Government has expressed its commitment to the implementation of Ghana’s Beneficial Ownership Disclosure (BOD) project to help save the country from the scourge of widespread corruption and money-laundering.
At a stakeholders’ workshop yesterday in Accra to establish a framework on the implementation of BOD in the Amended Companies Act, Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, in a speech read on his behalf, emphasized that “our government is committed to transparency and accountability both within government and in the private sector. We are committed not just to tackling corruption, but preventing revenue leakage at all levels.”
The Minister stated that there was a lot more work to be done in order to ensure that the model developed for Ghana’s beneficial ownership regime meets the objectives of stakeholders.
He said though some level of progress had been made in Ghana compared to other countries, it seemed the rate at which the process was moving was slower than expected, hence the need for all to help quicken the implementation process.
Last year, Parliament passed three important pieces of legislation – the Companies Act (as amended) (Act 919), which makes some of the necessary provisions for beneficial ownership disclosure; the Minerals Development Fund Act (Act 920) and the Public Financial Management Act (Act 921) with the aim of strengthening transparency and accountability.
“There are a host of issues to consider, including compatibility with the current companies register, as well as with the global data register, a regime for ensuring data security and privacy, all towards making sure that the architecture of the register is fit for purpose.”
Emmanuel Kuyole, Africa Deputy Director, Natural Resource Governance Institute (NGRI), in a presentation on the‘Analysis of the Company Amendment Act – Gap Analysis,’ said oil and gas companies that bid, operate, invest and trade in extractives projects in their countries must publish names of their real owners.
This, he mentioned, should include the identity of the owner i.e. their name, nationality and country of residence.
“Companies are also encouraged to publish further details such as the date of birth, national identity number, residential address, etc.”
According to Transparency International, global money laundering is now worth $2 trillion annually and half of this amount is coming from developing countries such as Ghana, who need these monies to undertake social investments into their health services, education systems or to build and maintain the roads and infrastructure needed to alleviate poverty.
According to the World Economic Forum and World Bank, about $1.25 trillion is paid in bribes annually, and 5 percent of global annual GDP (about $2.5 trillion) is lost through corruption.
Oxfam also indicated that poor countries lose up to $170 billion yearly to tax evasion.
They concluded that a fraction of this amount could fund health services that could save the lives of 150 million children.
By Samuel Boadi