General News of Saturday, 23 December 2017
Private legal practitioner Ace Annan Ankomah says President Nana Akufo-Addo and his ministers must be challenged to make their asset declarations public.
That, he insists, is cardinal in the fight against corruption.
Article 286 (1) of the Constitution states that “A person who holds a public office…shall submit to the Auditor-General a written declaration of all property or assets owned by, or liabilities owed by, him whether directly or indirectly.
The current position where public office holders declare their assets in sealed envelopes and hand over to the Auditor-General, he maintains, makes a mockery of the country’s corruption fight.
Speaking on Joy FM/MultiTV’s news analysis programme, Newsfile, Mr Ankomah said the president and his ministers must be bold enough to evolve a practice and convention where their asset declaration is made public.
President Akufo-Addo came to power, proudly touting his incorruptibility and making a raft of claims that the John Mahama government was supremely corrupt.
Asked whether he had seen enough to be convinced that the government was determined to fight corruption, the OccupyGhana leader said, even though he had seen progressive steps, he wanted more concrete actions beginning with asset declaration.
“I think that we should stop paying lip service. If this government believes that there should be a public declaration, nothing in the constitution stops them.
“I think that the leadership can say, ‘I am going to publish mine and I’m challenging my ministers to do same,” he added.
Former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Emile Short, who also contributed to the discussion said the verification and publication of assets by public officers can reduce or stop corruption.
He said grand corruption is fueled when politicians at the top or public officers know that their assets and liabilities will not be verified.
“Therefore they have a way of indulging in corruption because they know that there is no way the Auditor General or CHRAJ can undertake a wholesome verification of assets and liabilities that have been declared,” he added.
Assets declaration for Justice Short is a critical tool in the fight against corruption and an absence of it and the fact that no one is being held accountable is the reason Members of Parliament have not demonstrated a commitment and willingness to amend the law.