Fight against corruption: Experts advocate constitutional change

General News of Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Source: ghanaiantimes.com.gh

2019-06-26

Clara Constitutionplay videoPrivate Legal Practitioner, Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee

Panellists at a forum on corruption have called for an urgent review of the constitutional provision that empowers the President to appoint majority of his Ministers from Parliament, arguing that it weakens the fight against corruption.

They include the Auditor-General, Daniel Yao Domelevo, Private Legal Practitioner, Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee and Professor Stephen Adei, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).

They were speaking at the 2nd National Dialogue on Anti-Corruption, Rule of Law and Accountability in Accra yesterday on the theme “Public Accountability: Abuse of Office.”

Reflecting on the provision, Madam Kasser-Tee explained that it had weakened the oversight role of Parliament on the executive to ensure accountability in the use of public funds and resources.

“That provision has proven to be ineffective in the attainment of the objectives for which it was put in the constitution. It’s about time we assess how this structure has worked for us going forward and then revisit that structure.

Members of Parliament (MPs) becoming ministers is a structure we have to relook as part of our efforts to fight corruption,” she stated.

She called for the institution of appropriate frameworks and systems to make corruption costly and less beneficial to deter people from engaging in it.

Given the necessary resources and time, she said, the Office of the Special Prosecutor could be critical to the fight against the canker and urged all to support it work.

Mr Domelevo said the provision had been a disservice to the country in ending corruption and promoting accountability.

He explained that the provision did not allow for separation of powers between the executive and legislative arms of government, saying that “no MP, who is a Minister, will argue against any decision or policy from government and this does not help in promoting accountability.”

To encourage the citizenry to get involved in the fight against corruption, he reiterated calls for a change in approach against the menace to include commercialising prosecution of corrupt cases.

He explained that, for the country to clamp down on corruption, it required the efforts of all including private citizens who could expose such practices and in some cases provide evidence saying that “one institution and the government cannot do it alone.”

Although the Whistle Blowers Act was in existence to protect whistleblowers, Mr Domelevo said, people were not encouraged to expose corrupt practices because they did not see it as beneficial to them.

“If people do not benefit from the prosecution of corruption, they will be hesitant to expose corrupt practices. That’s why I propose that a percentage of the money recovered is given to the whistleblower to encourage people to get involved,” he added.

On his part, Professor Adei said, sanctions for corruption should be severe to discourage others from engaging in it, while the criminal code was reviewed to make it simpler.

He reiterated the importance of leadership in instituting the appropriate measures to address corruption in the public sector and urged Parliament to play a leading role to fight the canker.

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