Mr Speaker, today marks 16 years since the United Nations passed the Convention to tackle corruption and its retrogressive effects on the development of (i). the world as a whole, (ii). International institutions, (iii). National institutions, and (i.v). Individuals more specifically. In the convention, it is clearly put out that the promotion and strengthening of measures to prevent corruption are priority in the fight, and it dawns on member states of the United Nations, not only to create awareness of corruption and its effects but also to outline actionable measures and steps that ensure our certain victory over this enemy of progress.
Mr Speaker, corruption is very often attributed to governmental organizations and I believe this to be because public resources are managed by government. This narrative is not far-fetched, because there have been many recorded cases of embezzlement of funds and the exploitation of resources at the government level, in different parts of the world including African countries.
This is not to say that corruption is alien to private sector and even in homes and churches, but the government usually takes the biggest blow when people lose trust in the systems set up to protect our collective interests and this reason alone, is enough to stir on government institutions and its officials to fight the hardest and set the good example for all other citizens to emulate.
Mr Speaker as today marks International Anti-Corruption day, I would take the opportunity to talk about some of the measures the government has established to increase its capacity in fighting corruption, and I also wish to resound a communiqué from this Honorable House, about my assessment of Ghana’s determination to deal with corruption that impedes sufficient value-for-money, in the provision of goods and services and in two other major areas, (i). the appointment of a competent human resource based on merit, and (ii). the establishment and strengthening of autonomous monitoring institutions backed by law.
Mr Speaker in October 2019, the Deputy Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) mentioned that an estimated 20% of the National Budget, —which was, in fact, twice the amount of annual foreign aids received—were lost through endemic and systemic acts of corruption.
The United Nations also reports that every year, 1 trillion dollars is paid in bribes while 2.6 trillion dollars is stolen annually through corruption. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, ahead of International Anti-Corruption Day 2019, urged all people ‘‘…to continue to work on innovative solutions to win the battle against corruption…’’ and I use this opportunity to state my viewpoint that Ghana is still united against corruption, following the campaign launched last year.
Mr Speaker, according to Transparency International, the situation of corruption is much dire than many see it to be, especially now because the international community is resolving to position itself for Climate action. The issue is that it involves the allocating of large funds for addressing global needs concerning climate change. Transparency International goes further to indicate that the most vulnerable regions to climate change that also require the most expenditure are sadly the same regions recording higher levels of public sector corruption.
With international funding for climate change to reach over 100 billion dollars by 2020, there is worry that these large funds may be lost to corruption. Also, per my assessment of Transparency International’s new ranking, that places Ghana well within the top half out of 180 countries perceived to be corrupt, we ought to step up once more as a nation to annul this perception by paying attention to our way of life. If corruption is common, that does not make it right.
Mr Speaker, the CHRAJ last year coordinated the National Anti-Corruption Week celebrations supported by the European Union and the Accountability, Rule of law, & Anti-Corruption Programme (ARAP). The media, private sector, and civil society groups participated actively to support the National Anti-Corruption Plan which spells out a comprehensive approach to addressing corruption in Ghana.
This is done through its strategic objectives to (a) build public capacity to fight and condemn corruption and make its practice a high-risk, low-gain activity; (b) institutionalize efficiency, accountability and transparency in the public, private and non-profit sectors; (c) Engage media and civil society groups in the report and combat of corruption, and lastly; (d) Conduct effective investigations and prosecution of corrupt conduct.
The National Anti-Corruption Action Plan passed in 2014 pointed out institutional weakness to be one of the prominent causes of corruption in Ghana. Taking cognizance of that fact, the years that followed have seen the establishment of ‘modified’ institutions to both uncover the complexities associated with corruption and to deal with perpetrators through the enforcement of laws that exist rather sufficiently. In fact, according to the Eastern Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ghana has enough laws to deal with corruption, with the Criminal Offences Act (Act 29) of the 1960 and the 1992 Constitution, being the most notable.
Mr Speaker, this Honorable house passed the Whistleblowers Act (Act 720) in 2006 to provide a legal framework for reporting corrupt activities, empowering ordinary citizens through protection from victimization that is unfortunately associated with reporting crimes. Ghana also has the (Act 804) in 2010 which establishes the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), mandated to monitor, investigate and prosecute law offenders in organized crime which is closely associated with corruption, on the authority of the Attorney General, as well as the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor in 2017. These are a few recent developments concerning anti-corruption.
Mr Speaker, looking at all these developments, there is sufficient basis to assert that the efforts to resolve institutional weakness pointed out in the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan are adequate for Ghana to see some significant improvements in the fight against corruption.
It certainly does not end there. Mr Speaker, one other essential component that has to be given similar attention and execution is the bid to increase transparency and accountability to the point where it becomes very easy for concerned citizens, whose interests must be protected by virtue of their status as taxpayers, to accurately trace public revenue expenditure on one hand, and also assess the mechanisms in place, concerning awarding of contracts and jobs based on merit.
In tandem with this need, the Right to Information bill passed earlier this year was a significant feat to strengthen Ghana’s anti-corruption agenda and is a pragmatic approach in disabling the factors that enable corruption to be carried out conveniently. This is where the Ghana Audit Service should be ably supported in carrying out its mandate. It is long overdue that Ghanaians should completely adapt to a system of sufficient transparency. From the operation of businesses in both private and public institutions to the employment and promotion of personnel, into and within organizations.
Finally, Mr Speaker, I believe that the observance of such international and national days are useful in repositioning the state to adequately deliver on its targets in the multidimensional development agenda. Through reviews, we can address the potential of creating a rather complicated nexus in the stipulated duties of all state organizations including newly established ones, so that a harmonious and holistic force is realized against corruption at all levels.
Honourable Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity.