The fight against corruption is not in words but in action. Over the years, governments have made pronouncements of waging fierce war against the canker of corruption but little or no results have been achieved.
It is no more a secret that, corruption is one of the greatest problems we have to face as a people. Corruption is “a crime against development, democracy, education, prosperity, public health and justice – what many would consider the pillars of social wellbeing according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
In a recent report by World Justice Project (WJP), Ghana is doing well in the area rule of law but continues to struggle in the fight against corruption. The report continues to state that; Administrative efficiency and corruption remain important challenges although the country outperforms most of its regional peers in both dimensions.
On the front page of the popular Africa Watch magazine February 2014 edition, banner headline read; ‘Republic of Corruption’ referring to Ghana.
This media publication has left me thinking about my motherland and what the future holds for us if things continue like this. Ghana is seen as the beacon of Africa and this enviable reputation must be protected. But these reports have damning effects on our hard earned reputation on the international stage.
On another hand I was happy when I heard that, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has launched the ‘Public Confidence Re-Affirmation Campaign’ which will repose confidence in the police service. This is a step in the right direction and I urge other public institutions like Ghana Revenue Authority, Immigration service, Driver Vehicle Licencing Authority among others to do same to help reduce corruption to its barest minimum.
Despite the remarkable successes Ghana has chalked in furtherance of rule of law, a bigger challenge lies ahead, that is winning the war against corruption. Our quest for development would never be accomplished unless there is a change in attitude toward public goods and services especially the attitude of those put at the helm of affairs.
In Ghana, when the issue of corruption is mentioned, people are quick to point fingers at politicians but I beg to differ, bureaucrats are also top orchestrators of corruption in this country. Because civil servants are directly involved in running the day to day activities of the state institutions, they know thelapses in the system of which they take advantage of.
It is even becoming normal that, before civil servants render services to the citizenry, they demand bribes for what they have been paid to do.Financial leakages in the public sector is estimated to be more than two(2) billion cedis according to the Auditor General’ Report 2013 but leadership is not ashamed to move round with bowls in their hand seeking for loans and grants. What a sad incidence… We treat our nation anyhow and turn to complain about a weak system but we are the real cause of the numerous challenges confronting the nation.
Again, there are some government institutions which do next to nothing but exist to drain the meagre resources of our nation. It is high time as a nation we measure performance against results and cut down on our overburdened wage bill.
When you travel abroad, there are a lot of multinational corporations owned by states and aregenerating profit for their states. Why can’t this be down in Ghana? This is because, we have not managed our institutions and corporations efficiently and effectively. It might interest you to know that, there are a lot of government agencies which are without set targets to be achieved periodically.
I am of the view that, the civil service in Ghana needs a serious overhaul if anything better could happen in this country. The education and training of civil servants must conform to the 21st century standards to help our nation benefit fully from bureaucrats.
Health of Economy
The economy of our country is not in good health partly because the macroeconomic indicators are not in good standing. Last year, most of the macroeconomic targets set by the government were not met which puts pressure on this year’s targets.
The Bank of Ghana monetary rate is currently eighteen (18%), inflation for February 2014 is fourteen (14%), our currency for the past few months has depreciated against the major trading currencies like US Dollar, Euro, Canadian dollar, Pound Sterling even though the Bank of Ghana rules on foreign exchange has reduced the rate of depreciation of our local currency.
On the issue of wage bill, how sustainable is the single spine salary structure? Can we continue spending over seventy (70%) of our revenue paying over 600,000 government employees? What then is left for capital expenditure?
Our quest for economic transformation should be radical taking concrete measures to diversify our economy. Our imports values are rising by the day as a nation. Balance of payment deficit is on the ascendency. The president’s call on Ghanaians to patronize locally produced goods is a step in the right direction but how committed are we as a nation to import-substitution industrialization and export led growth?
Ghana is on the verge of signing fully the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which will open both markets for our mutual benefit but once again let me ask; are our local industries poised for competition? How do you expect industries that borrow at an average 25% interest rate, inadequate power supply, receives barely no subsidies from government etc compete effectively with fully fledged industries abroad. I think that, our local industries deserve better to make them competitive on the international market. When it comes to international trade and relations, national identity is key and Ghana must define and insist on achieving its national identity.
Sleeping Middle Class
The African Development Bank defines the middle class in African as those who spend averagely between two (2) and twenty (20) dollars a day. In Ghana, those in formal employment be it nurses, lecturers, bankers, doctors, teachers, pharmacists, lawyers, judges among others are ‘sleeping’. What is the size of the political class in Ghana? yet we have left governance in hands of a selected few and turn back to complain that the system is not working.
So many people think that, once they are able to meet their daily needs and that of their families, they don’t have a business with what happens in this country.This is absolutely unacceptable. Nation building should not be left in the hands of a selected few.I therefore throw a challenge to Ghana’s middle class to rise up and contribute immensely to our developmentagenda. The issues of governance must be paramount to them.
There is Hope
Indeed, there is still hope for our development. As I have always said, let us look within for there are a lot of opportunities that we can make good use of for the benefit of ourcountry. The loopholes in our system especially in the public sector must be blocked. Corrupt officials must be dealt with irrespective of their political affiliation.
Government’s fight against corruption should achieve results for the benefit of all. With respect to our economy, government should encourage a lot of public-private partnerships to inject a lot of investments into sectors we have comparative advantage of. I’m optimistic that, when Ghanaians change their attitude towards the state, there will massive improvements in our country. Long live Ghana….
The author is an Administrative Officer; Ghana Youth Integrity Campaign and an Associate Chartered Economist