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The Audit, Civil & Public Services Are Most Corrupt Institutions In Ghana & Globally

​​​​​​​…We Need New Draconian Strategies To Fight This Endemic Cancer
Feature Article The Audit, Civil  Public Services Are Most Corrupt Institutions In Ghana  Globally
TUE, 14 FEB 2023 LISTEN

‘YES MINISTER’ is a British political satire sitcom written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn. Comprising three seven-episode series, it was first transmitted on BBC2 from 1980 to 1984. A sequel, ‘YES, PRIME MINISTER’, ran for 16 episodes from 1986 to 1988. All but one of the episodes lasted half an hour, and almost all ended with a variation of the title of the series spoken as the answer to a question posed by Minister (later, Prime Minister) Jim Hacker. Several episodes were adapted for BBC Radio; the series also spawned a 2010 stage play that led to a new television series on Gold in 2013.

Set principally in the private office of a British cabinet minister in the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, Yes, Minister’ follows the ministerial career of Jim Hacker, played by Paul Eddington. Hos various struggles to formulate and enact policy or effect departmental changes are opposed by the British Civil Service, in particular his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, played by Nigel Hawthorne. His Principal Private Secretary Bernard Wooley, played by Derek Fowlds, is usually caught between the two. The sequel, Yes, Prime Minister’, continued with the same cast and followed Hacker after his unexpected elevation to prime ministerial office upon the retirement of the previous office holder.

The series received several BAFTAs and in 2004 was voted sixth in the Britain’s Best Sitcom poll. It was the favourite television programme of the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher.

The series opens in the wake of a general election in which the incumbent government has been defeated by the opposition party, to which Jim Hacker MP belongs. His party affiliation is never stated, his party emblem is clearly neither Conservative nor Labour, and his party’s political colour is white. The Prime Minister offers Hacker the position of Minister of Administrative Affairs, which he accepts. Hacker goes to his department and meets his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, and Principal Private Secretary, Bernard Woolley.

While Appleby is outwardly deferential towards the new minister, he is prepared to defend the status quo at all costs. Hacker and his party’s policies of reducing bureaucracy and diametrically opposed to the Civil Service’s interests, in which staff numbers and budgets are viewed as merits of success (as opposed to sizes of profits or losses in private industry). Woolley is sympathetic towards Hacker but as Appleby reminds him, Woolley’s civil service superiors, including Appleby, will have much to say about the course of his future career (i.e. assessments, promotions, pay increases), while ministers do not usually stay long in one department and have no say in civil service staffing recommendations.

Many of the episodes revolve around proposals backed by Hacker but frustrated by Appleby, who uses a range of clever stratagems to defeat ministerial proposals while seeming to support them. Other episodes revolve around proposals promoted by Appleby but rejected by Hacker, which Appleby attempts by all means necessary to persuade Hacker to accept. They do occasionally join forces in order to achieve a common goal, such as preventing the closure of their department or dealing with a diplomatic incident.

As the series revolves around the inner workings of central government, most of the scenes take place in private locations, such as offices and exclusive members’ clubs. Lynn said that “there was not a single scene set in the House of Commons because government does not take place in the House of Commons. Some politics and much theatre takes place there. Government happens in private. As in all public performances, the real work is done in rehearsal, behind closed doors. Then the public and the House are shown what the government wishes them to see. However, the episode “The Compassionate Society” does feature an audio recording of ‘Yesterday in Parliament’ in which Hacker speaks in the House of Commons, and other episodes include scenes in the Foreign Secretary’s House of Commons office (“The Writing on the Wall”) and a Committee room (“A Question of Loyalty”). WIKIPEDIA

I have copiously copied from the Wikipedia on this matter as it relates to CORRUPTION so that we all know, understand, appreciate, recognize and accept that it is not an African or Ghanaian phenomenon only but a human thing for “MAN, BORN OF A WOMAN, TO BE CORRUPT” in all his dealings of human endeavour.

Man and his counterpart, the woman are both prone, equally to corruption and, worse, this is irrespective of race, colour, religion, tradition and or creed; and that is why it is a most worrying phenomenon, especially as corruption is a global CANKER. It is a gangrenous or ulcerous sore; a disease affecting the souls of men, characterized by a foul-smelling exudate; something that corrodes, corrupts, destroys, or irritates; and or a defined area of diseased tissue, especially in woody stems – this comes in all forms, shapes and language – in both developed and developing nations and people.

Year in and year out, as the Auditor-General issues his annual reports with all the scandalous revelations, it is becoming increasing clear that we are losing the perpetual fights against corruption irrespective of which political party is in power.

I am more than scandalized by the amounts that are declared as lost to the state through corruption or corrupt practices and or lack of accountability on the part of the offenders and or offending agencies.

In 2022, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) indicated that US$2.6 Trillion is lost to Corruption annually during the year’s International Anti-Corruption Day.

According to the Ghana Integrity of Public Services Survey (GIPSS), Ghana lost Gh₵5 billion in cash through the payment of bribes to public officials in 2021.

The third record is that Ghana loses USD$3.0 billion to corruption every year according to the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and this menace keeps the people poor as well as shatters dreams of millions of Ghanaians.

Indeed, to many across the globe, CORRUPTION is the alternate or parallel economy of Ghana, especially as it is most thriving industry within the civil and or public services, hence my giving you an inkling from the popular British TV plays, ‘YES, MINISTER’ and ‘YES, PRIME MINISTER’.

You know, the public and civil service staff, over years, have studied and for some time now understand the political class and their vanities – “their conceit and desires for admiration of one’s personal attainments or attractions; ostentatious displays; and their futilities or unsubstantialities of their perceptions of life; and their unreal, illusory or imaginary considerations of what they really are” – and therefore evolved trappings that play to their egos to entrap them on their assumptions of office as Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Special Assistants, Special Advisors, Communication Specialists and Officers; and make them ineffective as well as incapable to exercise proper controls.

They have ensured that it is ingrained in the subconscious of every politician that they, the Chief Directors and Permanent Secretaries are the ones in charge with absolute controls of the budgets of the several units and therefore, have developed systems and controls within the civil and or public services, which is technically to insulate the politician heads but in actual fact only serve to perpetuate their absolute controls of the finances of their units.

As they argue always, political heads come and go as they are the ones to stay and are responsible for the annual accountabilities of their units.

The structure then is that the head of accounts reports to the Chief Directors (CD) and or Permanent Secretaries (PS) except for something I have observed severally over the years not only in Ghana but across a number of African nations I have transacted businesses in, a certain protocol of wastage, whereby every Friday, the Chief Accountants (CA) will be called to the office of the political heads of the units that he will be going to the constituency over the weekend and therefore the usual package is expected before he or she leaves.

This is a certain amount of money packaged for the political head, technically an unaccountable sum for his / her use over the weekend. In one such instance that I witnessed, the Chief Accountant walked over to the Minister’s desk, opened the last drawer and placed the package there, only for the gentleman to ask, if he thought the amount was enough, especially as he, the Accountant, knew he would be going to his constituency. Technically, an unaccountable or semi-accountable imprests for these office holders; and they come back with all kinds of receipts to acquit the sums of monies they are given for a weekend - multiply by the fifty-four (54) weeks in a year and the four (4) years of office in a political dispensation.

This is in addition to all the perks of office the political class as heads of institutions receive, including –

  • Free accommodation;
  • Two (2) special vehicles;
  • One sports utility vehicle (SUV);
  • One saloon car;
  • Free electricity;
  • Free water;
  • Free telephone;
  • Free fuel;
  • House help;
  • Garden Boy;
  • Driver;
  • Security (all day);
  • Holiday allowances;
  • Housing loans;
  • Home enhancement loans;
  • Travel per diem;
  • Medical care;
  • Inconvenience allowance;
  • Entertainment allowance;
  • Vehicle maintenance allowance;
  • DSTv allowance; and
  • Funeral grants.

And yet, they, the political office holders, are not offering to abate their privileges and perks of office towards alleviating the economic hardships, the result of their incompetences, greed and corruption, especially as the civil and or public services’ structures facilitate their acts and cover them up through their collaborators at the Audit Service.

Over the years, the personnel of the Audit Service, those easily susceptible to corruption, have developed a sixth sense of determining how much the accounts department of any unit had amassed from the totality of their annual expenditure; and therefore are able to negotiate a compensation so that they do not find much fault with the accounts to be audited.

Indeed, sometimes on the reverse, the audit teams are threatened with juju or other forms of threat, including death, to the extent that some visiting audit team members refuse normal courtesies as food, water and accommodation for good reason.

If we really want to curb corruption, we need more stringent measures, including the publication of the assets of the chief directors or permanent secretaries, accountants and auditors of both the public and civil services. This should include the assets filed on date of appointment and assets declared annually thereafter so that a SPECIAL UNIT of the Head of Civil or Public Service, verifies these on annual basis to curb corruption.

There should also be regular ‘LIFESTYLE AUDITS’ for selected public and civil servants, particularly politicians who occupy public offices, who ought to file their assets declarations on entering public spaces and after leaving offices. It is indeed for this reason that some of us are still surprised that nothing public has come out from the ‘GIFTING FOREVER or FOR LIFE’ WILL episode? The government ought to know that this is not a dead case yet as it will surely be resurrected soonest on change of governments one day.

It should also be possible for all projects funded by state to be audited by a special team of specialists to ensure value for money on all projects.

Corruption in the third world, including Ghana, is an alternate national economy, which fuels the booming real estate industry in the midst of poverty and our collapsed economy, otherwise how on earth can the political class on the assumption of offices within a year undertake such huge investments into real estate, whilst everybody else is crying to the high heavens that “WE ARE SUFFERING”, to quote a popular politician?

Change is gonna come, sooner than we think; need I say more?

By Magnus Naabe RexDanquah, the Ghanaian

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