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19.05.2007 General News

Fight against corruption: AG's blueprint out soon

By myjoyonline

The Attorney General's (AG's) Department says it is putting together a blueprint for the launch of a nation-wide anti corruption crusade within the next three months.

The campaign entails the simplification of laws on corruption and making them available to the public and developing effective anti-corruption messages in brochures, manuals and other publications for distribution.

The department will also ensure that banks are situated at some points where payments are made to the State for services, such as those provided by the Registrar¬ General's Department, to ensure that money that is due to the State is paid through the banks and not through individuals who, in most cases, pocket it.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, stated this at a meeting with the Multi-Donor Budget Support (MDBS) group in Accra on Friday.

The group, made up of representatives from the United States, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme, met the minister to discuss with him measures aimed at ensuring good governance and areas in which assistance could be provided.

It was led by Dr Mechthild Runger, the Programme Manager of the German Development Co-operation's (GTZ's) Good Governance Programme in Ghana.

The siting of banks at the various points, Mr Ghartey said, would be along the same lines as the positioning of banks at the country's courts for the payment of fines and other charges.

He said the department was committed to the promotion of fundamental human rights, adding that to that end it had formed a human rights commission "in-house" to advise other ministries on human rights issues.

Taking the delegation through the challenges and constraints facing the department, Mr Ghartey said record keeping and case management systems were archaic, adding that record keeping was manual and not automated.

He said in spite of that, the AG's Department responded to cases promptly.

Mr Ghartey added that individuals sought from the department the position of the law on various issues and responses were offered promptly.

He said attracting staff, networking among divisions and regional offices, specialization by staff, lack of infrastructure such as libraries and computers and adequate motivation for staff were some of the problems the department was grappling with.

Mr Ghartey said the AG's Department had developed an annual work plan with the UNDP to develop staff, internship and harmonization of anti-corruption laws in Ghana and add to logistics and equipment.

He said the department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Co-operation and NEPAD were in the process of indexing treaties signed by Ghana.

He noted that the department was working towards a more effective and efficient AG's Department and Ministry of Justice to serve the people of Ghana better on themes such as Integrity and Justice for All, Human Rights and Economic Development for All.

The Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Kwame Osei ¬Prempeh, who spoke on the Freedom of Information Bill, said record keeping in the country was appalling, noting that it would be difficult to pass the bill and implement it with the country's current record-keeping status.

"The government is committed to the passage of the bill but it is when we improve on our record keeping that we can start," he added.

He also said there was the need to embark on a massive educational campaign prior to the passage of the bill.

"We at the AG's Department have begun implementing the bill on a pilot basis by• setting a rule that anyone who wants information from here should get it," he added.

Dr Runger, explaining the activities of the MDBS group, said it sometimes paid money into the consolidated funds of countries to support those practising good governance.

She said the group had agreed to support the AG's Department in areas where it was needed.

Credit: Daily Graphic

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