The Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) has strongly condemned what it describes as the “looting of state resources by public officials” which came out at the public hearings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament.
It stated that the startling revelations of “mass corruption” at the PAC sittings pointed to the virtual break-down of national institutions responsible for ensuring probity and accountability in the public service.
“The SFG is particularly struck by the vile and useless propaganda of government spin doctors and spokespersons, who are engaged in a futile attempt to turn the despicable spectacle of a looting brigade smashing through the national treasury and stealing without shame into an advantage for government,” it said in a statement issued in Accra.
The statement said the revelations at the PAC public sittings could not provide the government with any advantages, especially as it was the “failure of government” to ensure a good measure of accountability which was responsible for the “mess”.
“The break-down of accounting and internal audit systems in public institutions can only be blamed on an inefficient government,” it stressed, and questioned what the ministers, deputy ministers and the “multitude of Special Assistants” were doing over the last five years to check those “corrupt practices”.
“It cannot be true that ministers and government functionaries did not know about the naked stealing taking place under their very noses,” it added.
The SFG said there were strong indications which suggested that some of the companies involved in the “looting” were either owned by ministers and functionaries of the government or they served on their boards as directors.
The statement said the constitutional institutions for ensuring public accountability were deliberately starved of funds as a means of undermining their operational independence.
Buttressing its claim, the SFG said in its annual report for 2005, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) stated inter alia that: “In spite of constitutional guarantees of autonomy, the commission has since its establishment, had to contend with the effects of budget ceilings which are usually set by the Ministry of Finance without reference to the activities that the commission has planned for a given period.”
“The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which is still headed by an acting Executive Director, seven years into the Kufuor administration has suffered similar fate,” it added.
The SFG called on Ghanaians, especially the underprivileged, who “continue to suffer the pangs of poverty as a result of the activities of the looting brigade” to join the heroic struggle against the “criminal activities” of the ruling and “parasitic” elite and to mount the appropriate resistance which could ensure that no government took the people for a ride.
“We must understand that it is the activities of the “looting brigade” which may deny us access to health and education and compel us to pay higher taxes even in the face of the government's failure to increase the housing stock and to make life more bearable,” it said.
Story by Sebastian Syme