Ahead of the World Anti-corruption Day to be marked on Sunday, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Local Chapter of Transparency International (TI), is calling on the government to promptly order investigations into 'credible allegations of corruption' to give credence to the policy of zero tolerance for corruption.
In a statement released yesterday, the anti-corruption agency, also requested government to fast-track the passage of a credible Freedom of Information Act and ensure a thorough review of the Assets Declaration and Public Procurement Acts to help reduce corruption.
The GII recommendations come in the wake of the release of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB 2007), which is a public opinion survey on corruption.
This year's survey covered 63,199 respondents in 60 countries, including five African countries: Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon and South Africa.
The GCB 2007 offers a broad spectrum of data on common experiences of corruption, including which institutions most frequently demand bribes, where citizens see the greatest degree of corruption, and how they see both the future development of corruption and their governments' efforts to eradicate it.
The Ghanaian respondents surveyed for the GCB 2007 ranked the Police first with a score of 4.6 (out of a maximum score of 5 for very corrupt) as the institution that was most impacted by corruption.
The legal system, the judiciary came second with a score of 3.7, political parties scored 3.6 and were closely followed by the Legislature, Registry and Permit Systems as well as Revenue authorities (3.4).
The utilities providers, the education system, the business and private sector and the media (with the Medical system) scored 3.3, 3.2, 3.0 and 2.8, respectively. The Military scored 2.4 while the NGOs and religious bodies scored the lowest (2.2).
GII says there is the need to increase efforts to curb corruption in service delivery, especially in the education and health sectors if the country hoped to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
The statement further asked government to address the weaknesses in the Whistle Blower Act, 2007 (Act 720) to enable the ordinary citizens to take advantage of the law and help expose bribery and corruption.
In addition, government must provide adequate resources to the accountability institutions, such as the Electoral Commission, the Judiciary and CHRAJ and to promptly address the problems of the Police and the Judiciary, including adjusting pay levels and other conditions of service as a way of curbing corruption in these institutions. In contrast to many other countries, 62% of the respondents in Ghana were optimistic that levels of corruption in the country are likely to decrease in the coming years.
Similarly, 67% of the respondents felt that government efforts to fight corruption were quite effective. The GCB said the poor were most often confronted with requests for bribes and so bribe paying and corruption posed a serious challenge to poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) in Ghana and Africa.
'In Ghana, it impacts negatively on government's efforts to make education and health service more accessible through policies such as the Capitation Grant, the School Feeding Programme and the National Health Insurance Scheme and would definitely reverse efforts at achieving the MDGs.'
The report puts the onus on politicians, political parties and Parliaments in Africa to do everything possible to disabuse the minds of citizens that they are the worst institutions that are tainted by corruption.
Although, there is a need for concerted action from all stakeholders, governments must provide the necessary leadership to bring an end to corruption and its terrible cost. This also requires effective checks and balances that will make corruption a 'high-risk' and 'low-return' venture, the report added.