June 21, 2012
The Forum for Governance and Justice (FGJ) welcomes the directive on the payment of judgement debt outlined by cabinet. Clearly, this action indicates that government agrees with the people that the massive amounts denied the people year after year to judgement debt must be curtailed.
However, we must sadly note that the issue of judgement debt, a much bigger national issue, has been politicised. Different political interest groups are making threats and calling for the arrest of their political opponents.
Notwithstanding the overt attempts to politicise this national challenge, it is instructive to note that judgement debts are debts incurred by the state and not by a government or a party. The bulk of judgement debt paid or to be paid by the state is as a result of the actions and or inactions of public officials working for and in the name of the state.
With our understanding in mind, we must applaud this historic directive. The FGJ sees the wisdom and proactive implications of the directive that all judgement debts and claims above GH¢10 million be submitted to cabinet for approval prior to final settlement and payment. Equally, the directive that the Attorney General and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning should submit monthly and quarterly reports on all judgement debts and settled claims received or paid, is an assurance of determined oversight and critical scrutiny. However, it is the position of the Forum that as a nation, we must fully examine the conditions precipitating debt against the state. We believe that if we are to save our national wealth by avoiding the payment of judgement debt, we must serve notice that those with the capacity and responsibility to protect the interest of the state, including state attorneys, lawyers attached to various state institutions and agencies as well as public officers, will be held accountable should their actions or in-actions lead to needless and preventable judgement debt. In conclusion, we believe that the current directive by cabinet is a step in the quest to find a sustainable solution to the wanton misuse of our collective wealth. Even so, we think the state can also be saved from bleeding if we fully implement the recommendations of the Auditor General year in year out.
Dr. Clement A. Apaak
Convener, Forum for Governance and Justice - Ghana
020 011 7620