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30.05.2004 Regional News

Bishop called for measures to check corruption in District Assemblies

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Accra, May 30, GNA - The Catholic Bishop of Jasikan, the Most Rev. Gabriel Ababio Mante, has called for the early passing of the Whistle-blower's Bill and an amendment of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Act to allow it to prosecute culprits as part of measures to promote transparency and accountability at the District Assemblies.

He made the call in a paper on "the processes and approaches for promoting transparency and accountability at the district levels", at the First National Delegates Conference of Civic Unions under the Government Accountability Improvement Programme at the University of Ghana, Legon.

Bishop Mante noted that the "strongest challenge facing the District Assemblies is corruption."

He suggested that in view of corruption and the high rate of default in the repayment of loans, Assemblies should liaise with civil society organisations to set up independent bodies to disburse and recover loan facilities.

He identified the laxity in the inventory control and property management in the assemblies leading to fraud and waste, saying that "self-interest and insensitivity on the part of some officials of District Assemblies have led to the abuse of the processes, often resulting in avoidable wastes and losses."

The Bishop cited some abuses resulting in wastes and losses in decentralised departments as in the area of storekeeping due to poor record keeping, lack of cash control, poor procurement and purchasing practices, award of project contracts and imprest accounts.

He decried the pervasive corruption in public institutions leading to ever-growing culture of "abusive self-enrichment" at the expense of the nation and called for regular review of guidelines and structures in the system to eliminate or plug the loopholes people exploit.

Bishop Mante observed that the widespread of the canker had created an atmosphere of suspicion around institutions of governance thus eroding the confidence and trust in the people who run them by the tax-payer.

To promote and enhance transparency and accountability at the district level, the prelate therefore, called for the enforcement of positive workplace ethic, the prosecution of violators of regulations and moral standards and acknowledgment of honest and hard working public servants.