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28.06.2004 General News

Fighting Corruption Is Top Priority - Osafo-Maafo

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Nairobi, Kenya -- The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, says the battle to reduce corruption in the country remains a top priority and that any public officer caught for indulging in corruption would not be spared.

He said the passage of the Central Internal Audit (CIA) Financial Management and Procurement Law, was not just indicative of the government's commitment to block loopholes in financial management but also to serve as a warning to all those engaged in any form of financial and administrative malpractices to the detriment of the state.

In an interview, after attending the fourth summit of the Heads of State and Government of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group in Maputo, Mozambique, the minister explained that the CIA law was a self-monitoring internal and pre-emptive mechanism against corruption. The Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, led Ghana's delegation to the summit.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said the law enjoined the various government ministries, departments and agencies to establish an audit department to monitor the day-to-day financial and administrative transactions and activities so that immediate solutions or corrective measures are taken to prevent or detect corruption from the early stages.

Unlike the Auditor-General's Department, which conducted postmortem analysis of financial transactions, the CIA is a daily affair and errors and malpractices could be detected as early as possible, instead of waiting till the end of the year and sometimes after, as pertained to the Auditor-General's Department.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said the new procurement law would instil discipline in the procurement sector where he said several shady deals took place. More than 60 per cent of the country's financial resources are spent on procurement, the minister added.

Touching on the achievement of the summit, he reiterated that Ghana should not depend excessively on donor funding to develop; rather efforts should be made to generate internal resources.Mr Osafo-Maafo stressed the need to develop the market for cocoa among ACP member countries to earn more income and to stabilise the price of the product.

On cotton development, as recommended by the summit, he advised that the country joins the ACP cotton producing countries for improvement in Ghana's cotton. He said Ghana had gained in terms of South-South co-operation, investment, access to market, and stability but added that a lot more needed to be done.

Mr Osafo-Maafo, however, conceded that the volume of intra-ACP trade was not encouraging because member countries were trading with their former colonial masters more than among ACP member states.He called for harmonisation, more co-operation, and the removal of obstacles to intra-ACP trade.

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