President J.A. Kufuor yesterday took issue with the media over reckless allegations, and said although the government did not want to be seen to be gaging anybody, it was only fair that the media established the truth of such allegations otherwise the court would be the last resort for aggrieved persons.
"The Government is careful not to be seen as wanting to gag anybody but it is only fair to insist that once made, allegations should be followed through with proofs.
Failing that, uses of the courts by the agrieved to redress must be accepted as also fair,"he said.
He also charged the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice(CHRAJ), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and other statutory agencies to undertake any investigations they deemed worthwhile without any prompting from any quarter.
"They should rise to the occasion to do what is expected of them to ensure good governance in the country," he stated.
At the presentation of awards of the 2004 Club 100 (GC100), President Kufuor said the government had instituted and encouraged participatory approaches to governance, which engaged all sections of the society including the media in the debate on governance and economic policy direction.
The event, the seventh in the series, is organised annually by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) to encourage companies in the private sector to enhance their performances and strive towards excellence.
The criteria for selection to the Club 100 include good corporate governance, profitability and full-time employment levels.
The first top 10 companies of the 2004 Club 100, which were presented with shields by President Kufuor were Scancom Limited, operators of Areeba mobile phone network, Nestle Ghana Ltd; Produce Buying Company Ltd; Fan Milk Ghana Ltd; Dizengoff Ghana Ltd, TAYSEC Construction Limited; Guinness Ghana Ltd; Prudential Bank, Interplast Ghana Ltd and Maersk Ghana Ltd.
President Kufuor said debate should be conducted at all times with a sense of responsibility and with a focus on social improvement.
"In this respect, it is regrettable that some of the fledgling media houses seem determined to be reckless with allegations," the President stated.
The President did not make any specific case against any particular media house but his comment came in the wake of publications of allegations of kickbacks, per diem and spending of state money on supposed expensive hotels.
Reiterating the government's commitment to fighting corruption at all levels, President Kufuor said the recent revelations of corruption reported from the Accountant General's Department and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority did not happen by chance.
Rather, he said, such revelations of corruption were all part of the manifestation of the government's zero tolerance for corruption.
Declaring that the government was mindful of its policy of zero torelance for corruption, President Kufuor explained that the fight against corruption should take place at both the personal and the institutional levels.
At the institutional level, he said, the government had enacted the Financial Regulations Law, the Procurement Law and the Internal Audit Agency Act and provided support for the Ghana Police Service to enable it to function more effectively.
Additionally, the government had improved the conditions of service of the Judiciary and was steadily providing that arm of government with the necessary infrastructure for speedy adjudication of cases.
On the personal level, President Kufuor said containment of corruption required self-discipline, self-restraint and a good moral disposition but indicated that where any failing showed, others should have the courage of their convictions to prosecute allegations within the limits the law.
"Anything else is not only harmful but could exacerbate social tensions," he said."The fight against corruption also requires the government's input. It is not for nothing that corruption is very much in the news these days. It is because of the awareness which this government has generated in the body politic for fighting it," the President said.
"Indeed, the government is making serious efforts at exposing havens of corruption which have been in existence for decades," he added.
President Kufuor said all those who could assist so that wrong-doers were brought to book should not consider their work done if they merely talked to one another. Rather, he said, such individuals should be able to go to the police or any other law-enforcement agencies with the information they had.
"This is precisely the nature of their civic responsibility, nothing short," he stated. After speaking at length on the efforts that the government was making to promote business and on the issue of corruption at the presentation, the President cleared his throat and declared: "After getting this off my chest, let me turn my attention briefly on the tourism sector".
He said a legislative instrument to promote activities in the tourism sector with appropriate incentives to attract investors into the sector would soon be promulgated.
Mr P.V. Obeng, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the GIPC, said the awards event would add some spice to the government's action and efforts to galvanise the private sector on whose shoulders lay the progress of the country.
Nana Susubiribi Krobea Asante, Paramount Chief of the Asokore Traditional Area, who chaired the function, said successive governments had come to appreciate the fact that the private sector was very crucial in their strategies for achieving national development.
He commended the government for making the growth of the private sector a cardinal component of its economic strategy and building a good image for Ghana in the international community.
On behalf of the GIPC and the private sector, Nana Asante presented a shield to President Kufuor in recognition of his strong support for the private sector.