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30.01.2006 General News

Hotel Kufuor: President To Be Investigated

By Daily Graphic
Hotel Kufuor: President To Be Investigated
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The President, Mr J.A. Kufuor, has submitted himself to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for investigation into an allegation made against him over the use of state resources for private gain. This is the first time in Ghana's 49-year history that a sitting President has allowed a constitutionally established body to summon him to account for the use of public funds. The President did not give details about the identity of the person who made the allegation and the nature of the allegation. Receiving a delegation from Transparency International, led by its chairperson, Dr Huggette Labelle, at the Castle, Osu, last Friday, President Kufuor said the government's policy of zero tolerance for corruption was not mere rhetoric.

Transparency International is a worldwide anti-corruption advocacy agency that conducts studies into the prevalence of corruption in countries across the globe.

At the behest of CHRAJ, President Kufuor said, he asked his lawyers to respond to questions raised by the commission in respect of the allegation.

In July 2005, CHRAJ announced that it was investigating the matter to find out if undue process had been exerted in the acquisition of a hotel by the President's son, Chief Kufuor.

The allegation of the acquisition of the hotel near the private residence of President Kufuor, otherwise referred to as the “Hotel Kufour” saga, came into the public domain in June last year and a report on the primary investigations conducted by CHRAJ is expected to be made public soon.

President Kufuor said it was to ensure transparency and improve the country's democratic practice that Ghana became the first country on the continent to accede to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

He said within the five years that the government had been in office, it had caused the promulgation of laws such as the Public Procurement Law, the Internal Audit Agency Law and the Financial Administration Laws as part of the effort to fight corruption.

He told the delegation that the government appreciated the fact that corruption had a distortion effect on the development of a country and it was for that reason that it declared a zero tolerance for corruption to control its prevalence in the country.

To demonstrate its commitment to fight corruption, he said, the government had, over the years, increased budgetary allocations to institutions such as the Serious Fraud Office and CHRAJ.

Unfortunately, he said, the media published issues on corruption without sometimes placing any limitation on their publications.

The President said much as the media operated with the objective of making profit, it was important for them to balance their financial interests against their social obligations, since the publications of such unfounded allegations which were easily placed on the Internet could have adverse effects of the country's investment drive.

Dr Labelle said the fact that Ghana had signed two international conventions on corruption was a strong signal to the commitment to fight the social canker and encourage other countries to do the same.

She said Ghana was seen as one of the emerging countries of hope and, therefore, the expectations of the people were great.

Earlier, the President had received a delegation led by Mr John Watson, the President of Chevron International and Exploration Company, and the West African Gas Pipeline Project at the Castle.

Mr Watson gave the assurance that the gas project would be completed on schedule. Already, he said, half of the offshore installations of the project had been completed.

Responding, the President expressed the hope that the gas project, which was brought on stream after many years of inactivity, would be completed by December to provide a cheaper source of energy for domestic and industrial use.