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20.02.2006 Press Review

Editorial: An Accountability Call

By Chronicle

Sometime last year, the workers of the Energy Commission (EC) sounded the alarm bells about what they considered to be abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds and waste of the taxpayers' money, through the actions and inactions of their Executive Secretary, and the Commission's Board. In the course of last week, The Chronicle had drawn attention to the need to let the public know about the status of the findings of various committees set up to investigate what appears to be a wanton dissipation of the taxpayers' money by public officials, some in pursuit of personal gains.

Every Ghanaian is by now aware that there is no reward but punishment, for causing financial loss to the state, even when it cannot be established that one personally benefited from such losses to the state. At least, the former Finance Minister, Mr. Kwame Peprah, Dr. S. Yankey and Mr. Ibrahim Adam are living testimonies to this!

In our last editorial on this subject, we had mentioned outstanding issues regarding the Volta River Authority (VRA) under the administration of Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, where two investigative committees were set up, the EC under Mr. Kofi Asante, where also, two independent committees carried out investigations, as well as the Ghana School of Law (GSL) under Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare.

We raised this concern because while we agree that investigations ought to be thoroughly done and matters raised properly addressed, plugging the leakages, in some of these cases even after it had been clearly established that some of these officials clearly abused their offices and misappropriated public funds for their personal benefit, they continued to be on leave, and paid their regular salaries in full, as if nothing had happened!

This is notwithstanding the fact that others would have been engaged to be doing their jobs and being paid.

The effect is that after being bled dry, the taxpayer is called upon to pay double salary for the same position!

In the case of the VRA, a reported comment by then Minister of Energy, Dr. Kwesi Nduom, clearly suggested that financial losses had been caused and he was recommending for people to be held accountable for that.

Yet, as we stated last week, the last time the public heard from the Chief Executive, under whose tenure these loses and anomalies were unearthed, he was on radio talking about his end-of-service benefits (ESB), which he was still negotiating.

Interestingly, a 13-member group tasked with exploring the possibility of sourcing funds from the capital market to support national revenue is supposed to have been set up under the chairmanship of the former VRA chief executive, Dr. Wereko-Brobby!

Even as the various acts of misappropriation against Mr. Kofi Asante unfold, he still does not believe that he had done anything untoward.

Indeed, he is playing the victim, as he has stated that it was 'because of his incorruptible stance and refusal to betray the national interest by refusing to sanction deals involving a crude oil lifting firm, Sahara Resources, the West African Gas Pipeline Project, among others, that he had incurred the wrath of powerful forces who wanted him out.'

Even as we have no doubt that the evidence against Mr. Asante is so overwhelming, his tune about crude oil lifting involving Sahara Resources and the West African Gas Pipeline Project is worth listening to, and we pray that for the national interest that he purports to hold high, he sings the full song!

He had mentioned the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), VRA and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) – all in the energy sector – as operating some of the policies he was being accused of implementing.

The Chief Justice, Justice George Kingsley Acquah, has never stopped talking about his avowed commitment to erode corruption from the Judicial Service. It is The Chronicle's hope and expectation that the Akamba Committee report would not gather dust in the Chamber of his Lordship.