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19.04.2006 General News

Executive is doing more to fight corruption -Report

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Respondents in a survey on the Country Self Assessment Report (CSAR) has rated the Executive as doing more to fight corruption than the Legislature and the Judiciary.

The findings contained in the Country Review Report of the African Peer Review Mechanism attributed the trend to the weak capacity of the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature and the inadequate oversight role of Parliament as a whole.

The Report, which was launched on Tuesday, covered four broad areas of democracy and political governance, economic governance and management, corporate governance and socio-economic development.

Presenting highlights of the report, Dr Francis Appiah, Executive Secretary of the National African Peer Review Mechanism Governing Council (NAPRM-GC) Secretariat, said respondents identified low real wages and salaries in the public sector, weak or ineffective powers of prosecution of corruption cases, the gift-giving culture, nepotism and patronage and the weak code of conduct of public officials as some factors contributing to corruption in the country.

About 52 per cent of respondents perceived corruption as a common feature of the Ghanaian public administration, while 27 per cent see it as occurring only in isolated cases.

Six per cent regarded corruption as systemic and endemic while nearly 40 per cent felt it was on the decline.

While respondents expressed their satisfaction with the ongoing institutional approaches to fighting corruption, they mentioned weak institutions and weak commitment to fight corruption to the complex court and administration procedures in prosecuting corruption cases as some of the challenges in the fight against corruption.

Besides they argued that institutional reforms must be accompanied by a strong commitment to enforce the rules in actual practice and organisations tasked with implementing anti-corruption programmes be adequately resourced and funded to deliver.

The Report urged the Government to cooperate with civil society and private business organisations to improve performance of corruption control.

There is also the need to pass the Whistleblower Bill and Freedom of Information Bill as soon as possible and implement them fully in addressing the problems.

Further to these recommendations, the Report called for institutional and organizational changes to facilitate the oversight role for Parliament in the area of Public Finance through regular reporting of revenue and spending of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

In addition, Parliament was tasked to take its oversight role beyond the budgeting stage to include aspects of implementation.

On democracy and good governance, the Report praised Ghana as a haven of peace in an otherwise volatile region and lauded the unique institutions such as the National Commission on Civic Education and processes that other African countries could emulate or adopt.

There was also a recommendation to improve corporate governance through a review of legal and regulation framework governing corporate activity and making them to conform to international standards. There was also the need to define land ownership to promote investment and ease lending requirements to enhance the growth of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).

Respondents also gave thumps up for the country's socio-economic development, praising increase enrolment in schools, access to health and the remarkable progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

However, there was the call for the country to reduce the high dependency on external partners and to work towards attainment of equity in development as far as the three Northern Regions are concerned. Dr Appiah said the issues of low capacity constraints, gender disparity, corruption among other things needed to be successfully addressed to move the socio-economic development process forward.

Professor Samuel Adjepong, Chairman, NAPRM-GC, said the implementation of the various recommendations contained in the Report was the collective responsibility of all Ghanaians.

He said the implementation of the Programme of Action would address the shortcomings and weaknesses that had been a drawback to the country's quest for socio-economic development and poverty reduction. Odeneho Gyapong Ababio II, Member of the Council of State and President of the National House of Chiefs, who launched the Report, asked Ghanaians to read and give objective interpretation to it devoid of political bias.

He urged the public, opinion leaders, and churches among other groups to make informed decision from the Report for the growth of the country.