By Jessica Ahedor
Ghana integrity initiatives GII, the local chapter of Transparency International has called on the Akufo Addo led government to as a matter of urgency take a critical look at elements that promote public sector corruption in Ghana. Executive Director of GII Mrs. Linda Ofori-Kwafo speaking to journalists in Accra at the latest release of the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) , pointed out patronage, nepotism, secret political and financing as some factors that suspiciously close ties between politics and business . Mrs. Ofori-Kwafo says government must work to minimize the trend if not to completely eradicate them from the country’s social fabric.
The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released worldwide this morning by Transparency International (TI) scores and ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. The 2018 CPI draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption giving each country a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
According to TI, the 2018 CPI reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world. According to TI, even though the 2018 CPI score shows that Ghana’s performance has improved by 1 point from its 2017 score of 40, there are significant factors government must look out for. As part of the reports’ to government, Parliament must as a matter of urgency ensure the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill and the Conduct of Public Officer’s Bill into laws as they have a very critical role in promoting transparency and public sector integrity in the fight against corruption.
It added it is incumbent on government to adequately provide the needed resources to enable state accountability institutions perform their functions effectively and importantly facilitate the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) and also create an enabling environment which guarantees the security and safety of anti-corruption crusaders including civil society organizations and journalists. Ghana’s performance notwithstanding, GII is of the opinion that, the country could have possibly scored higher if allegations of corruption during the period under review were expeditiously investigated, prosecuted and appropriate sanctions meted out to culprits even though the score is a positive departure from the continuous drop the country has been experiencing since the year 2015. Details of Ghana’s CPI scores from 2012 when the scores became comparable from 2012 (45); 2013 (46); 2014 (48); 2015 (47), 2016 (43); 2017 (40) to 2018 (41).
The enhanced performance of the Audit Service and the Auditor General in discharging their constitutional mandate and ensuring the protection of the public purse could have made some impact on the 2018 CPI score. The paperless port clearing system under the Digital Inclusive Agenda and the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to fight corruption and corruption related offences in spite of the office’s teething challenges could have equally impacted on Ghana’s 2018 CPI score. The ongoing Judicial Service reforms including efforts to promote high standards of integrity amongst Judges and Magistrates, and Judicial staff, and the E-Justice System cannot also go unmentioned.
These linkages being made are important as they correlate to some of the indicators experts assessed. For instance, some of the surveys used to compute the 2018 CPI focused on the extent to which the Executive can be held accountable for its use of funds; the extent to which public employees within the Executive are required to account for the use of resources, administrative decisions, and results obtained. These levels of accountability are enhanced by transparency in decision making, public audit institutions, access to relevant and timely information, and public and media scrutiny.
Under other surveys, responses to corruption questions on how common is it for firms to make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with the following: imports and exports; public utilities; annual tax payments; awarding of public contracts and licenses and obtaining favourable judicial decisions were provided. Ghana’s Performance Vis-a-vis Other Sub-Saharan African Countries
It is worthy to also note that, although Ghana performed better than 37 other Sub-Saharan African countries including Benin 40, Swaziland 38, Gambia 37, Tanzania 36, Ghana nonetheless performed below 9 others. In 2016, Burkina Faso and Lesotho performed below Ghana. In 2017 these two countries performed better than Ghana, however Ghana is now at par with them.
According to Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International (TI), “With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights”. To make real progress against corruption and strengthen democracy around the world, Transparency International calls on all governments to strengthen the institutions responsible for maintaining checks and balances over political power, and ensure their ability to operate without intimidation; ii. Close the implementation gap between anti-corruption legislation, practice and enforcement; iii. Support civil society organizations which enhance political engagement and public oversight over government spending, particularly at the local level; iv. Support a free and independent media, and ensure the safety of journalists and their ability to work without intimidation or harassment.