Story: Caroline Boateng
THE Office of Accountability (OA) has said it is going ahead with its plans to conduct a nation-wide survey on a corruption index.
The Daily Graphic issue of Friday, August 24, 2007, reported that the office was embarking on a corruption survey, which would reveal in reality corruption and not its perception as other studies tended to publish.
The revelations at the public hearings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on widespread corruption and malfeasance in the public service, have confirmed the hunch of Prof Kwabena Konadu Oduro, the Chairman of the OA, who told the Daily Graphic that he was going ahead with the study.
He said he felt only a slight vindication at the revelations, adding that the AO’s announced intention of undertaking a corruption index was borne out of its observations and studies that showed that corruption was prevalent in the public service rather than among political leaders as the perception was.
He said the study, which would give a corruption index rather than a perception of it, was far advanced and would be administered nation-wide.
According to him, when completed, it would present the country with facts on the prevalence of corruption for the its own confidence, instead of relying on studies of international bodies who documented only indicators on the perception of corruption they were not conversant with.
He said it would also be used to monitor and help in formulating strategies to prevent malfeasance in public service, all in line with ensuring good governance that was a key function of the OA.
Prof Oduro mentioned prosecution as one solution to stem the widespread malfeasance in the public service but emphasised monitoring and supervision of public service business as a key measure and more permanent answer.
He said in line with the office’s mandate as an in-house corruption preventive mechanism, it was currently strategising on institutions to ensure thorough monitoring of the resources of Ghanaians.
He explained that that might include the setting up of monitoring teams who would supervise to ensure that resources were used for what they were intended for.
Thus, through spot checks, these working groups, he said, would visit ministries and districts to verify if, for instance, a road tendered for was what had been constructed and if the money put in the construction was what was budgeted for.
On the law on causing financial loss to the state, Prof Oduro said he did not mind whether the law was amended or scrapped for, according to him, there were other laws in the statute books to ensure that those who were found doing wrong were held responsible.
Contributing, the head of Communications of the OA, Mr Kwamena Longdon, drew attention to the fact that most revelations at the PAC were primarily on financial administration and not on procurement, where ministers had a real stake and where lots of money were involved.
He said that was evidence of the sharpness of the monitoring of the OA, as it would make sure that all the provisions stipulated under the procurement act were adhered to.
Meanwhile other views solicited from the civil society organisations show that everybody is eager to see the measures that the government would institute to ensure an accountable public service.
Mr Steve Manteaw of the Centre for Budget Advocacy of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) proposed two immediate remedial actions that the government had to come out with.
The first was the recovery of money lost and the second, the need for the due processes of law to apply to those who were found to be part of the corrupt acts.
Mr Manteaw said the Attorney General, Mr Joe Ghartey, needed to evoke the law on “causing financial loss to the state” in so far as it had not been expunged from the law books.
Mr Manteaw said he was not surprised by the findings of the committee because corruption in the public service had been touted yearly in reports such as the Transparency International reports.
He, however, expressed his disappointed about the lack of will on the part of the government to pursue vigorously its motto of zero tolerance for corruption.
“When we spoke about corruption, they often said we had to provide evidence. Now this is the evidence they have,” he added.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Haruna Iddrissu, agreed that anyone found to be guilty had to face the full rigours of the law.
He said corruption had to be made “a high risk” crime by meting out punishment in a manner to deter others.
Mr Iddrissu added that there was the need for the application of wide ranging measures, such as the enforcement of rules and regulations in the public sector.
The Executive Director of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Ms Florence Denise, for her part, said institutional procedures in the public service had to be strengthened and monitored properly.