Africa must reduce corruption – Kaale-Ewola Dery

Professor Mike Oquaye,Speaker of Parliament.

Professor Mike Oquaye,Speaker of Parliament.

THE Vice Chairman of Ghana’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Edward Kaale-Ewola Dery, has charged PACs across Africa to step up their efforts if the continent was to make any progress in reducing the average US$148 billion it loses to corrupt activities annually.

Mr Dery was referring to Mrs  Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) who is an address at the 32nd ordinary session of the Executive Council of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, in January this year, said, the money, which was more than the forex direct investments and aid the continent receives was lost through various fraudulent activities.

“One Hundred and Forty-Eight billion dollars drained out of the continent through various corrupt activities, and the acts represent about 25 per cent of Africa’s average GDP” Mrs  Songwe told the Council.

These ‘wastages’, Mr Dery said at the opening session of the West African Regional Public Financial Management Training for Improved Budget Oversight and Accountability in Accra, yesterday was unacceptable for which reason the PACs on the continent must work hard to overcome.

The five-day gathering on the theme “Budget cycles in African parliamentary systems: Defining an active role and contribution of legislators”, brought together PAC members of West Africa to share notes and deepen their collaboration over their watchdog role.

It was jointly organised by the African Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (AFROPAC) and the West Africa Association of Public Accounts Committees and funded by German international development agency, GIZ.

In the view of Mr Dery, the Member of Parliament for Lambussie, the PACs, with the authority of parliaments, have been clothed with the powers to hold public servants, mostly in the executive, responsible on behalf of the citizenry.

“We must not betray our people for the trust they have reposed in us” Mr Dery said stressing the need to seal the holes “corrupt corrupt officials use to siphon money from the state.

Bemoaning the lack of resources to the PACs, the Lambussie MP asked for the committees to be given investigative powers to allow them move beyond the usual trend of reporting breaches in the management of the public kitty to plenary since virtually nothing was done to retrieve the lost misappropriated funds or punish people for their wrong.

According to Mr Dery, the African citizenry have become disillusioned by the conduct of the executive arm of government and was counting on the legislature to stop the leakages.

The vice chairman of AFROPAC, Angeline Ossege, in her remarks noted that while various governments have diverse public financial management backgrounds, “our contexts are in reality more common than we sometimes acknowledge.”

As representatives of the people in charge of the management of public finances, “we share a common goal: to promote the democratic accountability of our countries’ governments regarding their handling of public finances”; a responsibility she said the PACs must not shirk.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI                                                    

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