Open Governance Project bearing fruits

The Minister of State in charge of Public Sector Reform, Mr. Alhassan Azong, has said the Open Governance Project (OGP) was making progress since Ghana signed onto it in 2011.

Mr. Azong said the passage of the Public Financial Management Law, the Exploration and Production Law amongst others were indicators that the project was bearing fruits.

He also mentioned the amendment of the Companies Act to include Beneficial Ownership Disclosure and broadening the scope of open contracting of the Procurement Authority as some of the proof of the success of the project.

The OGP is a scorecard in the assessment of government performance in the areas of accountability, transparency, citizen participation and innovation.

In an address read on his behalf at a National Forum on Open Governance organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the Public Sector Reform Secretariat (PSRS) in Accra yesterday, Mr. Azong said there was more to be done to reach the desired result.

The forum, on the theme “Building an Open Government in Ghana: Why Open Governance Matters” was aimed at improving service delivery and accountability through the Open Governance Project (OGP).

Operational in 63 countries, Ghana signed onto the OGP declaration in September 2011 which enjoins it to develop its OGP national action plan through a broad base consultative process for submission to the global secretariat of the project.

Mr. Azong, who doubles as the Member of Parliament for the Builsa South constituency, said the OGP was a good project which had the propensity to deepen Ghana’s democratic pillars.

Civil society groups, he said, have a role to play in this direction and playing that role in good faith was crucial to bringing governance closer to the people.

The sustainability of that collaboration between government and civil society organisations would be the channel to bring about transparency and accountability in the management of public funds through the use of open governance, he stated.

But Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh, the Country Director for SEND Ghana, said the project was still at theory level and needed to be made operational.

He thinks the imbalance level of interest for coordination, especially on the side of state representatives on the OGP implementation committee, was worrying and needed to be upped.

According to him, Ghana’s commitment to the OGP was a forgotten one since the Public Sector Reforms Secretariat, tasked to lead the implementation of the project, was underfunded.

Should extra dedication be given to the OGP, Ghana would have done better in transparency in governance that the current situation, he stated.

Programmes Manager at the GII, Mrs. Mary Awelana Addah, on her part called on the media to propagate the OGP and hold public office holders accountable for their deeds.

She said the Right to Information Bill, if passed into law would deepen participatory democracy in the country.

Mrs. Addah was hopeful parliament would pass the bill into law before it was dissolved on January 6 next year.

By Julius Yao Petetsi & Benedicta Ampadu Okyere                                 





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