PUBLIC OFFICIALS MUST DECLARE ASSETS

One cardinal reason why public officials are required by law to declare their assets is to prevent corruption.

Besides, it is to increase transparency and trust in public administration, prevent conflict of interest, embezzlement, to avoid false accusations of public officials and to monitor politicians and public servants.

In line with these legitimate concerns and in pursuance of article 286 of the 1992 constitution, all public office holders, both past and current, are expected to declare their assets.

Apart from the intention of the law to ensure transparency and full public disclosure of assets of elected and public officials, declaration of assets is an effective tool against corruption.

Unfortunately, it appears that some elected and public officials are not keen on declaring their assets as demanded by law.

As published elsewhere in this paper, it is evident that some officials are behind time and are being reminded by the Ghana Audit Service to comply with the law without further delay.

The statement warned that failure to declare the assets or make false declaration shall be in contravention of the 1992 Constitution.

Although the statement did not indicate how many and what category of officials have flouted the law, we are concerned that the constitutional demand is not being respected.

The Times holds the view that an effective asset declaration system can reduce corruption and abuse of power. The lack of compliance and effective mechanism for verification of assets of public officials is creating conditions for corruption.

Is it any wonder that, there is a huge corruption perception hanging around the neck of politicians and public servants in the county?

Politicians and public officials in positions of trust would do themselves a lot of good if they willingly comply with the law by declaring their assets.

We suggest further that the current process of assets declaration be expanded to include public scrutiny of the declared assets.

If the idea is for us to use the assets declaration to fight corruption and abuse of power, then the public and civil society must be allowed to scrutinise the asset declared closely.

This is the only way by which leaders can be held accountable and prevented from dipping their hands into the national kitty.

For greater openness and for the fight against corruption to succeed, all elected and public officials must declare their assets without further delay.

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