If we do not do anything about corruption in the country, we will all perish under its weight because in some cases corruption can lead to death.
When people do not have clean water because an official did not supervise a contractor to do a good job but approved the work because of kick back, or a person is denied basic services because he/she could not pay under the table and better still, parents must pay bribe before their children can be treated of diarrhoea from polluted water, it can lead to death.
Indeed, corruption is a canker that must be uprooted completely from society and that is why we applaud the Vice President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia for the assurance that the government would collaborate with parliament to pass the Conduct of Public Officers (COPO) Bill into law early next year, to rein in on corruption in the public sector.
According to him, the bill, which is the oldest outstanding bill before parliament, is “one law that can help build integrity in the Public Service, and we cannot afford to delay it any further.”
The bill, since its drafting about 10 years ago, has been in and out of parliament. When passed, it would guide public officials to avoid compromising and conflicting situations in their work, as generally stated in the Constitution.
The Vice President who was speaking at a National Conference to commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) and end this year’s Anti-Corruption and Transparency (ACT) Week in Accra yesterday, emphasised that the government was serious about the fight against corruption.
In furtherance of this, he said, the government had ensured the passage of laws to boost the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), a 10 year national strategy to tackle graft as well as the Witness Protection Act, 2018 (Act 959), the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2018 (Act 959) and the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2019 (Act 989).
As a matter of fact, the effective implementations of these laws are good but may not be enough to eradicate corruption in our society.
This is because in spite of the numerous laws available to check procurement breaches in the country, the practice appears to be on the ascendancy. Indeed, procurement breaches are one of the major offences that the government must confront.
The annual Auditor-General’s report is a clear testimony that procurement fraud is rampant in public institutions engaged in flawed public tenders that often led to poor execution of contracts.
When that happens, it becomes a wasteful expenditure at a huge cost to the taxpayer, who has to pick up so many other bills. And perhaps more importantly, it also undermines implementation of key government projects.
It is the wish of the Ghanaian Times that, as we commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day, more stringent ways are found to punish public officials who continue to engage in procurement fraud in spite of efforts being made to deal with it.
The practice where officials found culpable are asked to refund or pay back the misused funds is not working.
We must stiffen the punishment and make corruption unattractive in the country. That is the only way to reduce or eliminate the canker.