Panellists at a public forum on declaration of assets by public office holders and the fight against corruption in Ghana has called for the enforcement of the law on asset declaration
According to them institutions also mandated to ensure that public officers declare their assets should be “up and doing.”
The panellists were Vitus Azeem an anti-corruption crusader, Beauty Emefa Narteh, Executive Secretary, Ghana Anti-corruption Coalition, Justice Abdulai, a private legal practitioner and a lecturer, University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) and Manasseh Azure Awuni, Editor in Chief at the Fourth Estate.
Mrs Narteh said public officers had six months upon assumption of office to declare their assets and that was offensive to the constitution adding that “once people have a breathing space to declare their assets a lot of things happen.”
She said another challenge was that the custodian of the declaration was also not able to give the list of those eligible to declare their assets, explaining that the Ghana Audit Service was positioned as a recipient.
She also mentioned that another challenge was the appointing authorities who were supposed to know the number of appointees who had declared their assets and those who had not, and make sure they declare their assets.
Mrs Narteh called on the government to ensure that the Conduct of the Public Officers’ Bill was passed before 2024.
Mr Azeem said the lack of commitment on the part of leadership was the bane of the issue as well as enforcement of the law, adding that “if no one reports to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) no investigations will be conducted,” and that the commission was not proactive.
Mr Abdulai said there were some administrative challenges because the law had expanded the number of people expected to declare their assets.
He stated that CHRAJ had been empowered to enforce the law but they had no penal measures clearly stated to be meted out to anyone who did not comply, adding that “I think it is the biggest of our challenge and it the reason we have not seen that adequate compliance.”
Findings of the Fourth Estate on the compliance with the asset declaration law revealed that 50 out 87 of the executives of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s administration from 2021 till date had declared their assets while 37 had not.
It also stated that out of the 127 executives of the current government from 2017 to 2021, only 27 had fully declared their assets, 26 never declared, 66 declared once while only eight declared when exiting.
The findings again indicated that the President and the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia fully declared their assets.
It also mentioned that with regard to the eighth parliament (2017-2021), 95 parliamentarians had fully declared their assets while, 180 did not and for the first term law makers, 85 of them had not declared their assets.
The findings also mentioned that some ministers under the Akufo-Addo’s tenure never declared their assets since 2017.
They were Deputy Minister of Energy, William Owuraku Aidoo, former Deputy Minister of Communication and Digitilisation Vincent Sowah Odotei and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Scheme and former Deputy Health Minister Bernard Oko Boye,
The rest were the Deputy Minister Roads and Highways, Anthony N-Yoh Puowele Karbo, Francis Kingsley Ato Cudjoe a former Deputy Minister Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Metropolitan Chief Executive of Accra Elizabeth Kwatsoo Tetteh Sackey and the Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission Samuel Yeyu Tika.
BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU