Let’s fight corruption despite hurdles

It is sad to learn that corruption keeps increasing everywhere and things seem as if there is no need for good people in society to expend energies on calling for its eradication or reduction in situations where eradication is difficult.

It is intriguing that for the purposes of fighting corruption, governments enact various pieces of legislation yet at the end of it all, government officials themselves in particular are either flouting the laws or are complicit in flouting them.

If that is not the case, why should an individual or independent body, usually non-governmental, have the trouble of calling on the state to check one corruption case or another?

For instance, yesterday, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local chapter of Transparency International (TI), took advantage of an event in Accra to mark this year’s African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Day to call on the government to ensure the full compliance of the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) and Public Procurement Act (PPA) to safeguard all public funds and deliver value for money.

The non-governmental organisation explained that its call followed issues raised against the disbursement of COVID-19 fundsby the government which are likely to exacerbate the already high perception of corruption held by the public with regard to the management of funds.

The call came in handy because the day was commemorated on the theme ‘Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of COVID-19 Funds’.

The GII indicated that its Corruption Risks Assessment revealed that, so far, no audit of the COVID-19 interventions had been conducted or published for public accessibility.

Last month, the Minister of Finance, Mr Kenneth Ofori-Atta, was invited to Parliament to give an account of the disbursement of the COVID-19 funds, but the initiativeestablished in 1999 to focus on addressing corruption said the Finance Minister’s presentation could not be taken as constitute an audit or accountability as it focused on the headline items rather than the detailed expenditure and compliance issues regarding the use of public funds.

The GII, therefore, endorsed the probe ordered by Parliament into the disbursement.

As a fighter of corruption, the GII also asked that proper regulations and guidelines concerning sole sourcing in Government procurement be developed and that all public procurement records should easily be accessible to the public in a single file.

In addition, it appealed to Parliament to review the provision in Section 14 (3) of the PPA that vests power in the Minister of Finance to direct the use of a different procurement procedure where the Minister determines that it is in the ‘national interest’ to do so.

Furthermore, the GII asked heads of the government institutions and their subordinates adhere to their codes of ethics.

Hopefully, abiding by the codes of ethic can prompt these institutions to do everything appropriately, including following the public procurement process.

The Ghanaian Times commends the GII for its efforts in fighting corruption.

However, the paper wishes to state that it is not the case that public officials do not know the right thing; they intentionally flout the rules regulating disbursement of public funds and public procurement because they know they can escape punishment.

This is sad and without making reference to any particular case, the Ghanaian Times can say the public is aware of numerous corruption cases in which the culprits usually politicians and their cronies have been left to go scot-free.

Probably, that attitude fits into the idea that no government functions without corruption and so even where corruption is exposed, very little is done to punish it.

What then should society do? There is the need to continue to make the efforts to fight corruption otherwise there would be a free-for-all as a result of which the state would fail for the benefit of a few but to the worst hurt of the masses.

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