Some civil society activists in Tamale in the Northern Region, have observed that sections and provisions in the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities as contained in the current draft Conduct of Public Officers Bill will not strengthen the assets declaration regime.
They contended that such sections in the provisions would also not stand the anti-corruption test but rather aid public officers to conceal their assets in raising issues with provisions in the Bill
“It is worrisome the current draft Conduct of Public Officers Bill, especially the provisions on Declaration of Assets and Liabilities, provided for the publication of names of public officers, who declare their assets and those who default but declared information is kept confidential,” they pointed out.
The activists raised the issues at a regional dialogue on accountability, organised by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) as part of the ‘Building Evidence for Increased Accountability in Ghana through Multi-stakeholder Accountability Initiative’ sponsored by Hewlett Foundation.
It was to offer the Coalition opportunity to present responses of three arms of government on governance issues, draft Conduct of Public Officers Bill, especially provisions on Declaration of Assets and Liabilities, as well as governance issues.
The project sought to enhance probity, transparency, accountability in governance, monitor implementation of assigned actions to key public institutions from the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan, engage the arms of government in anti-corruption and governance reforms.
The Bill recommended sanctions for failure to declare assets, stating that “failure to submit declaration or clarification attracts 100 – 250 penalty units, or six months to two years imprisonment, or both and failure of a public officer to keep declaration confidential attracts 250 – 500 penalty units, or two years to five years imprisonment, or both”.
The activists demanded that the punishment for failure to declare assets should be more punitive than the punishment for the public officer, who did not keep assets declared confidential.
Yahaya Samiratu, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the Centre for Active Learning and Integrated Development, said politicians were becoming players and referees in their own matches, and it was highly necessary to publish details of assets declared to help check corruption on public officers.