The government remains committed to the fight against corruption and will continue to provide the necessary support and logistics to crime prevention, detection and prosecution agencies, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has assured.
Speaking at the 2nd Annual District Auditors’ Conference on Monday, the Vice President said since 2017, the government has made a sustained and aggressive push in the fight against corruption by enacting laws, tightening existing ones and introducing greater digitalization in governance and the use of public funds while increasing resources allocated to the fight.
He said when the government assumed office in 2017, corruption was prevalent in many institutions such as the DVLA, the Passport Office, Customs and other government institutions, “it was difficult renewing one’s NHIS, and for some reason, dockets kept getting ‘missing’ at the courts.”
There was also inadequate funding for anti-corruption agencies, Dr Bawumia said, adding: “the Right to Information Law had not been passed, there was no legal backing for a beneficial asset register and no law on Witness Protection.”
But since 2017, the Vice President said, the government took far-reaching measures in the fight against corruption, which includes the implementation of a digitization agenda to disrupt corruption in the public sector.
“We have also passed a number of key laws, including the Witness Protection Act, 2018 (Act 959), the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2018 (Act 959), the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2019 (Act 989) and the Companies Act, 2019, (Act 992) which provides a framework for enacting a beneficial ownership register,” Dr Bawumia explained.
“To further boost the fight against corruption, deficits in logistics and personnel of law enforcement agencies, especially the Ghana Police Service and other accountability institutions, are being addressed,” he emphasized.
For instance, Dr Bawumia said since 2017, the government increased budgetary allocations to all the accountability institutions of the state, including Parliament, the Judiciary, CHRAJ, EOCO, the Office of the Attorney-General and the Ministry of Justice, the Auditor General, the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Ghana Police Service.
He commended the Auditor-General, Mr Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, the Board of the Audit Service and the staff of the Service for “very good work being done.”
Vice President Bawumia, however, reminded the District Auditors and their colleagues across the country that when corrupt activities such as misappropriation of funds, payroll fraud and contract and procurement irregularities take place, the taxpayers expect that the public officials who commit these financial crimes would be sanctioned according to law.
One of the functions of the Auditor-General, which can combat these financial malpractices, is disallowance of any item of expenditure which is contrary to law and surcharge the amount of any expenditure disallowed.
The public and in particular Civil Society Organisations have expressed dissatisfaction that the Auditor-General has not performed this critical function effectively.
As part of the meeting, the District Auditors will use the greater part of this conference to discuss this very important topical issue of disallowance and surcharge.
Vice President Bawumia said he expected that those discussions would produce outcomes to inform the processes for disallowances and surcharges.
“Nevertheless, let me assure the Auditor-General and Members of the Audit Service Board that in the same spirit of cooperation, the government will continue to provide the necessary support to the Audit Service to ensure that it operates independently as the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana mandates.”
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD