PARTICIPANTS at an anti-corruption forum in Accra yesterday advocated more resource allocation to anti-corruption agencies to enable them to deal effectively with corrupt related issues.
According to them, the perception of high corruption in the country and among some public officials was worrying and the earlier something was done to address the situation, the better it would be for the country.
They contended that though a number of agencies seemed to be doing more to address the situation, much was not heard of prosecution to serve as deterrent to others.
For instance, they said, lot of wrong and corrupt practices were being perpetuated in the public sector and it require courageous institutions and leadership to reveal the odd and prosecute the culprits like was done by the Bureau of National Investigation to unravel the rot at the National Service Secretariat.
Most often, they claimed because funding was provided by the government to run public independent institutions like the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) among others, they feared to prosecute government officials cited for corrupt acts.
They therefore urged heads of state independent bodies like CHRAJ, the Economic and Organised Office, the Financial Intelligence Center, the Electoral Commission, the National Commission for Civic Education, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and the National Media Commission, to be bold even at the risk of losing their job for standing their grounds.
A participant, Mr. George Osei-Bempeh, Country Director of SEND Ghana, cited the courageous position of Mr. Justice Francis Emile Short, a former Commissioner of CHRAJ, who raised pertinent issues against the government by then, though the consequences were that the budgetary allocation to the Commission was slashed down and delayed.
Opening the forum, the Executive Director of Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), Mr. Augustine Niber, said the forum was to discuss how best to reform and resource anti corruption institutions to enable them to combat the menace which had eaten deep into every facet of the society effectively.
He said though a number of laws were such as the Public Procurement Act (Act 663) the Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act 658) the Whistle Blowers Act, Act 2008 (Act 720) the Financial Administration Act, 2003 (Act 654), and the Public Office Holders-Declaration of Asset and Disqualification Act, 1998 (Act 550), among others were passed to deal with corruption and economic crimes,, much was not seen in dealing with the menace.
He asked if the existing laws on corruption were not potent enough to deal with the situation or if it was the institutions and agencies that were to enforce the laws and combat corruption that were weak or under resourced and therefore incapable of performing their functions effectively.
A law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Mr. Victor Brobbey, said the time had come for the country to take a strong position to deal with the challenge.
By Francis Asamoah Tuffour