President John Dramani Mahama has stated that the fight against corruption is an uphill task which needs “a partnership of the willing” to be able to tackle.
Admitting that the nation had more work to do in battling the canker, he said all must come together in the fight.
Speaking to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on the sidelines of the UK Prime Minister’s Anti-corruption Summit in London yesterday, the President said corruption had become a major national issue because people were able to discuss it more freely.
But he was quick to add that his approach to the fight had been phenomenal, compared to the past.
He said in the past people were asked to bring evidence before allegations of corruption were investigated but he had ensured that allegations of corruption were quickly investigated to bring the perpetrators to book.
I have not taken bribe
Asked whether he had ever taken bribe, the President answered in the negative.
“I have not taken a bribe. Any human being would have encountered corruption in one way or another,” he said, adding that what was important was to be in a position to resist it.
On contracts awarded by officials, the President said the circumstances under which sole sourcing was applied were being reviewed.
“Now I have given a directive that every contract that is sole-sourced must be subjected to value for money, so that the people of Ghana do not lose out,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ghana has expressed its commitment to prevent the misuse of companies and legal arrangements to hide the proceeds of corruption.
Presenting Ghana’s position on corruption at the summit, the President said the government would further strengthen the Companies Bill and the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill currently before Parliament to ensure that beneficial ownership information for all sectors, including the oil and gas sector, was made public.
That would be done in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, as well as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standards that Ghana was implementing.
Preventing facilitation of corruption
Explaining how Ghana was preventing the facilitation of corruption, the President said, “Ghana is strengthening measures to combat money laundering and countering financing of terrorism, corruption and other predicate offences.”
He added that the country was committed to implementing the recommendations contained in the National Risk Assessment Report of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) launched in Accra on April 28, 2016 as soon as the implementation plan was validated.
He said openness was the watchword in public procument, adding: “We will continue to blacklist and debar service providers and contractors who engage in corrupt and other related misconduct in public procurement.”
On improving transparency in commodity markets, he said, “As an oil producing country, we welcome the invitation to partner major trading hubs to explore the scope for a common global reporting framework for oil sales transparency and working in partnership with key producer countries which have suffered from theft of oil revenue through grand corruption.”
President Mahama also said legislation was being strengthened and through that, together with other measures, the country hoped to enhance the capacity of the public and encourage them to report corruption without fear of victimisation.
On asset recovery, he said Ghana was committed to strengthening further its asset recovery capability, including amending relevant legislation and introducing unexplained wealth orders legislation; and exploring the possibility of expanding the scope of its non-conviction based forfeiture legislation and also adopting measures to manage and regulate the administration of frozen, seized or confiscated property.
“Ghana has signed onto the Addis Tax Initiative, as well as the Common Reporting Standard Initiative, and commits to strengthen partnerships with other countries to lift bank secrecy and curb tax avoidance by companies registered in offshore tax havens,” President Mahama said.
While stressing integrity as one of the fundamental principles of Ghanaian society and cornerstone of the democratic dispensation,he said, “As part of efforts to promote integrity in our institutions, Ghana welcomes partnerships that will enable anti-corruption agencies and other institutions in its public sector to learn and exchange information.”
He stated that Ghana would, therefore, play an active role in the Anti-corruption Innovation Hub with a view to improving information management to combat corruption and consider taking part in the people-powered anti-corruption programme.
“The fight against corruption can succeed if countries cooperate effectively to tackle it, but it is important to bear in mind that no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution is possible. We reiterate Ghana’s commitment to the fight against corruption. Ghana, therefore, endorses the high level goals of the summit as they generally align to the country’s own strategy to combat corruption,” the President concluded.