Delivering on our promises
Governance, Corruption & Public Accountability
GOVERNANCE, CORRUPTION AND PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY
For any country to develop, good governance, accountability as well as fighting corruption are very important ingredients. It is therefore the expectation that government and its agencies adhere to good governance practices and public officers should be accountable for their decisions, actions, inactions and general behaviour in the use of public resources. In this regard, monitoring, supervision and evaluation mechanisms should be strengthened in all public institution to enhance the monitoring, supervision and evaluation of public office holders.
This section puts into perspective, the policies and projects this government has initiated to improve good governance, accountability and reduce corruption. The government has introduced a number of measures to ensure and improve good governance, accountability and fight corruption. Some of these measures are discussed below.
As part of measures to reduce corruption in public offices and improve good governance, the administration of Nana Akufo Addo has, implemented systems and institutions with the aim of reducing human interaction in service delivery, while at the same time significantly increasing the resources allocation to anti-corruption agencies in an all-out effort to cut out waste and eliminate opportunities for corrupt practices.
INNOVATION AT THE DRIVER VEHICLE LICENSING AUTHORITY
The government has introduced a number of online systems and services to achieve these goals. For instance, the Driver Vehicle Lincensing Authority (DVLA), in 2019 introduced high security and digitised trade licensing with the aim of improving efficiency and security. The introduction of this system will not only improve revenue generation at the ports on imported vehicles but also working within its mandate to contribute to the overall government agenda of digitising the economy whilst significantly enhancing the ease of doing business in the country. This means that people can easily access the services of the Authority without paying bribes or using “goro boys”. This increases productivity and efficiency.
DIGITIZING PASSPORT APPLICATION
With government’s policy to formalised the economy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration from today, March 1, 2020, ceased all manual passport application operations after all the passport application centres became digitized. Aside making passport acquisition stress free, the aim is also to reduce bribery and corruption and delays that have fraught passport acquisition in the country.
ONE STOP SHOP FOR BUSINESSES AS GRA AND SNNIT BEGIN REGISTRATION AT THE REGISTRAR’S GENERAL DEPARTMENT
More importantly, middlemen, popularly, known as ‘goro boys’, have for sometime now taken advantage of the ignorance of some applicants and the bureaucracy involved in the business registration process. To end this as well as help improve Ghana’s ranking on the annual World Bank Doing Business Report, the Registrar General’s Department has digitised their process to avoid the stress, bureaucracy and corruption in registering businesses. The department has introduced an Electronic Queue Management System (EQMS), as well as a One Stop registration process which includes the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) at its front office on a three month pilot basis.
MICROFINANCE AND SMALL LOANS CENTRE(MASLOC) GOES DIGITAL
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, launched an Integrated ICT System which automates all the operations of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) in the country. The platform which is a collaboration between the centre, the ARP Apex bank and designed by the Eban Capital, the software providers automates end to end process of credit management, loan application, credit assessment, disbursement of loan, loan repayment and monitoring and reporting all to make loan assessable.
PAPERLESS SYSTEM IN OUR PORTS
The government has reduced corruption at the ports through the paperless reforms and to enhance trade facilitation in conformity with the World Trade Organization(WTO) requirement. The reform includes the removal of all customs barriers on the country’s transit corridor, a joint inspection by all regulatory agencies at the ports. and hundred per cent paperless transactions at the ports was introduced in September,2017.
The Minister of Finance has confirmed that the paperless system has rather reduced cost of doing business at the ports drastically. For instance, the total cost of doing business at the ports has reduced from GH¢1,280 to GH¢320 after the implementation of the Paperless Clearing System.
The new system had improved clearance process since importers and agents are able to receive Customs Classification Valuation Reports (CCVR) within 24 hours compared to the previous time frame of three days.
E-PROCUREMENT AT THE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AUTHORITY
The Public Procurement Authority (PPA) has introduced e-procurement. With the implementation of the e-procurement system, public procurement is now more transparent. The project is expected to enhance transparency in the public procurement process, provide a common platform for use by public institutions in public procurement and public financial management, as well as enhance competition by facilitating increased participation of service providers for government contracts. The new system is expected to bring relief to contractors and suppliers who are normally denied of the genuine opportunities to win bids for contracts they tender.
E-JUSTICE SYSTEM IN OUR COURTS
The e-justice programme has also been launched to automate the court processes. E-justice is the use of digital technologies, information, communication and knowledge management techniques to improve citizen’s access to justice while enabling efficiency, effectiveness and time delivery of justice. The introduction of the electronic platform aims to improve judicial accountability, transparency, and efficiency in the justice delivery in Ghana. The paperless court system would operate with minimum and limited interference hence there is a guarantee of greater delivery in our Justice System. Currently, plans are underway to digitised all lands in Ghana. It is hoped that when the land digitization process is also complete, corruption at the Lands Commission would be virtually eliminated.
INCREASED FUNDING TO STATE ANTI-CORRUTPTION INSTITUTIONS
As a commitment to deepen accountability and protect the public purse, government has increased budgetary allocations to the Audit Service, CHRAJ and other anti-corruption agencies. The Auditor General recently disclosed that the Service does not only receive their budget allocations on time than it used to be but also getting threefold, the resources it used to get, now. The Auditor General has so far disallowed some GHC 5billion of government expenditure in 2017. In May, 2020, the Auditor General’s Department again detected that the abuse of public funds through the use of unearned salaries (ghost names) to the tune of GH¢564.2 million on the payroll of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). The Auditor-General has therefore indicated his intention to surcharge the heads of these MDAs under whose watch the GH¢564.2 million losses occurred.
OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR
The government has passed the necessary legislation and appointed a Special Prosecutor to deal with exceptional cases of corruption. In November 2017, Parliament made history towards our the fight against corruption with the passage of the Office of Special Prosecutor Act, 2017(ACT 959). The purpose of the Act is to establish an Office of the Special Prosecutor as a specialised agency to investigate specific cases of corruption involving public officers, politically exposed persons, and persons in the private sector involved in the commission of corruption and to prosecute the offences on the authority of the Attorney-General. The office of the Special Prosecutor was a 2016 campaign promise the NPP made to the people of Ghana. Mr. Martin Amidu, also known in the public space as ‘Citizen Vigilante’ for his zero tolerance and campaign against corruption was named by President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the first Special Prosecutor.
PASSAGE OF THE RIGHT OF INFORMATION ACT
After two decades of back and forth, Parliament of Ghana passed the Right to Information bill into law in March 2019. The law provides for the operationalisation of the constitutional right to information held by public and some private institutions, subject to exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of public interest in a democratic society. The law also seeks to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and to provide for related matters.
One way to enhance revenue and identify all Ghanaians is to a comprehensive national database. Since coming into office, the National Identification Authority (NIA) is rolling out a National ID called Ghana Card. The aim is to register to all Ghanaians from age 15 years and issue them with national ID cards. So far, the exercise has been conducted in 15 regions throughout the country. As at May 31, 2020, the NIA had registered 11,062,472 Ghanaians. Out of this number, 10,887, 872 cards have been printed and 7,115, 209 of the cards issued. This will be a data base for state and private institutions with permission to access. This is also to help reduce crime, give easy access to information and plan for the country.
Specifically on corruption, government since assuming office in 2017 has initiated the prosecution of officials who have been involved in corrupt practises. Currently, the Attorney General is prosecuting more than 20 officials who have been involved in corruption. Three of these official were recently sentenced by a court for causing financial lost to the state to 16 years in prison and their assets taken over by the state to recoup the lost money.
All corruption allegations that have been levelled against officials of the current government have been investigated and some still under investigations. Some of the cases being handled by the Special Prosecutor is one involving the Public Procurement Authority boss and the one involving a Presidential staffer on illegal mining under this current administration. Furthermore, officials involved in the banking crisis including a former governor of the Bank of Ghana are currently standing trial over various charges for abusing the laws of the state.
Government alone cannot fight corruption and will have to collaborate with other bodies and individuals. There is no one fit solution in fighting corruption. It involves the combination of measures. Though beyond the use of technology to reduce corruption, government has also employed prosecution to serve as determent, the government is of the conviction that developing and strengthening of institutions and systems to improve transparency, accountability and timeliness in the accountability in the use of public resources is one surest way of fighting corruption.
- Office of the Special Prosecutor that will investigate corruption in public and private offices established.
- The Right to Information Bill that gives access to information to the general public passed by parliament after two decades.
- Anti-corruption state institutions like Audit Service and CHRAJ have received increased budgetary allocation than before.
- Audit Service for the first time in many years, received their budgetary allocation on time.
- Digitization or paperless systems introduced in the ports to reduce corruption and improve efficiency.
- Passport Application centres digitised to reduce human interaction, corruption and enhance efficiency.
- Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) digitised to reduce corruption, improve efficiency and transparency.
- Registrars Generals’ Business Registration Department digitised to improve efficiency and to do away with middlemen and corruption.
- MASLOC also digitised to enhance efficiency, improved accountability and transparency.
- E-Procurement introduced at the Public Procurement Authority to ensure transparency, fairness and reduce corruption.
- E- Justice has been introduced in our courts with the aim of reducing human interference, improve efficiency and ensure justice is always delivered.