Executive Director of Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), COP Maame Tiwaa Addo-Danquah has hinted that the fight against corruption in Ghana can be successful only when the various institutions team up to tackle the menace holistically.
She made these known at a symposium organised by the Internal Audit Agency as it marked its 20th Anniversary in Accra.
Speaking on the theme 'Relevance of preventing corruption in Ghana through Institutional collaboration role of the Internal Auditor', she said "In this regard, there is the need for reforms of the respective legal and regulatory frameworks of these institutions to render corruption unattractive and a dangerous venture to undertake"
She added that several collaborative initiatives should be undertaken by the institutions in the areas of training, information sharing and joint operations.
COP Maame Tiwaa Addo-Danquah stressed that there should be effective anti-corruption programmes, financial crimes, and Asset Recovery initiatives to swiftly recover proceeds of corrupt activities and severe punishment for those embroiled in it.
"Taking financial resources away from criminals is the main tool to sustainably fight organized corrupt activities"
"In all the recommendations above, the lead role of the Internal Audit Agency in the fight against corruption cannot be over-emphasized. The Agency needs to roll out stringent policies and regulations to promote financial discipline in every sphere of public and private life"
She noted that the Agency needs to institute mechanisms to monitor, evaluate procurement and other contractual projects which often become a prominent source of corruption.
"Accountability mechanisms should be in place from the phases of awarding contracts, planning, procurement, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all projects"
"A robust control system, comprising effective internal control, risk management and audit, remain fundamental to better governance, safeguarding taxpayers’ money and preserving public trust"
The Executive Director noted that she is confident that the IAA will continue to effectively lead the collaboration with other state Institutions to roll out concrete and sustainable mechanisms to mitigate and curtail the menace of corruption in both private and public sphere of our nation.
On corruption perception, Maame Tiwaa Addo-Danquah said "Research finding published in 2019 by Transparency International in partnership with Afrobarometer and captured in the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB), indicates that, in thirty-four (34) African countries, more than half of all citizens think that corruption is getting worse in their country and that their governments are doing a bad job at tackling corruption"
"The GCB also found that more than one in four people who accessed public services, such as health care and education, paid a bribe. This equates to approximately 130 million citizens in 35 countries surveyed"
She noted that the GCB reveals how corruption is hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest.
Causes of corruption
On causes of corruption, the EOCO Boss explained that a survey conducted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in 2016 ranked; greed and selfishness, getting rich quick attitude, low salaries and income levels, lack of ethics or morals, lack of punitive and deterrent sanctions, lack of clear rules and laws, abuse of power in the public sector, excessive bureaucracy and socio-cultural demands as the major causes of corruption in Ghana
Effects of corruption
Touching on diminished state capacity as an effect of corruption, Maame Tiwaa Addo-Danquah said "Corruption undermines political power. For example, to the extent that bribery, trading in influence and state capture are widespread, political systems become incapable of addressing social problems whose resolution would threaten vested interests"
Undermining the Sustainable Development Goals
She said "Corruption hampers the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are comprehensive and their vulnerability to being undermined by corruption is unsurprising. It is entirely conceivable that "a better and more sustainable future for all" often runs counter to the interests of a few and can be derailed through many forms of corruption. Under conditions of diminished State capacity, nations fail to eradicate poverty, address hunger, secure good healthcare and high-quality education for their citizens"
Organised crime and nefarious activities
She said "Nefarious elements in society thrive as proceeds can be laundered, funding disguised, and judicial officials and politicians corrupted through bribes (including gifts, favours and other benefits)"
She explained that levels of violence, illegal drugs, prostitution, sexual slavery, kidnapping, and intimidation rise accordingly.
"The causal arrow goes in both directions. Not only does organized crime cause corruption, but opportunities for corruption left open by a weak, negligent, or incapable State can also lead to organized crime"
Ghana’s legal framework in the fight against corruption
The EOCO Boss stressed that all post-independence leaders in Ghana have had to deal with corruption as a national problem.
"The Constitution of Ghana (1992) also mandates the State to take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and abuse of power. This Constitutional imperative is concisely captured by Article 35(8) under the Directive Principles of State Policy"
"In furtherance of the above, there is a call for comprehensive and collaborative counter measures from institutions clothed with requisite legal mandate to mitigate and combat corruption in the country"
Role of the internal auditor in preventing corruption
As part of reforms under Ghana’s Public Financial Management Programme, the EOCO Boss mentioned that proposals were made for the establishment of a Central Internal Audit Agency to enhance efficiency, accountability and transparency in the management of resources in the Public Sector.
She noted that the Internal Audit Agency was consequently established by the Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act 658) to co-ordinate, facilitate and provide quality assurance for internal audit activities within Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies.
Taking his turn, Deputy Commissioner, CHRAJ, Richard A. Quayson noted that there is a global consensus that corruption remains one of tye most malicious human engineering.
He added that corruption undermines good governance and the rule of law, erodes public confidence in the merit-rewards system, fosters public sector incompetence and ineptitude.
"It also debases public morality, promotes and sustains inefficient service delivery, perpetuates poverty and ultimately underdevelopment"
The Deputy Commissioner noted that his outfit's approach to fight corruption has been to work in cooperation with all stakeholders to lay a strong foundation that can sustain the effort to prevent and combat it at all levels.
He mentioned that NACAP will help build a public capacity to condemn and fight corruption and make it a high-risk low-gain activity.
Other speakers challenges the Internal Audit Agency to leave no stone unturned in order to help fight corruption in Ghana.
Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith