General News of 2013-12-07

Ban on christmas hampers must be strictly enforced - Vitus Azeem

The Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Vitus Azeem, has called for a strict implementation of the President’s directive cautioning Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to desist from using state funds to purchase hampers for individuals and institutions during the yuletide.

“When you give this directive, and there is no institution to check it, at the end of the day it is just like a political statement,” he said.

President Mahama on Thursday issued a directive signed by the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, directing all MDAs to desist from using public resources for Christmas and New Year gifts such as hampers during the coming yuletide.

The letter also asked Ministers of State to ensure strict compliance with the directive at all levels of government, adding that “Heads of MDAs which flout the directive would be surcharged with the cost of same to serve as a deterrent to others.”

But sharing his thoughts on the directive, Mr. Azeem questioned why there was no institution put in place by the President to ensure the directive was adhered to.

According to him, although the directive is a good step, “we can’t be sure that this is going to work especially when they have not specifically asked an institution to check on these things and ensure that those who contravene the instructions are brought to book.”

Mr. Azeem however cautioned executive ministers to be mindful of the gifts they receive because of the position they hold in society; saying “you never can know whether there is an intention to influence you in the future.”

Meanwhile, Information and Media Relations Minister, Mahama Ayariga in an explanation said the motive behind the directive is to ensure that government executives effectively cut down on cost and efficiently manage government resources.

“In addition, it is clearly also in our opinion, inappropriate to use public funds to purchase gifts to distribute to people," he stated