Business News of 2013-12-10

Corruption is harmful to economy

The USA Deputy Chief of Mission to Ghana, C. Pat Alsup, has said that corruption inflicts substantial costs on the economy, society, security, and saps confidence in the rule of law.

“No country is immune from individual government representatives who yield to temptation. But corruption should never be accepted as ‘normal’, as ‘that's just the way it is’,” she said.

“There are ways in which we can work together to strengthen independence of the judiciary, to build capacity in law enforcement divisions, and to tighten efficiencies in order to provide less leeway to potential bad actors.”

She added that the United States leads by example internationally with robust domestic prevention and enforcement efforts, strong international implementation, and significant support for capacity building.

“In our experience, the best deterrent is a strong system of checks and balances. Corruption must be addressed by governments, civil society, and the private sector through both top-down and bottom-up efforts.”

She was speaking at a forum to mark International Anti-Corruption Day at the American Embassy in Accra. The panel on the forum also included award-winning journalist, Manasseh Azure; Daniel Batidam, Executive Director of the African Parliamentarians’ Network Against Corruption Secretariat; and executives from the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

She also touched on the efforts of the media in the fight against corruption. “A free, objective, vibrant and courageous media with dogged determination helps shine the light where there might otherwise be darkness.”

The Deputy Chief of Mission added that there is also an important role for civil society organisations and think-tanks in fighting corruption. “It takes time and commitment to monitor whether a government does what it says it will do. Civil society organisations play a very important role in collecting, analysing and publicising data in a manner that is comprehensible and digestible to Ghanaians.”

Manasseh Azure said public-private partnerships should be very transparent to all parties involved, and not shrouded in secrecy. While acknowledging the importance of PPPs to development of the economy, Mr. Azure said, nonetheless, such agreements must be made available for everyone interested.

“Public-private partnerships are good for us, but all we want is absolute transparency from the private company and the public outfit that have signed the agreement. This will help build confidence and trust between the public and private sector.

“The GYEEDA saga, which is a PPP between the government and some private entities, was not transparent at all. When I asked some of the workers under some of the GYEEDA modules if they knew that they earned just 20 percent of what the government paid the private businesses, they were taken by surprise.

“To me what is happening now is a scam and very scandalous. The situation must be rectified immediately, because to me some of the PPPs can be described as ‘Public-Private Plundering’.”

He added that the media has a crucial role to play in uncovering corrupt practices in society.

“Journalists must be willing to sacrifice a lot if we want a corruption-free society. We must not see our positions as money-making avenues. We should be ready to compromise our personal comfort and desist from being mouthpieces for corporate institutions and politicians.”