General News of 2014-05-21

Security agencies are weak, corrupt - Kwasi Jonah fires

An integrity initiative, Open Governance, was on Tuesday launched in Ghana, with security and government agencies coming under scrutiny for allegedly fueling crime and corruption.

“White collar crime is [rising] at an alarming rate, inflicting serious damages to its victims, governments and citizens, and has the potential to collapse economies of states in the sub-region,” political scientist, Kwasi Jonah, said, adding that security and state agencies tasked to deal with crime were weak and corrupt.

“They are weak, corrupt and must be up for the fight against white collar crime in Ghana and in the sub-region.”

Early this year, corruption was discovered in the payment of monies to companies working with Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) and the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), forcing the government to form a 14–member technical committee.

Ghana government has so far paid over Ghc600 million as judgment debts since 2009.

Questionable judgment debts paid to businessman Alfred Abgesi Woyome, Waterville and CP also moved government to form a judgment debt commission.

The government justified payment of about 74 million Ghana cedis to IT firm, Subah InfoSolutions Limited, a company alleged to have collected 144 million cedis for no work done; after it was contracted by the Ghana Revenue Authority in 2010 to provide telecom traffic monitoring services for revenue verification for the tax agency.

But a government investigative committee exonerated the firm arguing that Subah justifiably incurred cost in executing the contract for which reason it was paid 74.3 million Ghana cedi.

Ghana Integrity Initiative, a local chapter of transparency international, called for a forensic audit, but nothing seems to be going on.

“The future does not look bright, the state is forced to pay avoidable judgment debts running into millions of cedis,” a leading official of the initiative, Vitus Azeem said.

Fines and terms of imprisonment meted out to crime offenders are not often sufficiently deterrent, a situation Mr. Kwasi Jonah attributed to West Africa being a transit point for drugs from Latin America.

State parties ought to pay attention to fighting corruption with the discovery of oil and booming trade activities along the Gulf of Guinea, he continued.

Jonah called for stiffer punishment, blending fine and jail terms in addition to a full recovery of the amount with interest.

The Open Governance project is being implemented in Ghana, Ukraine, Peru and Indonesia; to empower citizens to develop and use rights to information, participation and accountability in governance to improve their lives.