General News Tue, 20 May 2003

Don't Place Office Of Accountability Under Presidency

The report of the fifth National Governance Workshop has recommended that the government’s Office of Accountability should not be placed under the presidency.

Instead it recommends that the office should be autonomous of government in order to ensure its effectiveness and independence. However, the Special Assistant at the Office of the President, Dan Agyeman disagreed with the view that the office of Accountability would not be independent and therefore not effective when it is placed under the office of the President.

He maintained that though government had taken note of the recommendation, it held a different view, because independent institutions set up in the past to perform similar functions, had not been effective, hence government’s decision to place the office under the presidency for proper monitoring.

Mr. Agyemang, who performed the launch of three anti-corruption publications including the report on the governance workshop last week, said in spite of the disagreement between the report and the government’s position, the office would be operational before the end of next month.

The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, (GII) an organisation affiliated to the Ghana Anti-corruption coalition (GACC) Yaw Buaben Asamoah, however suggested that depending on the scope of work, the office of Accountability could be placed under the President or outside his office.

He explained that if the office is to serve as a regulatory body that would keep the president and government officials on their toes then it should be placed outside the presidency. On the other hand if it is to serve as an anti-corruption outfit to deal with issues on corruption not only related to government officials, then if could be under the presidency.

Mr Asamoah also cautioned against the duplication of roles by the office and other public institutions that have similar objectives. The workshops, which were held in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale in 2001 was to adopt an action, plan for a national anti-corruption campaign and mobilise support for the implementation of the government’s policy of zero tolerance for corruption.

The report also asks that corruption and the policy of zero tolerance should be defined in order to clarify issues for both public officers and other stakeholders as well as provide a basis for assessing government’s will in the anti-corruption campaign.

Participants further recommended that punishment for the offence should be severer to serve as a deterrent. The report also recommends that anti-corruption rules must to be codified.

Source: .