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Politics Tue, 16 Jul 2013

CHRAJ’s guidelines for Conflict of Interest

The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) says a conflict of interest arises when “there is a conflict between a given person’s duty as a public officer and his or her interest as a private person.”

According to the Commission’s Guideline on Conflict of Interest (COI), “when the promotion of private interest of a public official results or is intended to result in or appears to be or the potential to result in an interference with the objective exercise of the person’s duty and an improper benefit or an advantage by virtue of his/her position, then it constitute a COI.”

The CHRAJ defines a public officer as a person nominated, elected or appointed to serve in a public office. Public office includes an office the emoluments attached to which are paid directly out of moneys provided by Parliament and an office in a public corporation established entirely out of public funds or moneys provided by parliament.

The document, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Monday, noted that, the three major causes of COI include nepotism, financial interest and outside employment.

It said private interest could be financial or other interest, such as family members, relations, clubs and associations, among others.

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It said there are three types of COI, namely; real, potential and apparent; declaring that actual conflict of interest leads to improper performance of duties such as abuse of power and corruption.

The document stated that apparent COI occurs when the private interest could improperly influence the performance of a public duty, but it is not the case yet.

It said the existence of private interest where there is the possibility of a COI situation arising if the public officials were to take the relevant official responsibility in the future is potential COI.

It explained that, apparent and potential COI’s are potentially corrupt conduct, but which may never happen if steps were taken to prevent them from occurring.

The Commission cited COI situations as self-dealing, partiality in the performance of official duties, recruiting and employing relation, moonlighting, using public office for private benefits, among others.

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It said moonlighting is engaging in another employment while in office as a public officer, whereas self-dealing was the practice of soliciting some forms of benefit in exchange for the exercise of one’s official authority or influence.

It said, as soon as a COI situation is foreseeable, the public official involved must take all appropriate steps to remove himself/herself from the situation or the official could report the COI situation and its circumstances to his/her superior officer or disclose the conflict.

The Commission urged heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to provide orientation on the guidelines to all staff, develop in-house COI policies or guidelines in conformity with its COI guidelines.

Source: GNA