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Regional News Tue, 13 Nov 2007

Government is committed to fighting corruption-Baffour-Awuah

Sunyani (B/A) Nov. 13, GNA- Mr. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, on Monday said the government was commitment to fighting corruption in the country. He said the enactment of the Public Procurement Act, Financial Administration and Internal Audit Agency Act, establishment of the Office of Accountability and the recent holding of Public Accounts Committee meetings attested to such commitment. These were contained in an address read on behalf of Mr. Baffour-Awuah, at the opening of a two-day training of trainers' workshop on democracy and good governance, in Sunyani. The event was organized jointly by Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and sponsored by Misereor/KZE of Germany.

It was under the theme: "Fighting Corruption - An Agenda for Democracy and Good Governance," The Regional Minister said, "Currently, the Office of Accountability is embarking on corruption survey that would reveal in reality corruption and not its perception as some studies tend to portray."

Mr. Baffour-Awuah said the outcome of the survey would be used to strengthen the monitoring of corruption and help in initiating strategies to prevent malfeasance in the public service and other sectors of society.

He said, "Government acknowledges the perception of the canker in the society as corruption deprives people access to the basic necessities of life and undermines the government's effort to fight poverty, hunger, disease and to provide social amenities and infrastructural development. Mr. Baffour-Awuah said, "The fight against corruption should not remain the sole responsibility of government or a particular body, but rather the responsibility of all Ghanaians." He called on the media, non-governmental organisations and civil society bodies to collaborate efforts and fight corruption to promote democracy and good governance and to enable government to provide efficient services for the people to improve their standards of living.

Mr. Michael Amponsah, Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of NCCE, noted that the fight against corruption had been made a bit difficult. He explained that "there is a blatant refusal of people to admit the existence or prevalence of the canker as people turn to speculate that its a mere perception, notably among those who benefited from the practice."

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Mr. Amponsah reiterated the need for Ghanaians to demonstrate strong commitment towards the fight against corruption and said curbing the practice had come with some nagging questions.

He said "Questions such as what extent have we as a nation dealt with the fight against corruption, to what extent has public education about this problem been effectively carried out to alert the populace about the consequences of such an action or how much attention has been given to the dispassionate application of due process of the law, should people be caught in that crime?"

Mr. Vitus A. Azeem, Executive Secretary of GII, called for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill and transparency enhancing legislations as well as the enforcement of other anti-corruption legislations that had been passed to help stem corruption. He commended the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament for the bold step it took and called for those exposed in the corrupt practices to be brought to book.

Mr. Azeem noted that allegations of politicians giving money to potential voters were not good for Ghana's democracy. He said "We have a responsibility to ensure that electoral processes and procedures are free and transparent because allowing undemocratic practices such as vote buying, abuse of incumbency, misuse of state resources, will not only undermine the process, but throw into question the legitimacy of those who get elected into public office." He appealed to Ghanaians to vote according to their conscience whilst considering the integrity, knowledge, experience and ability of such candidates to lead the country.

Mr. Azeem condemned the situation where there was open declaration of support for some presidential aspirants by some traditional rulers and religious leaders. He asked traditional rulers not to make pronouncements that would let people lose confidence in the chieftaincy institution and said the numerous chieftaincy disputes dented the image of the institution. Bishop Matthew Gyamfi of the Sunyani Diocese of the Catholic Church, appealed to Ghanaians to ensure that the new breed of young generation was educated about corruption and its consequences to guarantee a corruption-free society. He the Catholic Church expressed worry about the failure of the New Education Reform to include religious and morale education and civic education in the curricular of Ghanaian schools.

Source: GNA
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