The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has said the declaration of assets should not be shrouded in secrecy as doing so can defeat the objective for the passage of the Conduct of Public Officers Law.
“Ghana has an opportunity to truly strengthen our anti-corruption fight through the Conduct of Public Officers Law.
“We are confronted with corruption. Only legislation will give us a fighting chance,” Mrs. Beauty Emefa Narteh GACC Executive Director has said.
Mrs. Narteh who was speaking at a symposium to mark International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) celebrations in Ghana organised by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
Speaking on the theme: “Curbing Corruption in Ghana through a Robust Conduct of Public Officers Law: Perspectives of Civil Society,” Mrs. Narteh appealed to stakeholders especially the Legislature and Executive not to dilute the Conduct of Public Officers Bill before passage.
“We stand a better chance of detecting, punishing and or preventing corruption with a Robust Conduct of Public Officers Law,” Mrs. Narteh stated.
Mrs. Narteh also adjudged that publication was another asset declaration programme, stressing that “publication is provided by the Bill from the last Parliament.
However, according to the GACC Executive Director, the Bill referred to the publication of names of public officers who have declared and those who have defaulted and that the declared information be kept confidential.
Mrs. Narteh described the publication of declared assets as an anti-corruption tool that would require that the names of public officers and their assets and liabilities are published and kicked against any attempt to keep the declared assets confidential.
“Publication invites the public to offer another layer of verification. A publication of assets and liabilities could lead to potential whistleblowers from the community informing the relevant authorities of missing assets and liabilities from the publicized declaration,” she said.
Mrs. Narteh, however, acknowledged the legitimate concerns of privacy when it comes to the issue of the publication, stressing “we take the issue of privacy very seriously.
“Nevertheless, considering the prevalence and pervasiveness of corruption in this country, we need to ask ourselves, on which side do we wish to err? Confidentiality or Anti-Corruption?
The GACC Executive Director revealed that in some African Countries, provision was made for the disclosure of information with few limitations sometimes upon application and payment of a fee.
She cited Tanzania where the particulars of a declaration were kept in a register accessible to the public and in South Africa, the register has two parts: a confidential part and a public part. Liabilities of public office holders are recorded in the confidential part of the register.
Mrs. Narteh, therefore, affirmed that the existence of a register was a common feature of countries that allow public disclosure.