Mr Vitus Azeem, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), a local chapter of Transparency International, a non-governmental organization that promotes transparency, accountability and good governance, told a press conference in Accra on Tuesday that Ghana was ranked 62nd on the list of 178 countries compared with 69th in 2009.
“You will recall that Ghana scored 3.3 in 1999 when it was first captured by the index, experienced some improvements but declined to this score (3.3) in 2003 and 2006. However, since then, it has made some gains, scoring 3.7 in 2007 and 3.9 in both 2008 and 2009,” he said.
Mr Azeem, however, said there was no cause to celebrate, as Ghana had still not caught up with any of the leading countries since the inception of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
He pointed out that rather than being complacent, “the score should continue to remind us that we are far from winning the fight against corruption, which also frustrates our fight against poverty, disease, ignorance, crime and insecurity.
“There are gains but corruption still remains an enormous drain on Ghana’s limited resources which can better be used for education, health and infrastructure.”
Mr Azeem noted that there were no specific reasons for the improvement, but he was sure that the country’s response to some corrupt situations could be a factor, pointing out that the data for the index was from 2009 to the second quarter of 2010.
He said action on allegations of corruption and, even determined cases in Europe and the USA for which Ghanaian public officials were implicated, were often stalled.
Mr Azeem said high profile cases, such as the Mabey and Johnson and the Daimler Chrysler, continued to linger in the minds of Ghanaians. “In fact, the world is watching us to see how we will address these cases…Ghana’s Parliament is yet to summon the Attorney General to brief it on these cases, which allegedly brought losses to the country while benefiting some individuals.”
In the Mabey and Johnson case, a number of former ministers and public servants were alleged to have been bribed by the British construction firm in the 1990s. Daimler Chrysler is also said to have bribed some officials for the supply of vehicles.
Mr Azeem also pointed to the alleged grabbing of lands by members of all arms of government and called for transparency not only in the sale of government lands but also in the disposal of all government assets.
The pressure group, Committee for Joint Action (CJA), is asking the government to set up an independent commission of enquiry to investigate the allocation of state lands and government assets to private individuals.
The CJA has accused officials and functionaries of the Kufuor Administration of selfishly grabbing state lands, whiles the Mills government is allocating lands without recourse to the Constitution.
Focusing on Africa, Mr Azeem said since the inception of the CPI no African country had scored 6 or above. He noted that for 2010, Africa’s best performer, Botswana, scored 5.8 and was ranked 33 globally, while Mauritius the second best performer scored 5.4 with a rank of 39 globally.
Cape Verde and Seychelles scored 5.1 and 4.8 respectively, an improvement on their 2009 scores. However, South Africa and Namibia with scores of 4.5 and 4.4 respectively scored lower this year than last year.
Mr Azeem said Nigeria also performed worse than it did in the last two years scoring 2.4 in 2010 as against 2.7 and 2.5 in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Globally Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tied for first place with scores of 9.3, Mr Azeem said, and noted that those countries had always dominated the top for the past four years, while Finland, Sweden, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland and Norway followed in that order.
He called on governments all over the world, especially in Africa, to integrate anti-corruption measures in all spheres and noted that inaction against corrupt practices was a threat to the fight against the canker.
Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, Board Chairman of GII, urged the media to go beyond reporting events to investigating issues and bring them out to public notice.
She said anybody who experienced corrupt practice could report to the offices of GII for free legal advice and further action to be taken.