CSOs should improve transparency, accountability within their ranks – CDD

Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), on Wednesday asked Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to improve transparency and accountability within their ranks in order to contribute positively to the construction of a robust ethical infrastructure in Ghana.

In addition, they should adhere to the rules of internal democracy and corporate governance in their respective organisations.

“Such values have a better chance of being diffused in the society at large when they are internalised first within CSOs,” he added.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi made the call when contributing to a panel discussion on the topic, “Perspectives on National Integrity System in Ghana since 1998-Progress and Challenges”, at the on-going three-day Second National Conference on Integrity in Accra.

The conference on the theme: “Building a Robust Ethics Infrastructure to Promote Integrity in Ghana”, is being organised by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

It is being attended by participants from governmental and private anti-corruption agencies in Ghana, Malaysia, Botswana and Sierra Leone.

The conference is to consolidate measures and initiatives undertaken to build a strong national integrity system in Ghana, and chart a way forward in establishing a strong national integrity system as a method of reducing opportunities for corruption and rent seeking.

Significant steps towards building a strong integrity system and generally improving the overall governance situation in Ghana began in 1998, when CHRAJ in collaboration with its stakeholders and support from the World Bank organised the First National Integrity Workshop (FNIW) in Accra.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said the legal and constitutional framework as well as the political space for CSOs (including those doing anti-corruption and public accountability work and or seeking to speak truth to power holders and power seekers) must be protected.

“We must by all means put in place an enabling regulatory framework for CSO operations, but it must be one that protects the public interest without being predatory.”

The Executive Director of CDD pointed out that the technical and analytical capacities of civil society and the media must be strengthened to enable them back their anti-corruption and pro-integrity advocacy with evidence.

In addition, the financial independence and security of CSOs must be improved to enable them to resist cooptation by government and other agencies.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi, who is also a professor at Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, Legon, said it might be also helpful to devise constitutional and legal reforms which made it possible for local firms to make tax deductible contributions to local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

He explained that this would help build an indigenous modern philanthropic sector to foster NGO accountability to domestic stakeholders.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi pointed out that CSOs working in the areas of public accountability, integrity and anti-corruption must improve levels of collaboration and strengthen mutual solidarity among themselves and with state and private sector agencies with similar agenda.

He said in addition, they must take advantage of their respective comparative advantages and skills to minimise duplication and unnecessary turf battles.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi called for reforms in administrative procedures and policies, elaborate administrative law, and make administrative rules more comprehensible and transparent through simplification of rules.

There should also be reforms and improved enforcement of the existing public office-holder asset declaration regulations to conform to international best practices that is to make them easy for verifiability and monitoring.

He said there should be reduction and improvement in the regulation of official discretion, reform in corporate governance, particularly in the public, parastatal and civil society sectors.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi called for the promulgation of conflict of interest prevention codes and laws.

“We need something better than Ghana’s public official accountability than Act 179 which criminalises persons for “wilfully causing financial losses to the State. A definition of the crime of corruption that is clear on the harmful consequences of crime but extremely vague on the intention and motive aspects of the crime” he added.

In addition, there should be the promulgation of a credible access to information law, strengthen the whistle-blower protection law, and place legal and constitutional limits on how long the leaders of oversight agencies such as CHRAJ, EOCO, could serve in an “acting” capacity or without confirmation.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi noted that the immediate outcomes of First National Integrity Workshop (FNIW) included in 1998 the stimulation of widespread public interest in issues of anti-corruption and national integrity.

The formation of Ghana Chapter of Transparency International (TI) – the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) as a civil society body solely dedicated to the control of corruption.

Others are Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), inspired by the multi-stakeholder, State and non-State civil society collaboration approach that had helped to secure the relative success of the FNIW.

Source: GNA

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