Retain law on causing financial loss to state – Prof. Attafuah

law-and-justiceA private legal practitioner, Prof Ken Agyeman Attafuah, has called for the retention of the law on causing financial loss to the state because it is one of the important laws that are helping the fight against corruption in the country.

He said it was strange that the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Report recommended the repeal of that law.

Making a presentation last Sunday at a two-day workshop on the “Review of the final report of the Constitutional Review Commission and the Government White Paper” held at Elmina in the Central Region, Prof Attafuah said the law on causing financial loss to the state was a good check on the broad concept of corruption in Ghana.

Organised under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the workshop was attended by members of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation.

It was sponsored by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and aimed at deepening the understanding of Members of Parliament (MPs) on the CRC Report and the Government White Paper in order to enrich debate in Parliament during deliberations on the review of the Constitution.

Prof Attafuah’s presentation focused on the CRC Report and the Government White Paper on the Directive Principles of State Policy.

He expressed reservations over the recommendation to fix the minimum age at which one could contest the Presidency at 40, describing it as “a little backward looking”.

He said it was inherently discriminatory to allow people to vote at age 18 but not allow them to contest the Presidency at that age.

That submission drew the Majority Leader, Mr Cletus Avoka, to the floor during discussion time, during which he mounted a strong defence for the pegging of the minimum age to contest the Presidency at 40.

Brandishing his credential as a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1992 Constitution, Mr Avoka said every provision of the Constitution had a justification.

He said there were many people in Ghana who were 30 years and were still dependent on their parents.

He said even when the minimum age was pegged at 40, there were as many as eight presidential candidates in the 2012 elections and so if the minimum age was reduced, there might be 20, 30 or even 100 presidential candidates contesting future presidential elections.

That, he noted, would give serious problems to the Electoral Commission (EC), apart from the financial implications involved.

Mr Avoka, who is also the MP for Zebilla, said the pegging of the minimum age for contesting the Presidency at 40 was based on genuine social, economic and cultural exigencies, adding that there was no need to liberalise the law to open the floodgates to all.

Despite the Majority Leader’s submissions, Prof Attafuah maintained his position, citing many leaders across the world, including Ghana’s foremost President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who became President at an age below 40.

He said the nature of a constitution was forward looking but in the case of Ghana’s constitutional provision on the minimum age to contest the Presidency, “it sounds a little bit to me like a conspiracy of the aged against the youth”.

Moving to another area of concern, Prof Attafuah said the Constitution required the President to deliver a state of the nation address to Parliament at least once a year, meaning the President could do so more than once.

He, however, expressed disappointment at the fact that all past Presidents had not given that provision serious thought and only settled for the minimum requirement of delivering a state of the nation address to Parliament only once in a year.

Prof Attafuah frowned on the practice of Council of State members “running errands” for the President, pointing out that “if someone is your adviser, you do not send him”.

He said although the Directive Principles of State Policy, as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, required successive governments to continue development projects initiated by their predecessors, it was unfortunate that past governments had not complied with that constitutional provision.

He expressed concern over the politicisation of every facet of national life, such that even statistical figures produced by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) were politicised.

Source: Daily Graphic

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