Blame Parliament for corruption in Ghana – Professor Ayittey
Professor George Ayittey, a visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs has blamed parliament for condoning to corrupt practices among public officials.
“Parliament is the culprit; it is not doing what it is supposed to do, guarding the public purse and demanding the prosecution of the corrupt officials,” he said.
According to him, the public sector was riddled with overspending, wasteful practices, willful extravagance with public funds and financial irregularities.
Prof. Ayittey, who is also a retired professor of economics at American University made the criticism at a press briefing on Thursday, anchored by the theme: “The State of the Ghanaian Economy: Proposals to Reverse the Downward Trend.”
He said the fight against corruption hinged on aggressive attorney-general to prosecute corrupt officials, an independent judiciary to pass fair judgments and strong parliament to carryout oversight responsibility.
However, “our institutions are weak and dysfunctional while Parliament is rubber-stamped; it has been made subservient to the executive and few Ghanaians have little confidence in our judiciary and electoral systems,” he added.
The retired professor said the nation was confronted with numerous structural deficit problems and scourge of corruption, putting the country in a total economic mess.
According to the professor many Ghanaians were unhappy and very angry with the trends and reports of the state of the economy.
He said Ghana has been ranked the third most corrupt nation by Gallup, while growth rate is slowing down; adding, “Over 14 per cent rate of growth chalked up in 2011 is now down to a little over seven per cent.”
Professor Ayittey said debt levels were unsustainably high, saying, total debts had hit over 49 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), “the 2013 budget deficit is 12 per cent of GDP, while Fitch, an international credit rating agency, has twice downgraded the country’s bond rating from B+ to B.
He said International Monetary Fund has warned that Ghana was approaching a highly indebted poor country status, while foreign donors have also cut budgetary support for Ghana.
He added, “the government is broke, it has no savings to finance capital expenditures and the people are suffering severe economic hardships and are losing confidence in the ability of the government and its institutions to resolve the looming crises.”
He said there were too many ministries and government agencies which meant overlapping jurisdiction and functions and soaring government expenditures.
In 1997, there were 88 cabinet and regional ministers plus their deputy ministers and in 2004 the number had reached 92 but with a population of 25 million it has shot up to 97. The United State with a population of 300 million has 40 secretaries and assistant secretaries.
But Professor Ayittey said the “explosion in government bureaucracy” was due to the tendency to create parallel institutions when existing ones failed to work.
He said the multitude of parallel institutions and “bloated bureaucracy” had created government workfare of over 700,000 workers and a wage bill that consumes 70 per cent of the budget.
He called on government to fix problems in the existing institutions and cut down the number of ministers and deputy minister into half as well as put an end to the perks and privileges given to ministers.
Government should also do away with ministers of state at the presidency, reform the Council of State and other parallel institutions such as Fast Track Court, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and National Centre for Complaint.