Ms Lauretta Vivian Lamptey, the Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), on Monday said corruption stifles economic growth and diverts desperately needed funds for education, healthcare and other public services for other less important uses.
She said though corruption was a global phenomenon which did not spare any country, whether developed or underdeveloped, the evidence showed that it harmed poor people than anyone else.
The Commissioner made this known when presenting the State of Corruption Report at the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the International Anti-Corruption Day, which was on the theme: “Zero Corruption- 100 per cent Development” in Accra.
Ms Lamptey said an estimated one trillion US dollars got siphoned off through bribes every year according to the World Bank, “corruption, therefore is a barrier to development, which we must eradicate if we want to sustain development”.
She noted that, cognizant of the negative effects of corruption on development, Ghana had continued to take measures to combat corruption and reduced its effects on the development of the nation.
She added that some of the measures included strengthening the legal measure and institutional framework, investigating and prosecuting corruption, as well as undertaking preventive and community education and awareness programmes.
The Commissioner said in addition to existing legislation, they passed the Mutual Legal Assistance Act, the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, 2011 (LI1987), Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2012 (Act 842) and Anti-Terrorism Regulations, 2012 (L.I 2181).
She noted that bills which were also pending either before Parliament or Cabinet included the Right to Information Bill, the Whistle blower (Amendment) Bill, the Witness Protection Bill, the Public Officers Conduct Bill, the Extradition Bill, and the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill.
She stressed that, relevant agencies enforced the anti-corruption legislation to the best of their ability in the period through investigations and prosecution, adding, about 202 persons were serving various sentences in prison for corruption, namely fraud, extortion, trading in influence, bribery and obstruction of justice in July this year.
She added that 336 were awaiting trial in the same period for corruption offences, and the Economic and Organised Crime (EOCO) was able to freeze suspected illicit assets in over 46 cases.
Ms Lamptey explained that more than 30 people had been interrogated by the EOCO since September this year in relation to the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) case.
She added that those being investigated included two Ministers of State, a former Minister of State, a Member of Parliament and 23 officials of GYEEDA, “other officials from five service providers under the various models of the programme and several other public officials, including the Secretary to Ministerial Committee on GYEEDA were assisting the EOCO with their investigation”.
“The Financial Intelligence Centre, which is empowered to request for and receive suspicious transaction reports from accountable institutions, supervisory bodies and revenue agencies, has over the last three years recovered to the state over two million and eight hundred dollars of laundered money. The centre has also worked on over 700 suspicious transaction reports in the period.” She said.
The Commissioner said from 2012 to date, CHRAJ had processed over 85 complaints of abuse of office, 26 in relation to misappropriation or embezzlement, conflict of interest 8, bribery 7 and extortion 8, adding that, other breaches of code of conduct for public officers were 2.
She urged Ghanaians to play respective roles in fighting corruption, “resisting bribes, saying NO to gift of hamper from a prohibited source, providing honest service to the public without expecting a ‘thank you’ in monetary terms, and reporting corruption to the appropriate agencies, are the least that good citizens must do to help fight corruption”.
Ms Lamptey said government must invest sufficiently in the fight against corruption if Ghana must win the war against corruption.
The Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong said corruption, whether official or non official destroyed or killed people, adding that Ghana must fight against it now.
She said corruption happened everywhere not only the government or politicians or the media are involved in corruption, so Ghanaians must join hands to fight against it.