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Corruption should never be accepted as “normal” – Pat Alsup

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AlsupDecember 9, 2013 marked the 10th Anniversary of the World Anti-Corruption Day which was created in 2003.

It is Day all countries use to reflect and explore ways to fight the costly, development-stifling, innovation-crushing, investment-killing scourge of corruption.

To mark the opening for signature of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the US Embassy in Ghana last week held an anti-corruption panel to discuss the effects of the menace on the society. It was also to ponder how to spur governance that is more effective, efficient and transparent.

Speaking ahead of the panel, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, Ms C. Pat Alsup, said corruption inflicts substantial costs upon the economy, society, security, and saps confidence in rule of law.

According to the African Development Bank, every year $1 trillion are paid in bribes in the world while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5% of the global GDP.

Ms Alsup stated that no country is immune from individual government representatives who yield to temptation.  She was quick to add that “But corruption should never be accepted as “normal,” as “that’s just the way it is”.”

The US diplomat indicated that there are it is necessary to work together to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, build capacity in law enforcement divisions, and tighten inefficiencies in order to provide less leeway to potential bad actors.

The US leads by example internationally, with robust domestic prevention and enforcement efforts, strong international implementation, and significant support for capacity building.  And Alsup said “I’m proud that in Ghana we find ways to share our lessons learned and discuss best practices with our Ghanaian counterparts.”

In US’ experience, Alsup noted that the best deterrent is a “strong system of checks and balances”.

She adds that corruption must be addressed by governments, civil society, and the private sector as well as the media, through both top-down and bottom-up efforts.

With a score of 46 out of 100, Ghana’s position improved on the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released December 3, 2013.

Ghana placed 63rd, up from the 64th it ranked in the 2012 edition. The country was 69th in the 2011 edition.

The Index put together by anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), ranked Ghana among 177 countries in the 2013 edition compared to 174 in 2012.

The surveys and assessments used to compile the Index include questions relating to the bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public-sector anti-corruption efforts.

By Ekow Quandzie

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