Ghanaians have high tolerance for corruption – Bagbin
This attitude of the citizenry towards corruption, he said, was part of the reason why it had become difficult to fully fight to eliminate or reduce corruption to the barest minimum to propel the country’s development agenda.
Mr. Bagbin made the observation on Thursday while delivering a Lecture on the theme: “Corruption and National Development” organised by the Faculty of Integrated Development Studies (FIDS) of the University for Development Studies (UDS), Wa Campus.
Mr. Bagbin who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Nadowli-Kaleo, said the continued focus on political corruption was one of the reasons why the country could not fight corruption the way it ought to fight to reduce or eliminate it.
“We cannot fight corruption if citizens continue to think that corruption is only among some class of people and not among everybody”, he said.
Mr. Bagbin said corrupt practices according to the recently approved and adopted National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) included bribery, embezzlement, misappropriation, trading in influence, abuse of office, abuse of power, illicit enrichment, laundering of proceeds of crime, concealment, obstruction of justice, patronage, nepotism and conflict of interest.
He mentioned lack of ill-defined code of conduct, ethics, laws, rules and regulations; poor enforcement of laws, rules and regulations; wide and high discretionary powers bestowed on individuals; bad governance and absence of integrity as some of the causes of corruption in the country.
Others, he said, are self discipline and the culture of untruth, leading to poor ethical standards; poverty; weak institutions as well as the politicization of corruption and the corruption of politics.
Touching on the effects of corruption on national Development, the Majority Leader said for Ghana, corruption continued to exert a heavy toll on the economy, society and politics, thereby retarding development.
Mr. Bagbin suggested public sector reforms, strengthening key anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies, public awareness and education, prevention of corruption, improvement in investigation and prosecution, creating an enabling environment, involvement of stakeholders and monitoring and evaluation as the way forward in curbing corruption in the country.
He said global, continental and national efforts had yielded an acceptable consensus as to what corruption is or is not and that the strongest message emerging from all the long diagnostic studies and clinical observation and experiences was that pervasive and systematic corruption could be curbed only through a broad-based campaign involving all sectors of the society.
“A successful campaign requires a clear and unambiguous, strong and sustained political will of the country’s leaders to create an atmosphere in which wrong-doing was not tolerated,” he said.
The majority leader noted that effective use of the law was crucial for defining acceptable and unacceptable practices, as well as for setting out the penalties for wrongdoers.
“However, reliance on the law and its enforcement cannot be the only answer, for the simple reason that law only comes into force when a crime is detected”, he said.
Mr. Bagbin said a successful campaign must include measures aimed at its roots and that this included the reform of laws, regulations and procedures and because of their poor design, afforded public servants opportunities or temptation for corruption.
It included public education as well, because an informed and angry public can be a vital tool in combating corruption, especially once people were aware of its cost to society and its impact on public welfare, the MP pointed out.
The Majority Leader also said public sector reform is equally critical and that Ghana like other countries must re-instill within public officials a sense of service to their country and its people.
“This can come, in part, by providing descent wages for public sector work and by replacing patronage and cronyism with a merit based reward system”, Mr. Bagbin explained.
“If we fail to take these measures, our NACAP will remain a paper tiger”, the Majority Leader in Parliament concluded.