Nothing undermines investment promotion than corruption, Sir Sam Jonah, the Chief Executive Officer of Jonah Capital, has said.
“Corruption is corrosive and adds to the cost of business,” Sir Jonah said in his keynote address at the opening of the 69th Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC) on Monday at the University of Ghana (UG), Accra.
The ANYSC, which is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the University, is on the theme: “Job Creation for Accelerated National Development: The Role of the Private Sector”.
The week-long event, which was officially opened by Vice President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, is under the auspices of Komos Energy, Vodafone Ghana, Goil, Voltic, Daily Graphic, Prudential Bank and the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), UG.
Sir Jonah noted that to discourage investors from corrupt practices, the United Kingdom Bribery Act and the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act had placed serious and onerous responsibility on investors.
He said: “Evidence of corruption by investors or their agents attracts unlimited fines and imprisonment. Clearly, in this day and age, no credible investor will be willing to choose to investment in a country of widespread corruption”.
Sir Jonah emphasised that this issue was beyond the presence of anti-corruption laws and institutions; adding that as one observer noted with respect to Africa; “The issue of corruption is not the absence of laws but the certainty of punishment.”
Sir Jonah, who is also the Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, said in 2017 Ghana dropped one place on the Mo Ibrahim index of African Governance to eighth out of 54 countries; stating that although that position was not comparatively bad, the judgement call that “the country showed signs of deteriorating governance over the past five years must be a cause for concern”.
He said indeed, investors make reference to publications such as the Corruption Perception Index for guidance when making decisions.
He noted that the 2016 Index ranks Ghana 70th out of 176 countries, dropping four points from 47 to 43, the country’s lowest since 2012.
Sir Jonah said in this regard, recent allegations of corruption in the Legislature and the Judiciary were most unhelpful.
“The presence of a fair, efficient, reliable independent judicial system is absolutely critical. Every investor wants the assurance that in the event of disputes over contracts, they would have a fair hearing, and justice expeditiously administered,” he said.
“Our justice system is fraught with unending litigation, legal gymnastics, avoidable cost and red tapes,” Sir Jonah said.
He noted that land played a crucial role in all investments; adding that; “Our land administration system has been in a state of confusion for years. It is one of the agencies that still defies the digital age.”
“I am told that at least three World Bank–funded efforts to modernise and digitise land records and administration have made little impact to date,” he said.
Sir Jonah said macro-economic stability was a most desirable factor for investment decision making; adding; “Investors need to be able to model the present and future values of their investment with some degree of confidence and predictability”.
He said for the peace and stability of the nation, jobs had to be created, and this required capital.
Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Ghana, said job creation remained central to the country’s sustainable development and at the same time a growing concern to our shared prosperity.
He said despite considerable efforts by successive governments to create jobs in the last two decades, unemployment, particularly among graduates, remained very high.
Prof Michael Ayitey Tagoe, the Acting Provost, College of Education and Dean of School of Continuing and Distance Education, UG, said the emphasis on job creation and national development stemmed from the fact that in the last one year, the Government’s effort had focused on job creation and how to address unemployment in the country.