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Public servants are barred from taking gifts – Chief State Attorney

Government is determined to fight corruption in the public sector with stringent policies and measures to prevent public officials from receiving or soliciting gifts from service providers.

This has become necessary as the current administration, led by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had promised to protect the country’s public purse and reduce corruption.

A policy dubbed: “Ghana Gift Policy (GGP)” under the National Anti-corruption Action Plan (NACAP) would make it compulsory for public office holders and public servants to hand over gifts received to their heads of institutions to take final decisions on the disposal of the gift.

Mr Sampong Asiama, Chief State Attorney at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice (OAGMoJ) made this know at a sensitisation workshop for public servants on the NACAP, organised by the Attorney-General’s Office in Accra.

He said gifts received by public officials have the potential of influencing them to engage in corrupt practices.

Mr Asiama said the GGP, under the NACAP, requires public servants to sign and make gift statements every quarter and hand them over to their heads, whilst heads of institutions are to forward them to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

He said the new arrangement allows public servants to declare gifts accepted or declined by a client, adding that, people sometimes force public servants to take gifts from them, but if you decline and they insist you must report them.

“When you accept a gift you have to show it to the ethics officer in your institution, fill a form and give the gift to the head of the institution who will decide on how to dispose of it”.

Mr Asiamah said perishable items received as gifts under the policy are to be donated to an orphanage while non-perishable items are to go back to the giver.

He said the gift form required public servants to provide details such as names, particulars of the donor, description of the gift, reason for the gift and ‘state whether it was accepted or rejected.

Mr Charles Ayamdoo, the Director of the Anti-Corruption Unit at CHRAJ, said the NACAP was aimed at controlling and reducing corruption, and that, it was in line with Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution and would provide a conducive environment for people to report corruption without fear or favour.

He said the document which was developed in 2011 and adopted on July 3, 2014 is being implemented by the Attorney General’s Office.

He said: “all public institution are to set up offices for the implementation of NACAP and would have designated officers, known as ethics officers, who will spearhead the anti-corruption activities”.

“They are also to act expeditiously on reports of corruption and misconduct as well as develop and display sexual harassment policies at the work places”.

Mr Ayamdoo said, to bring corruption under control, “all public officers are barred from dealing with matters that were linked to the office they held two years after retirement.”

“The period, described as “cooling off or sanitation period”, Mr Ayamdoo said was to ensure that all public officials who left public office ‘do not use their previous positions they held as a public official to their advantage or control the use of information they have access to while in the office.

Source: GNA

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