Audit Service chases public officials to declare assets

The Ghana Audit Service is chasing public institutions to identify those eligible to declare their assets and liabilities to ensure they do the needful.

The Service would prepare a list of those who fail to comply after three months and submit to the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice and then the Chief Justice for sanctions.

A circular has gone out to that effect to alert the officers whose monthly basic earnings are equivalent to that of the Director of the Civil Service and others.

Mr Bernard Conduah, the Assistant Public Relations Officer (PRO), Audit Service, said this in Accra on Wednesday at a media sensitisation programme on; “Mobilising Support for an Effective Asset Declaration Regime in Ghana”.

It was organised by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) with support from Strengthening Action Against Corruption-Ghana (STAAC).

Mr Conduah explained that those who wanted to occupy public office, public office holders, or those performing specific functions for various public institutions are required to declare their assets before assuming office.

Personnel of the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Civil Service, and Ghana Revenue Authority are all eligible.

Accountants, procurement officers, planning officers, budget officers, and internal auditors are all part due to their roles that interface with funds and service provision.

However, Mr Conduah said the Military was not part of public officers to declare their assets unless they were seconded to a civil position.

The PRO enumerated certain assets and liabilities that had to be declared to include cars, houses, farms, lands, bank balances, bank loans, overdrafts, and jewellery.He said a form could be picked from the district, regional and head offices of the Audit Service, filled and returned for receipt after it had been certified.

Mr Conduah hinted that by the close of the year, the system would migrate to electronic platform for those who qualified to declare their assets to sign-on at their comfort, adding that it was also becoming cumbersome to keep the papers of the 60,000 people eligible to declare their assets.

The online platform, he said, would ease the budgetary cost on the forms and add more features for detailed information as well as promote government’s digitisation agenda.

Mr Bright Sowu, the Head of Programmes, GACC, said in public office, opportunities, whether legitimate or illegitimate, may arise and thus public officers must avoid abusing their powers to amass wealth as they were supposed to take decisions in the interest of the citizenry.

He said the Asset Declaration system was a way to prevent officials from hiding any ill-gotten money.

Mr Sowu said though Act 286 of the 1992 Constitution enjoined a public officer to declare his or her assets, the sanction was not clearly specified, making it not deterrent enough.

He said the sensitisation programme was one of a series, which was relevant to creating awareness on asset declaration through the media and gather support to push the agenda for the authorities to tackle.

Mr Bernard Obeng-Opare, the Senior Auditor with the Legal Department of the Service, said the electronic system would link the electronic payment systems such as the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to ensure transparency where people could account for what they had.

He gave the assurance that the Service would protect any data provided.

Source: GNA

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