Assets declaration is an anti-corruption tool – GACC

Mrs Beauty Emefa Narteh

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has asserted that asset declaration is an anti-corruption tool that seeks to take inventory of the assets and liabilities of public officeholders before they take office, periodically, and after they have left office.

“The objective is to deter such officials from using the power and privilege of their office to enrich themselves illicitly as they would have to explain the source(s) of wealth acquired in office.

“To effectively implement asset declaration in Ghana and achieve the objective of asset declaration as an anti-corruption tool, it is important that the legal regime in Ghana on asset declaration be amended to demand verification, monitoring, publication and explicit sanctioning,” Mrs. Beauty Emefa Narteh GACC Executive Director has stated.

Mrs. Narteh stated at a symposium to mark International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) celebrations in Ghana organized by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

Speaking on the theme: “Curbing Corruption in Ghana through a Robust Conduct of Public Officers Law: Perspectives of Civil Society,” Mrs Narteh explained that “A public officer who submits a declaration to the Auditor-General shall provide any clarification requested by the Auditor-General in writing”.

However, verification is intended to be a review of all declarations to ensure that they are accurate in terms of veracity, she said stressing that “this is an anti-corruption mechanism to counter false declaration of assets and liabilities.

She said there might be over-declarations in anticipation of acquiring certain property in the future and to ensure that future declarations do not raise suspicions since these items were previously disclosed even when the public officer did not own them.

The GACC Executive Director explained that there is under-declaration to hide assets and liabilities, in either case, only a full-blown verification programme would help us to detect illicit wealth.

“Verification will enable us to ascertain the authenticity of the declaration, the completeness of the declaration, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies of the declaration.

“We recognize the logistic challenge presented by a full verification programme. However, I wish to ask you – which is cheaper? A verification programme or corruption? She said.

Stressing on the theme Mrs. Narteh said Chapter 24 of Ghana’s Constitution covers the Conduct of Public Officers, adding that the chapter, therefore, appears to offer measures to prevent abuse of public positions of trust.

She said there were attempts to expand the measures identified in Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution birthed: Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act,1998 (Act 550), and Conduct of Public Officer’s Bill.

Mrs. Narteh said current discussions on the Conduct of Public Officers Law tend to revolve around 4 issues: Declaration of Assets and Liabilities, Sexual Harassment, Solicitation and Acceptance of Gifts, and Conflict of Interest.

The forum was attended by Human Rights Institutions and other stakeholders and was championed by CHRAJ.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to “Equality” and article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

Equality is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and with the UN approach set out in the document Shared Framework on Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development.

This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in our societies.

Equality, inclusion, and non-discrimination, in other words, a human rights-based approach to development, is the best way to reduce inequalities and resume our path toward realizing the 2030 Agenda.

Source: GNA

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