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General News of Thursday, 17 August 2017

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Asset Declaration: A-G promises to publish names of ministers 'within two months'

The Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo has promised to publish names of ministers who have complied with the law to declare their assets.

"I have actually directed the unit to produce a report…so that we make it known to the public. I think that within a month or two, maximum two months we will come out with the report," he told Joy News Raymond Acquah.

But he warned the publication may prove underwhelming to the public.

This is because, the law, Declaration Of Assets And Disqualification Act 550 only allows the A-G to publish the names but not the content of the declaration.

Section 3 of the Declaration of Assets and Disqualification Act, 1998 (Act 550) states, "It shall be the responsibility of the officers required to make the declaration under this Act to obtain the forms from the office of the Auditor-General."

The act mandates that the declaration shall be made by public office holders before they take office, at the end of every four years and at the end of their term of office.

Not even the Auditor-General can even open the envelope containing the filled form of the public officer who has listed the assets.

"It can even be newspapers that you put inside, I won't know what is inside. And you call it disclosure? What is the meaning of disclosure in Ghana? This is to conceal assets. This is not to disclose assets," he ridiculed the law as a big joke.

Others like the former CHRAJ boss have also questioned the objective of the asset declaration law when there is no way of officially knowing the assets of the politician.

The Auditor-General praised efforts to change this law with another, which will empower his office to publish not only names but also publish the assets and verify the authenticity of the assets declared.

"Fortunately, there is the new bill. It is with the Attorney-General…I think that will bring about asset disclosure", Mr. Domelevo said on Joy News program Upfront.

He said the public will be able to challenge the authenticity of the declaration. "People in the community can say that no, we know of more. There are some others which are not here."

As inadequate as the current law is, the Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo nonetheless confirmed, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo and Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, have declared their assets.

Akufo-Addo on January 27, 2017, instructed his ministers to comply with the law within two weeks.

More than seven months after the directive, the Auditor-General says he will soon publish the list of compliant public officer holders. He could not tell how many ministers have complied so far but expects to do so not later than two months.

A coalition of civil society groups has also challenged the president to do more than filing his assets at the Auditor-General's Department. At a meeting with the President, August 16, 2017, the coalition asked, the president makes public, the content of assets so declared.

They maintained while the law does not require him to do so, it will still send strong signals of his commitment to fighting corruption if he goes one step further than the law.