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General News of Thursday, 21 February 2008

Source: GNA

Corruption in distribution of premix fuel

Accra, Feb. 21, GNA - Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr., Managing Editor of The Insight Newspaper, on Thursday called on Government to institute a full-scale enquiry into corruption in the distribution of premix fuel and punish those who would be found to be corrupt in its distribution. Reviewing a book, "Premix - An Avenue for Political Corruption, Deceit, Lies and Petty Thievery" in Accra he said since the NPP government had stated categorically that it wanted evidence before investigating issues of corruption, the book was enough evidence to warrant full-scale investigation into the matter.

The 155-page book authored by Papa Kodwo Mbir, former member of the Ministerial Committee on Premix Distribution to Canoe Fishermen, brings to the fore the fraudulent deals in the distribution of the fuel.

Mr Pratt challenged President John Agyekum Kufuor to keep his promise of zero tolerance for corruption using the evidence that the book presents as a test case before he leaves office.

He said the book catalogued a chronological event of the genesis of the premix fuel, specially formulated to power only two-stroke engines such as outboard motors to be used by fishermen, and the fraudulent deals in its sale to the motoring public and the huge profits generated to the disadvantage of fishermen and the Ghanaian tax payer.

The book, he observed, paid glowing tribute to Ghanaian journalists, radio stations and all who stood to be counted in the fight against corruption and deceit perpetrated by the political elite. "What was felt after reading the book was the blatant attempt by the political elite to corrupt the system and siphon state funds which had been (generated) by the sweat and toil of farmers and fisher folks who still live in the stone world using outmoded methods in their fields and who most often do not even have access to medical care when the need arises," he said.

He commended the author for taking the risk to bring to light the corruption in the industry which negatively impacted on the fishermen during the major fishing season because fuel meant to enhance their work is diverted by "crooks" in the industry.

Mr Raymond Archer, Editor of The Enquirer Newspaper, who launched the book, said corruption was a canker, which neutralized a nation's forward march to economic prosperity and had been responsible for the overthrow and instability of several governments in Africa.

"In our own country, Ghana, governments have either been overthrown on the basis of corruption or voted out based on perceptions that they are corrupt.

"Almost every politician who aspires to power publicly acknowledges that corruption has devastating effect on the lives of the people they hope to govern. It is the canker that many politicians say they dislike and pledge to uproot if voted into office. Unfortunately, it is that, which they embrace with their hands, legs, mouths and stomachs when they assume power."

The book, Mr Archer said, was a "must read" for all stakeholders in the fight against corruption and for everyone who yearned to see integrity in public office.

"I salute your courage to fight against what is wrong and the resilience with which you have fought and continue to fight this issue. I did not just understand your frustrations as I read it but I shared them, because I have lived it. I know the prize you have and may pay for wanting to ensure transparency and accountability in the administration of scarce public resources," he told the author.

Papa Mbir expressed the frustration in having the book published and sold but expressed the hope that well-meaning Ghanaians would buy it to make it reach many Ghanaians.

He said he did not write the book because he wanted to fight any particular government but he wanted to fight corruption and help check malpractices within the premix setup which led to the setting up of the Ministerial Committee on Premix by government.

The main function of this Committee was to organize premix distribution properly and thus help check the misuse of the fuel in addition to managing funds derived from the fuel to develop the fishing communities, he said.

Papa Mbir noted that the management structure of this Committee was what crooked politicians and oil magnates sought to destroy to make way for the continuation of their criminal activities and that led to its dissolution.

"As a member of this Committee, I tried to report all negative activities within the premix system which came to my notice to the powers that be, but they turned a deaf ear to my fight in getting the proper thing done," he said.

"This book is therefore an attempt to reveal to the public activities of these groups of people with the hope that better ways are found to manage this fuel which is so important to the nation's economy," Papa Mbir.

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