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General News of Wednesday, 8 January 2003

Source: GNA

PNC Deplores High Spate Of Corruption

The People's National Convention (PNC) on Wednesday decried the high incidence of corruption in the country despite the government's slogan of "zero tolerance for corruption".

It also claimed that the two-year-old government had not addressed other pertinent issues confronting the nation. Dr Edward Mahama, leader of the party, was speaking at a news conference in Accra on "The State of the Nation at the start of 2003" under the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

In a highly critical statement of the government, he claimed that corruption had become a way of life in the country and it had become impossible to do anything without bribing for employment, transfer of public servants, promotions, contracts, enjoyment of public services and every step in processing official documents for payment for work done.

Dr Mahama urged the government to reverse the situation before the end of its tenure of office. Dr Edward Mahama said the courts were choked by private suits and criminal cases and access to justice was rife with corruption and was slow, adding that many unresolved cases had been on the books for decades, including prisoners who have been on remand for several years.

He said government's declaration of "Golden Age of Business" was a mere slogan. "It is rather under the NPP's Golden Age of Business that many firms are speedily collapsing due to lack of clear government support and effective credit facilities from the banking sector."

Dr Mahama said it was his party's view that the NPP would not be able to solve the problems of the country since there were crises everywhere.

These include the deepening crisis in education, health institutions and the deplorable state of sanitation in the major cities. He said children in most rural educational institutions were the forgotten second-class citizens still sitting under trees to have classes describing them as "tragedies of the future".

He commended government in equipping the security system particularly the police but said more still needed to be done since there were always reports of armed robberies and other related crimes.

Dr Mahama said due to poor negotiating abilities, the NPP Administration had honoured the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) conditions for assistance in 2003, which would not help the nation in anyway.

He said despite the hard economic situation of the country, government was still ready to increase petroleum prices and the Value Added Tax (VAT). He said payments of extra-duty and other allowances were frozen unless approved by IMF adding that there were "Fast Track" privatization of the Cocoa Purchasing Company (CPC) and Ghana Consolidated Diamonds (GCD).

He called for the curtailing of indiscipline in government spending. Other ranking members of the party including Mr Gabriel Pwamang, General Secretary and Mr David Apasara, PNC Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga, attended the press conference.