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General News of Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Public servants can’t take gifts - Chief State Attorney

As part of measures to fight corruption in the public sector, stringent policies have been put in place by the government to prevent public servants from soliciting or receiving gifts before providing services.

One such policy is the Ghana Gift Policy under the National Anti Corruption Action Plan (NACAP).

The Ghana Gift Policy makes it compulsory for public office holders and public servants to hand over gifts received to their heads of institutions.

The heads of institutions will take the final decision on the disposal of the gift.

This came to light during a sensitisation workshop on the national anti-corruption action plan organised by the Attorney-General's Office in Accra for public servants.

Taking the participants through the Ghana Gift Policy, the Chief State Attorney at the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice (OAGMoJ), Mr Asiama Sampong, said "public servants are not supposed to take gifts."

Negative influence

When public servants receive gifts, such offers, he explained, had the potential of influencing them to engage in corrupt practices.

Mr Asiama said public servants were also required to sign and make a gift statement every quarter under the Ghana Gift Policy.

Copies of the gift statement which were made available to the participants are to be signed and handed over to their heads of institutions who will forward them to the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

Under the new arrangement, he stated, public servants were to declare whether they accepted or declined a gift which was offered by a client.

"Sometimes people will force you to take gifts from them. If you decline and they insist you must report them.”

"When you accept a gift you have to show it to the ethics officer in your institution. Fill a form and give the gift to the head of institution who will decide on how to dispose of it," he stressed.

Under the policy, perishable items are to be donated to an orphanage while non-perishable items are to go back to the giver.

Taking the participants through the requirements of the gift policy form, Mr Asiama said the gift form required public servants to provide details such as their names, particulars of the donor, description of the gift, reason for the gift and "state whether you took it or rejected it."

Anti corruption plan

The Director of the Anti-Corruption Unit at the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Charles Ayamdo, said the NACAP, a 10-year document, was aimed at controlling and reducing incidence of corruption.

The NACAP, which is in line with Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution, he said, would provide a conducive environment for people to report corruption without fear or favour.

The document which was developed in 2011 and adopted on July 3, 2014 is being implemented by the Attorney General's Office.

Also, all public institutions are to set up offices for the implementation of NACAP by having designated officers, known as ethics officers, who will spearhead anti-corruption activities.

Public institutions are also to put in place measures that will control absenteeism, lateness, moon-lighting and abuse of office.

They are also to act expeditiously on reports of corruption and misconduct as well as develop and display sexual harassment policies at the work place.

Cooling off

Also to bring corruption under control, Mr Ayamdo said all public officers were barred from dealing with matters that were linked to the office they held two years after retirement.

The period, which is described as ‘cooling off or sanitation period’, Mr Ayamdoo pointed out, was to ensure that all public officials who left public office “do not use the previous position they held as a public official to their advantage or control the use of information they had access to while in office. That, he said, would check the misuse of information and public positions.