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Opinions of Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Columnist: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Avoid blame game to unite against official fraud

Political parties the world over do struggle for power on the back of their manifestoes, to run the affairs of nations. However, it is clear that nothing gets done without the roles played by public and civil servants. These people are career workers, majority of who are neither elected nor given terms to serve in office as politicians, but work till they retire. Indeed they are the ‘movers and shakers’ of events in governments.

Unfortunately, since independence in 1957, some of these men and women have been found to wreak havoc to the nation by ‘dipping their hands’ in the coffers of the nation leaving a gaping hole in the economy.

According to the Auditor’s Generals Report, our latest experience has shown that the nation has been ripped off through the machinations of some public officials to the tune of GHc2bn last year. This state of affairs is not peculiar to this government. It is only being mentioned because of the huge amount involved.

The Auditors report for 2011 reveals that many ministries and departments have been mentioned in connection with embezzlement and other crimes against the state. The president has ordered the Attorney General to take action on the matters while some people feel the report has to be referred first to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament. Whatever the case, the people involved must be dealt with in accordance with the law to serve as deterrent to others.

A few of the methods used by those public officials are the creation of ghost names, forgery of signatures and the inflation of contract values. Through these, they managed to siphon away huge amounts of money from the Accountant Generals Department and some government accounts in banks as happened in the Bawku Municipal Assembly and Agona East Ghana Education Service, Ghana Youth Employment and Development Agency GYEEDA and other government bodies.

In addition to this, the government is making efforts to retrieve illegally paid judgment debts to various foreign and local companies.

At the same time, the Government owes banks huge sums of money and contractors who have executed lots of road and building contracts. This has resulted in social problems on the contractors, resulting from debts with huge interests they owe to banks. They are unable to pay their workers and they also owe huge amounts of taxes and social security deductions are in areas.

To find solutions to these problems, the government has gone in for 1bn Eurobond to pay contractors and finance infrastructural development. While waiting for the Eurobond, the government is said to have suspended award of new contracts.

While the nation is suffering from this predicament, various personalities including political actors are divided over the causes of the financial problems and how to find solutions to them.

The Executive Director of Center for Freedom and Accuracy, Mr. Andrew Awuni, in an interview with Daily Graphic has blamed the government for being slow in dealing with economic problems related to criminal activities in the public sector. Government officials think otherwise, saying they would do all in their power to right all wrongs done to the economy.

What seems to be the best solution to the problem is for all well meaning Ghanaians including government and the opposition to come together to help in dealing with the common causes of the financial malfeasance afflicting the nation.

Even though the NDC is in government, issues regarding the economy are of concern to us all. A cursory study shows that the public servants are able to carry out their nefarious activities when the politicians are fighting each other and are busy jostling for power and accusing each other for being the cause of the countries woes.

It is required that all the politicians and opinion leaders endeavor to express their views on the issues involved. In doing so, they must do away with the ‘blame game’ and claim to perfection and strong attachment to ideologies.

The government must also accept suggestions genuinely meant to suggest solutions to problems, whether they are coming from members of the opposition New Patriotic Party or any other political party or opinion leader.

The opposition on their part should continue to give genuine suggestions without ascribing ill motives and verbal attacks.

The government offices must be manned by only qualified, honest and God fearing persons to plug the loopholes through which funds are stolen. Party affiliation of such officials should not be a pre-requisite for engaging employees in ministries and government departments.

All those to be employed in ministries and departments must follow the laid down rules governing their outfits. They ought to bear in mind that, whatever they do could be detected one day. Most of them are Christians and Muslims whose religions abhor corrupt malpractices. All employees must be conscious of that.

Because we are one nation, one people, with a common destiny; the entire nation, including government, opposition and opinion leaders, must do well to agree with a common development agenda under the national development plan. Already, an experiment is underway in parliament with the work of oversight committees of various ministries with members from all political parties. We should expand this to take away the ‘winner takes all syndrome’.

Wherever workers find themselves, they must have a set of rules acceptable to all to be implemented at all levels of governance.

From Ghana’s inception, succeeding governments have introduced their own development plans. However, because of lack of transparency, we are unable to have information needed to be able to track down on wrong doers early enough. There is, therefore, the need for us to pass the Right to Information Bill into law after it has been amended with the right provisions.

Executive director

Eanfoworld for sustainable development.

P.O BOX 17070AN

abdulai.alhasan@gmail.com / eanfoworld@yahoo.com