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General News of Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Source: ghananewsagency.org

Resource Office of the Special Prosecutor - Azeem

Mr Vitus Azeem, an anti-corruption activist, on Tuesday called on the Government to resource anti-corruption institutions; such as the newly established Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), to effectively combat corruption in the country.

He noted that institutions mandated to fight corruption were not receiving enough support to make them research into new ways of preventing corruption; as such, their existence would amount to nothing if they were not properly resourced.

He said the OSP was a special institution, which would carry out an assignment that was not palatable to many people, and lots of efforts would be made to frustrate the Office; hence, requisite resources including offices across the regions and human resource should be provided.

Mr Azeem made this call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sideline of a roundtable on Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Demands of Civil Society Organization (CSOs) to Government.

The roundtable, which was organised by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), discussed Civil Society’s fiscal transparency and accountability demands on the government, the extent of government response and the way forward.

The roundtable was part of a project dubbed “Citizens Action for Public Accountability and Pro-Poor Spending,” which is being implemented by the GACC and the Economic Governance Platform with support from OXFAM in Ghana.

The project aims at creating public awareness on the budget and to mobilize citizens to demand accountability and fairness in the fiscal regime towards addressing inequality.

Mr Azeem said in calling for the resourcing of the OSP, government must as well focus on other anti-corruption agencies, which already exist but have not been properly resourced.

He also reiterated the need to empower the citizenry to help fight corruption by voicing out corrupt acts.

Mr Azeem, who doubles as the Project Consultant, said it was imperative for every citizen to join the campaign against corruption by not only reporting corrupt practices but ensuring that, the culprits were named, shamed and punished.

Mr Franklin Oduro, a member of the GACC Governing Board said there was need for a holistic national effort involving all stakeholders to curb corruption.

He said the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) stated clearly that "we could win the fight against corruption if we collectively fight it".

He noted however that, it was known that there were levels of actions required to achieve the fight against corruption.

He said these included preventive measures, which highlights laws and institutions that makes it difficult for people to involve themselves in corrupt practices; thereby strengthening these laws and institutions and making them more transparent.

Mr Oduro, who is also the Director of Programmes at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), said another factor was, the commitment to punish culprits to serve as a deterrent to others; stating that "but unfortunately we have not done that very well as a country".

He said among the challenges had been the lack of commitment on the part of governments, and particularly leaders in the nation's anti-corruption institutions.

Mr Oduro said the forum would enable the Coalition to reflect on the various Demands that CSOs had made and how to access those that have been successful as well as those still not addressed.

He said one of the lessons learnt was to move a step further to draw some strategies to inform the other areas that were not successful.

Mrs Beauty Emefa Narteh, GACC Executive Secretary, said putting preventive measures in place was essential in the fight against corruption.

She said the institutions mandated to serve as anti-corruption agencies had not been able to perform well due to the challenges they were having such as their human resource capacity and independence.

Madam Elizabeth Abena Nkrumah, Executive Director, Financial Accountability and Transparency (FAT), Africa, also underscored the need for CSOs to make the necessary follow-ups to ensure their demands were addressed.

The roundtable demands discussed include: a call for a more aggressive domestic tax revenue mobilization; and a call for independent bodies to investigate payment practices in Parliament was also articulated.

Others are a call to translate commitments from the United Kingdom Anti -Corruption Summit into real actions and a call for the empowerment of citizens.