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Opinions of Saturday, 12 December 2015

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

The Time Has Come To End The Egregious Profligacy Of ...

....The Upper Echelons Of Ghana's Public Sector

By Kofi Thompson

"Frugality is founded on the principle that all riches have limits."
- Edmund Burke.

If only our ruling elites understood that in spending taxpayers' money, they must be frugal at all material times, it would make a huge difference to public finances in Ghana.

The reckless abandon with which so many of those who work in the public sector spend taxpayers' money, is akin to a nation-wrecking-toxin, which the many civil society groups that advocate for a more transparent and accountable system in Ghana, such as #OccupyGhana, ought to try and find an immediate antidote to.

It is disconcerting that in a nation that is strapped for cash - to the extent that our country currently is - and in which millions of families struggle to survive on a daily basis, so many public-sector entities can pay out huge sums as rent advance, for example, to private landlords in Ghana, for office and residential accommodation.

Yet, if those monies actually belonged to those selfsame public officials paying out those outrageous sums as rent advance, they would probably elect to build themselves offices and homes with those funds to increase their personal net worth, instead - rather than use what effectively amount to small fortunes to pay rent advance to private landlords.

Examples of unjustifiable spending abounds in the public sector - yet public officials guilty of making what in effect are disloyal payments seldom face sanctions. The time has come to end that impunity.

And should all private-sector entities that collude with public-sector officials to overcharge public institutions and organisations, not be blacklisted and banned from bidding for government contracts, permanently - and their directors barred for life from being company directors in Ghana?

There are said to be all manner of fraudulent sole-sourcing procurement schemes that enable private-sector suppliers of goods and services, to the public-sector, to collude with public officials to siphon off taxpayers' money into private pockets.

Why, for example, have the board members and managing director, of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), still not been fired for being so careless with the bank's money - and asset-stripping that hapless state-owned entity built with the blood, sweat and tears of ordinary people, on top of their monstrous chicanery, I ask?

What self-respecting institutional investor that is a bank shareholder in the United Kingdom, for example, would tolerate the kind of irresponsible spending, which Ghanaians have been witnessing at the ADB? So why the deafening silence from corporate good governance advocacy organisations in Ghana about the rot at the ADB?

The question we must pose is: When exactly will President Mahama's regime end that pure nonsense on bamboo stilts at the ADB - and at other state-owned enterprises, as well as public institutions and organisations in Ghana, afflicted by a similar malaise?

Ghana's Parliament needs to sit up and take its oversight responsibilities for the nation's public sector much more seriously.

Ordinary Ghanaians are thoroughly fed up with being overburdened with taxes - just so that spendthrift public-sector officials can dissipate tax revenues with impunity.

Enough is enough. The time has now come to end the egregious profligacy of the upper echelons of Ghana's public sector.