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General News of Friday, 10 February 2006

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

President WARNED ....

... his statements would scare away investors
The Transparency International (TI) has cautioned the President of Ghana, J. A. Kufuor, to take corruption perceptions in Ghana seriously, since investors mostly take their decisions based on perceptions.

The TI noted that no investor would be willing to extend its business to a country, which has been perceived to be corrupt or tainted with corruption.

In the TI headquarters in Berlin, the Programme Coordinator of TI, Mr. Stephane Stassen, was reacting to President Kufour?s statements that corruption in Ghana was just a perception and must stay in the heads of Ghanaians, and also that allegations of corruption must be reported to the police.

In an interview with The Chronicle, he affirmed, ?Certainly, his statements would scare away investors. In whichever country, if the investors see the President trying to immunize corruption, they would not be interested in the country.?

He continued, ?This is a public image that the country has, so it is not just some perception we put in our heads and then put aside.?

He said such statements could have effects on the ranking of Ghana in the next Corruption Perception Index, since TI?s reports were public opinion survey that assessed the general public?s perception and experience of corruption in a country.

?It is not TI that says so.

What TI is doing is collating the opinions of people around the world, who usually influence investment or economic decision-taking,? he emphasized.

Mr. Stassen said on the other hand, most people are particularly interested in private sector business, and what they expected was for governments to take action against people found to be corrupt.

?A lot of people look at Nigeria, for example, and say there is high level corruption, and indeed we have the Nigerian Chief of Police lose his job because of accusations of corruption - that is a tendency that influences international opinions,? he re-emphasized.

He anticipated optimism in the fight against corruption in Africa, adding that a look at Nigeria reveals a lot of optimism regarding years to come. He also stressed that the opinions of the public are formed by what they see and hear about a specific country.

Mr. Stassen indicated that TI is currently holding a workshop for the judiciary in Ghana to debate and identify how to improve their system, after they had been accused of being corrupt.

He said though the various conventions that have been established by the United Nations to fight corruption seemed not to be making a remarkable impact, especially in Africa, TI could do a little to solve that problem.

He said the African Union Convention, for instance, was a guideline to assist governments to curb corruption.

?The Convention remains a convenient way of committing countries to at least promise they would go in a specific direction to tackle the issue. If you take the African Union Convention, for example, there are no detailed laws; it is just general guidelines requesting you to sign and ratify that you are committed to, for instance, disclosure of assets,? he elaborated.