Members of Parliament (MPs) have expressed alarm at the increasing cases of corruption and its effects on the country’s socio-economic development.
They said it was unacceptable for Ghana to lose an estimated $3 billion of tax payers’ money through corrupt activities annually.
The legislators, therefore, urged the government to resource the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Attorney General’s Department and other anti-corruption agencies to ensure expeditious prosecution of corrupt officials to serve as a deterrent to others.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Ho West, Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, set the tone for the discussion when he read a statement on the need to combat corruption in the country in Parliament last Saturday.
Mr Bedzrah said the African Union (AU) had estimated the cost of corruption to the continent to be about $150 billion annually.
That amount he said, was more than seven times the amount received by Sub-saharan Africa as aid.
He said it was because of the alarming statistics that 2018 had been declared as the year of anti-corruption in Africa to raise awareness on the havoc that corruption was causing to the transformational agenda of the continent and to tackle it with a sense of urgency.
“Ghana is on record to lose an estimated amount of $3 billion of tax payers’ money through corruption activities, the amount which is three times the money spent on our free senior high school (SHS) programme last year.
“Corruption on the continent has become cancerous in our social fibre such that the more it is fought, the more it appears to be on the rise,” Mr Bedzrah said.
He said the situation was such that anywhere an individual went to that individual was likely to encounter issues of corruption.
“It is time issues of corruption were dealt with just like bread and butter issues. Winning the fight against poverty will be out of reach if issues of corruption are left on the back burner,” he said.
Mr Bedzrah, who is the Chairman of the African Parliamentarians’ Network Against Corruption (APNAC), Ghana chapter, said the network had resolved to join all forces to combat corruption in all forms with the support of civil society organisations and the public.
He said Ghana needed to do more to reflect and envisage the outcome of the declaration of 2018 Africa anti-corruption year.
Mr Bedzrah said the network had decided that the first Monday of every month starting from the first Monday of December, 2018 should be declared anti-corruption day to battle corruption in the country.
He said every citizen was expected to serve as a corruption police or watchman who would go under cover and gather evidence of corruption in order to expose corruption in public institutions and report same for action.
Besides, he said, every citizen whether, in their homes or in offices, should protest against corruption being perpetuated in their presence irrespective of the consequences.
Mr Bedzrah said another decision of the network was to publish profiles of anti-corruption personalities of the month, and the needed morning drills in schools to focus on understanding the country’s anti-corruption legislations.
He was of the strongest conviction that those measures would take the country forward.
“I call for a concerted effort and commitment by all Ghanaians to win the fight against the corruption canker to increase our fortunes and that of Africa and to create prosperity for all sections of our society,” he urged.
Forms of corruption
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Manhyia North, Mr Collins Owusu Amankwah, said corruption took different forms, such as bribery, cronyism, nepotism and favouritism, embezzlement, legal blunder, Presidential filling fee, human and drug trafficking.
He said corruption had affected the socio-economic development of the country and worsened the plight of many people.
“Because of corruption, somebody is wallowing in abject poverty, somebody could not complete school, somebody cannot afford two square meals a day. This is a very serious social canker and must be battled from all angles,” he demanded.
Mr Amankwah said many public officers had abused procurement processes with sole sourcing as the most abused process, and indicated that in recent times the abuse had minimised.
The NDC MP for Banda and Deputy Minority Whip, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, urged MPs to show leadership in the fight against corruption.
“If we think it is up to someone else to fight corruption, we may not get there”, he said.