“Now is the time to act” is the message of the 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, which was opened on Monday by the Danish Prime Minister Lars LÃ¸kke Rasmussen.
The Conference is co-hosted by Transparency International and the government of Denmark and brings together more than 1,500 participants including heads of state, civil society actors, the private sector and journalists from more than 120 countries.
Ghana sent a very strong delegation to Denmark including the Deputy Minister of Finance Kwaku Kwarteng, Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelevo, Special Prosecutor Martin A.B.K. Amidu and representatives of the media and civil society.
Ghanaâ€™s Ambassadors to Denmark, Amerley Ollennu Awua-Asamoa, and Denmarkâ€™s Ambassador to Ghana, Tove Degnbol, are also participating.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Kwarteng agrees, indeed, that time has come to act: â€œWe donâ€™t have any choice. We cannot continue to talk and talk. I think there is a general change in attitude and a realisation that we have acted less than we have spoken.”
“We have had many of these conferences in the past without really acting. I hope â€“ and I am confident â€“ that we will leave this conference with better resolve to implement the conclusions, so that the next time, we are here, we shall discuss progress and how we can even have more progress,â€ Mr Kwarteng said.
The Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, was also optimistic: â€œIt is such an inspiration to hear what other countries are doing, and I am confident that the inspiration we get here will be put to immediate action in Ghana.â€
â€œWe now have to implement all that we have been discussing. The first thing to me is discipline. People cannot run away with abuses of resources and just be left alone. If we start disciplining these people and put good systems in place, I think the corruption fight can be won,â€ he said.
Linda Ofori-Kwafo, the Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Ghanaian chapter of Transparency International, emphasised the broad anti-corruption alliance represented at the Conference. â€Fighting corruption cannot be the work of only one person. We need collaborative efforts by government institutions, civil society, media, and the private sector. Only when we come together â€“ as at this conference â€“ and work together, we are able to end corruption,â€ she said.
On the very first day of the Conference, more than 45 national governments, businesses, and organisations endorsed a statement aiming to prevent and drive out corruption.
The signatories â€“ among them Ghanaâ€™s Deputy Minister of Finance, pledged to take action in key areas including returning the proceeds of corruption to their rightful owners, ending secrecy over company ownership, clamping down on money laundering and tax evasion, promoting integrity in state-owned enterprises, and improving implementation of existing conventions such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption and frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
Commenting later, Mr Kwarteng said: â€œOne of the things we take home is the realisation that we ought to participate more in the global discussions on the fight against corruption so that the needs of our peculiar economies and circumstances are addressed.
The Special Prosecutor, Mr Amidu said corruption is a crime and should be dealt with as such.
â€œCorruption has no political correlation. It is a crime against society and it must be dealt with as such. We, who head anti-corruption institutions, have to be non-partisan and treat crime as crime. When the population will begin to see that if you fall foul of the law, youâ€™ll be dealt with no matter which political party you belong to.â€
The Ambassador of Denmark to Ghana, Tove Degnbol said: â€œThe delegation from Ghana has obviously taken home a lot of specific suggestions and I am sure that they are ready to apply them. Our Auditor-General has met with the Auditor-General of Kenya and exchanged experiences. The deputy minister of Finance has been engaged in dialogue about the tax system and how to avoid under- and overprice invoicing, stop illicit financial flows,â€ she said.