More and more foreign envoys, are beginning to speak against the corruption menace in the country under the Akufo-Addo government and warning that efforts to attract more foreign direct investment into Ghana, may hit a snag due to corruption.
At a forum centred on fighting corruption organized by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) consortium, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the British High Commissioner, revealed that some investors remain skeptical of dealings in Ghana.
The U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie Sullivan, also made a strong case for Ghana to take her corruption fight to levels where people caught indulging in the practice face heavy sanctions, adding the high perception of corruption among state institutions, has the potential to affect the business confidence of investors.
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Ghana, Ron Strikker, noted that anti-corruption efforts were just as important as promotion efforts by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).
The Transparency International (TI) in January this year, ranked Ghana 78 out of 180 countries on the 2018 global Corruption Perception Index.
According to the report, Ghana scored 41 out of a possible clean score of 100, with the score showing that Ghanaâ€™s performance, had improved by one point from its 2017 score of 40.
While several factors, including policies and initiatives by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) have been alleged to account for this improvement, some Ghanaians, maintain the government is losing the fight on the ground.
Speaking at a public forum on the â€œCost of corruption in Ghana â€“ deliberations for remedyâ€, the US Ambassador urged authorities to crack the whip and punish corrupt persons to restore confidence in the system.
â€œCorruption is not a victimless crime, it actually involves stealing directly from people. Globally, corruption cost 5% of GDP, it increases the cost of doing business and reduces investment in countries perceived to be generally corrupt. Under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, American companies are forbidden from engaging in bribery and corruption under penalty of our laws which are vigorously enforced.
â€œWest Africa loses 1.95 billion US dollars each year in the illicit trading in fisheries and other marine resources alone. On top of that, illegal mining, logging and wildlife trafficking cause nations and citizens even more.
â€œAs we discuss this in small groups following this encounter, we ask Ghanaians not to admire the problem but to deliberate on what is working well, what can be strengthened and how and what additional actionable measures can be put in place going forward.â€
Backing the call by the U.S. Ambassador, the Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Ron Strikker, advocated the use of investigative journalism as a key tool to unearthing corruption.
â€œInvestigative journalism really helps. I see this in my own country where itâ€™s not always only corruption that is targeted but mismanagement of funds. Journalists investigating may take time and of course, it takes a lot of effort but it is important that something come to the light. We all know corruption does not like or accept light, doesnâ€™t like transparency so if journalists come to the point to investigate issues and bring things to the forefront, it will really help in the fight,â€ Ron Strikker.
â€œWe have Dutch investors, we have Dutch companies that want to do business here in Ghana and we know what the effect of corruption is. It is very negative. You can organise 10 GIPC trips to the Netherlands to promote investment and trade in Ghana but if those companies hear about the corrupt practices going on in a particular then they simply will not come or at least they will be very reluctant to do so.â€
The UK High Commissioner, Iain Walker, also noted the toll that corruption has on governance. â€œCorruption does seem to one thing [that everyone] has absolute consensus, that it is bad for democracyâ€¦ In the many conversions I have, what I hear is that this is something that needs to be much more fervently tackled.â€
In response to these concerns, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) says the solution to Ghanaâ€™s corruption problem is the Office of the Special Prosecutor. According to the partyâ€™s Director of Communications, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, â€œwhat is left is the boldness and the leadership to utilize those opportunities against any push back that one experiences.â€
â€œOne institution can make a difference and in Ghana, the Office of the Special Prosecutor, given the legal powers and authority and tenure this Parliament has given it on the initiative of the Executive, can be that difference.
A recent survey by IMANI Africa rated the governmentâ€™s handling of corruption at 23.60 percent.
The Afrobarometer survey also noted that 53 percent of Ghanaians say corruption worsened â€œsomewhatâ€ or â€œa lotâ€ in 2018. Ghana is currently ranked 118 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings.
The rank of Ghana deteriorated to 118 in 2019 from 114 in 2018. Ease of Doing Business in Ghana averaged 92.83 from 2008 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of 120 in 2017 and a record low of 60 in 2010.
The Danish Ambassador to Ghana, MrsTove Degnbol, on Monday expressed worry about the attacks on the reputation of the countryâ€™s Auditor-General, Daniel Demelevo and Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu.
Speaking at the inaugural Ghana Integrity Awards ceremony organised by the GII on Monday, December 9, 2019, Mrs Degnbol said: â€œIt is particularly sad to see that certain public institutions are doing their utmost to put hindrances in the way for integrity institutions such as the Auditor-Generalâ€™s Office and the Office of the Special Prosecutor on anti-corruptionâ€.
â€œAs we are approaching an election-year, the attacks against integrity institutions and individuals contributing to fight corruption seem to be on the increase. This is noted with a lot of concern by many in the international community.
â€œThe Auditor-General has said you cannot fight corruption without corruption, fighting you. This is sad. But apparently true in Ghana, where constant attempts to challenge mandate and personal integrity and systematic hindrances of efforts to fight corruption seems to be the prize to pay for those brave enough to take up the fight,â€ she added.
She urged Ghanaians to make â€œcorruption a high-risk enterprise as the Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu has called forâ€.