A two-day stakeholder conference to solicit, and discuss perspectives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 which is currently before Parliament has opened in Accra.
The conference, which is being hosted by the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament, forms part of efforts aimed at complimenting government's plans to deal with corruption in the country.
Hon. Benjamin Abdullah Banda, Chairman of the Committee, who opened the conference on Tuesday said Parliament in its wisdom, deemed it necessary to brainstorm on the Bill in order to come out with a formidable law.
He said Parliament could not undertake such an important national assignment without inputs from CSOs, especially, due to the controversies the Bill had generated.
He said the greatest dangers of corruption were the loss of public confidence and trust in public institutions, adding that if it was not dealt with now it could ultimately erode the efforts of arousing national consciousness and nation building.
"It is said that fighting corruption ultimately depends on values; values not only the political leadership, but values of the public service, and as an ultimate check, the values of civil society as a whole," he said and urged all citizens to be crusaders in the fight against corruption.
The Majority Leader and MP for Suame in the Ashanti region, Hon Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, in a remark said corruption could be best fought by creating and strengthening systems for accountability, transparency and public participation in the governance process.
He urged all to rally around the idea of establishing an Office of a Special Prosecutor to help curb corruption, adding that corruption down plays the realization of basic human rights, a healthy economy, the right to work, good health and the right to education.
"The people need it, the economy needs it, the environment needs it, Ghana needs it... the Bill in its current form may not even be perfect... no Bill has ever been, indeed no Act is a perfect document... If we put our minds to it we can only make it better, "he said.
On his part, the Minority Leader and MP for Tamale Central, Haruna Iddrisu, on his part assured President Akufo-Addo that the "minority is with him in the fight against corruption and to build stringer and transparent institutions."
He touched on the long title of the Bill which talks about the "establishment of an Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute certain categories of cases and allegations of corruption and other criminal wrongdoing, those alleged violations of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) and cases implicating public office and politically exposed persons," and raised concerns over the use of the politically exposed persons.
The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon Joseph Osei - Owusu, in a remark said corruption and impunity could be wholly curbed with the development of new ethics, culture and a mindset.
Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh on behalf of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) and the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) proposed incentives for citizens who report corrupt officials in public sector to reduce corruption.
Some Civil Society Organizations attending the event includes the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ghana Journalist Association and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association.
The Bill is to establish the Office of the Special Prosecutor as a specialised agency to investigate specific cases of corruption involving public officers and politically exposed persons in the performance of their functions as well as individuals in the private sector implicated in the commission of corruption and prosecute these offenses on the authority of the Attorney General.
Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah)