Ghana: Govt Signals Passage of Conduct of Public Officers Law Next Year

10 December 2019

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has assured that the government will collaborate with Parliament to pass the Conduct of Public Officers (COPO) Bill into law, early next year, to rein in on corruption in public sector.

According to him, the bill, which is the oldest outstanding bill before Parliament, is "one law that can help build integrity in the Public Service, and we cannot afford to delay it any further."

The bill, which has since its drafting about 10 years ago, been in and out of parliament when passed, would guide public officials to avoid compromising and conflicting situations in their work, as generally stated in the Constitution.

The Vice President was speaking at a National Conference to commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) and end this year's Anti-Corruption and Transparency (ACT) Week, in Accra yesterday.

The ACT Week, organised by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and its partners, is a week-long anti-corruption campaign held annually as part of the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), a 10-year national strategy to tackle graft.

This year's edition, started last Monday on the theme "NACAP: Mobilising national efforts and resources to combat corruption, five years on", was to examine the implementation of the plan so far and chart the way forward.

IACD is also observed yearly to raise public awareness on anti-corruption.

According to Dr Bawumia, the government which was serious about the fight against corruption had ensured the passage of laws to boost the NACAP implementation including the Witness Protection Act, 2018 (Act 959), the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2018 (Act 959) and the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2019 (Act 989).

Additionally, he said budgetary allocations to all the accountability institutions of state, had been increased with CHRAJ's own swelling from GH¢16.8 million in 2016 to over GH¢40 million in 2020.

To further boost the fight against corruption, he said deficits in logistics and personnel of law enforcement agencies and accountability institutions were being addressed.

Dr Bawumia said the government was using technology to fight corruption through the introduction of digital services including digital drivers' licence and digital vehicle registration process, the National Identification System, Digital Postal Address System, Paperless Port Systems, digitised land registry and Mobile Money Interoperability System.

These and more to be introduced next year, he said "will together enhance transparency and accountability and improve the efficiency of many government agencies in terms of service delivery and ultimately help to prevent and eliminate corruption," he said.

The CHRAJ Commissioner, Joseph Whittal, noted that although the NACAP had been hailed as an effective tool worldwide, to curb corruption, inadequate funding and political will had been major setbacks.

He therefore called on the presidency to intervene in its efficient execution as the cost of corruption continued to increase and affect the poor and the vulnerable.

In a presentation on the state of corruption, Deputy CHRAJ Commissioner, Richard Quayson disclosed that based on media reports and corruption surveys and indexes, corruption continued to strive despite efforts to curb it thus the need for more to be done to weed out the practice.

Representatives from the legislative and judicial arms of the government as well as international partners including United Nations, European Union and the British government in separate speeches, called for redoubling of efforts to stem out corruption with a pledge to play their roles.

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