According to President Akufo-Addo, the Attorney General has, to this end, undertaken various stakeholder consultations with a number of public sector organisations, civil society and other interest groups to this end.
“When passed into law, the Conduct of Public Officers Act will follow the example of legislations in other jurisdictions like the United States Ethics in Government Act of 1978, the Public Officers Ethics Act of Kenya of 2003, and the U.K. Constitutional and Governance Act of 2010, in addressing issues regarding financial portfolios held by public officers before assuming public office, links to family business, improper enrichment, care of public property, professional practices, property, investments/shareholdings and other assets, self-dealing, partiality in the performance of duties, use of public or confidential information to further private interest, amongst others,” he said.
The President made this known on Monday, 11th September 2023, when he delivered a speech at the 2023 Bar Conference of the Ghana Bar Association, in Cape Coast, in the Central Region.
“The Bill will provide a gamut of stringent administrative measures and sanctions to deal with violations of the law, ranging from a bar against holding public office for limited and indefinite periods, to penal measures,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “The Bill will also seek to strengthen the role of CHRAJ in the investigation of allegations of contravention of or non-compliance with the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, including conflict of interest, non-declaration of assets, and illicit enrichment. The Attorney General will bring the Bill soon for the consideration of Cabinet and subsequent enactment by Parliament, upon the conclusion of his consultations. “
The President, to this end, assured that the fight to enhance standards and integrity in public life will continue under his Government.
“We will enforce the law, no matter who is affected because it is a necessary foundation for the successful fight against corruption, and for guaranteeing integrity in public life. The law must truly be no respecter of persons,” he added.
Laws passed to fight Corruption
With a clear understanding that corruption thrives in an atmosphere conducive to its concealment, the President explained that access to information is a vital tool in the fight against corruption.
It is for this reason that his government, in its first term, ensured the passage of the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989), in order to give true meaning and effect to article 21(1)(f) of the Constitution.
“The Act, which successive governments had failed to pass, sees to the implementation of the constitutional right to information, held by a public institution, to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs, subject to exemptions necessary and consistent with the protection of the public interest in a democratic society,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the Act is being implemented fully now, with the governing Board chaired by an experienced, retired High Court Judge, adding that the Ministry of Information has trained information officers in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government to support the full application of the law.
“In 2018, again during my 1st term, Parliament passed the Witness Protection Act, 2018, (Act 975), to which I gave assent on 24th August the same year. The Act established a Witness Protection Agency to establish a witness protection scheme as a vehicle for offering protection to persons, who are required to co-operate with law enforcement agencies as witnesses in the investigation and prosecution of cases, particularly corruption cases affecting public officers,” he stated.
The Criminal Offences (Amendment) Act, 2020, (Act 1034), the President added, has been passed to amend section 239 of the Criminal Offences Act, to categorise the offence of corruption, previously a misdemeanor, as a felony, and to provide stiffer punishments of terms of imprisonment of not less than twelve (12) years and not more than twenty-five (25) years in prison.
Other laws passed by Parliament, at the instigation of his administration, and which have enhanced significantly the capacity of the State in the fight against corruption, are the:
• Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act, 2020 (Act 1029);
• Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2018 (Act 982);
• State Interests and Governance Authority Act, 2019 (Act 990);
• Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2020 (Act 1044);
• Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency Act, 2020 (Act 1015);
• Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992), including its provisions on the register of beneficial owners;
• Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) and
• Real Estate Agency Act, 2020 (Act 1047).
Administratively, President Akufo-Addo indicated that a series of other far-reaching measures have been undertaken by his government to help in the fight against corruption.
“A Memorandum of Understanding, on information exchange and collaboration in combating corruption and crime in general, has been signed by CHRAJ, EOCO, Parliament, Office of the Attorney-General, Ghana Audit Service, Ghana Police Service, Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), Narcotics Control Commission, Internal Audit Agency, National Investigations Bureau (NIB), and the Office of the Special Prosecutor, to this end,” he stated.
Underlying the digitalization agenda of his government, which comprises a robust national identification system, digital property address system, paperless port system, e-justice system, pensions and insurance data, a digitized land registry, and mobile money interoperability system, he said, is the overarching objective to improve transparency, accountability and efficiency in the public sector.
“A digitized environment, ultimately, helps to eliminate and prevent corruption in various institutions and agencies. The passport office, ports and harbours, Registrar-General’s Department, National Health Insurance Service, Driver Vehicle and Licensing Authority, which, hitherto, were fertile grounds for corrupt activity, are being transformed beyond recognition. The introduction of the Ghana.Gov platform has significantly reduced the risk of public sector corruption through embezzlement, making it possible for services to be accessed and payments made online by card or mobile money, with a considerable reduction in the conduit of middlemen or ‘goro boys’”, President Akufo-Addo added.