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Thursday, 23 July 2009

Perception of corruption in Ghana worsens

Suleiman Mustapha ,

Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Joe Ghartey is assembling a Grand Coalition of anti corruption agencies in the country in an effort to reduce the incidence of corruption in the country.

The coalition, which will include both Government and civil society organisations in the fight against corruption, is to form an interface between the relevant corruption monitoring institutions, Government Spokesperson on Governance Frank Agyekum told The Statesman in response to enquiries on the Government reaction to the report of anti corruption body Transparency International which ranked Ghana high on its Corruption Perception Index.

The coalition, which will be known as the Grand Ghana Anti Corruption Coalition, is due to be inaugurated later this month and will meet regularly in a bid to plug the corruption loopholes in the system.

"In fact, the process has already begun and this is to show how serious Government is, in the fight against corruption" said the Governance spokesperson.

Mr Agyekum, who was "shocked" by Ghana's ranking on the index, said "it is unfortunate and regrettable that we should be ranked at that level."

"We do not even know who they talk to when they come to town and all we hear is that we have been ranked high."

Ghana was ranked 70 out of 163 countries surveyed in the global CPI for this year, a five-step fall from last year when there were four countries less.

Ghana received a score of 3.3 out of 10 on the CPI scale, down 0.2 point from 2005, indicating that Ghanaian society is becoming corrupt slowly but surely.

Ghana"s result, the worst in the past 10 years, is now at par with that in 1999, which was recorded when the Rawlings administration was in power.

CPI relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts, and ranges from scores of 10, which is "highly clean," and 0, which is "highly corrupt."

But according Mr Agyekum, evidence abounds of Government’s commitment to fighting corruption on all fronts, and those institutions will continue to be strengthened.

He mentioned the passage of a law to regulate Government procurements, which, though cumbersome, has blocked many loopholes previous exploited, as well as the Internal Audit Act, which makes it possible for auditors to audit Government accounts at short notice.

He said since no Government official has been indicted on corruption charges, it would be unfair to perceive that the incidence of corruption is high in the country.

Mr Agyekum emphasised that it was perception of a phenomenon which may not be the reality, but assured that Government was studying the report and would soon come out with an official pronouncement.

In the report released yesterday by TI, all low-income countries and all but two African states scored below five points, meaning they face serious perceived levels of domestic corruption.

Botswana is the cleanest ranked African state in 37th place on the list, with South Africa (51st ) and Namibia (55th) in the upper third. Nigeria is among the worst-ranked states at place 142. Guinea was the worst placed Africa nation at 160

Finland, Iceland and New Zealand came first with 9.6 points, while Haiti came in last scoring 1.8 points, according to the report.

Britain was 11th with an 8.6 rating, Germany 16th at 8.0 and the United States 20th with 7.3. Italy mustered only a 4.9 rating in 45th place, while Russia was ranked 121 with 2.5.

Countries with a significant worsening of corruption include: Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Jordan, Laos, Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the US, said the report.

Countries with a significant reduction in perceived levels of corruption include: Algeria, Czech Republic, India, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Paraguay, Slovenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uruguay.

The Berlin-based Transparency International’s CPI ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. It is a composite index, a poll of polls, drawing on corruption-related data from expert and business surveys carried out by a variety of independent and reputable institutions.

The value of the results is sometimes disputed because they are based on the opinions of the people polled and the amount of data used in surveys is different for each nation. TI requires at least three sources to include a country in the CPI.

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