A legal Practitioner, Mr Ace Anan Ankomah, has traced the country’s challenges to its inability and sheer refusal to implement and enforce corporate governance principles that are set out in its laws for public and private institutions.
This, he said, was in spite of the fact that the country had already developed for itself current laws which were comparable to laws of the ‘rule of law’ countries such as United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK).
“The reality is that laws must bite when breached. But someone, often the government or a regulator, must ensure that the bite happens.
That is the snag and the weakest link in our chain,” Mr Ankomah said at a forum organised by the Institute of Internal Auditors Ghana (IIA) on November 28 in Accra.
Mr Ankomah said, “ the person to enforce the law always has it at the back of his or her mind that Ghana is in reality on a large compound house where everyone knows or is related to everyone, and relationships are more important than principles and the law.”
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“Nowhere is this more typified than in our banking sector,” he added.
Mr Ankomah described corporate governance as a system of rules, practices and processes by which a corporate body was directed and controlled.
He said it involved balancing the interests of a company’s many stakeholders, such as shareholders, management, customers, suppliers, financiers, the government and the community.
“It encompasses practically every sphere of management, from action plans and internal controls to performance measurement and corporate disclosure.”
In that regard, Mr Ankomah stated that the Banking and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930), empowered Bank of Ghana (BOG) to make corporate governance rules that it considered necessary or appropriate to ensure prudent operation.
He noted that the regulatory powers given to BoG were aimed at protecting the public and the depositor who had assumed that the best protection against armed robbery was to entrust funds into the hands of banks.
But with the recent happening in the banking industry, he asked whether the regulator or the banks were doing as stipulated by the law.
“Is it now the case that in the past to rob a bank you needed guns and masks, but today, the best and most efficient way to rob a bank is to own a bank? Have our banks succeeded in making a mockery of the corporate governance principles that are set out so beautifully in our laws?” he asked.
Role of auditors
To ensure good corporate governance, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), Mr Martin Eson-Benjamin, stated that the role of internal, and even external auditors and our regulators remained key.
He said they must produce facts and data, with which to judge efficiencies, to gauge institutional adherence to and compliance with statutory rules and norms; and to allow for effective controls.
He explained that those services were what the Institute of Internal Auditors was set to provide.
“It is not enough to pontificate on good governance when we pay lip service to probity and accountability: there must be a keen watchman, an auditor, a monitoring system, a performance evaluator who keeps all alert by correcting and sanctioning.
“Every upright institution must welcome your role; while members of the institute must be honest and professional in their operations,” he added.