Denmark, other partners to support Ghana fight corruption — Danish Ambassador
Denmark and many other partners stand ready to support Ghana in the fight against corruption, the Danish Ambassador, Mrs Dove Degnbol, has stated.
She said Denmark was doing its best to apply integrity measures, both in its development programmes, in the business cooperation and when issuing visas.
Danish companies, she noted, met at regular intervals for breakfast meetings at the embassy to exchange experience about where and how they were facing pressure to pay illegal fees and how to avoid succumbing to the pressure.
“They also exchange experience with some of the Danish-supported civil society organisations (CSOs) and benefit from their analyses of themes such as the practices applied at the Tema Port, the registration of new companies and leakages in various parts of the government’s administration,” she stated.
The ambassador gave an assurance when she addressed a reception held at the embassy to celebrate the 169th anniversary of Denmark’s Constitution Day.
The reception was attended by ministers of state, members of Ghana’s Parliament, the academia, members of the diplomatic corps, the Danish community, traditional and religious leaders and business executives.
Mrs Degnbol noted that the interest by companies in participating was high, and the embassy was using the consolidated experience in its dialogue with relevant government partners on how best to improve the situation.
Ghana Beyond Aid
Ambassador Degnbol stated that shortly after the state visit by Queen Margrethe II, another visit by two Danish ministers further underlined the close relations between Denmark and Ghana.
She said one of the key areas of the Danish-Ghanaian development cooperation was their support for the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
The ambassador said the Minister for Taxation and the Minister for Development Cooperation came to witness this effort and to gain inspiration from Ghana on how Denmark could support tax systems in other countries.
During their visit, she said the Danish ministers met with Danish business people working in Ghana.
She recalled that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had underlined that when Ghana was moving Beyond Aid, it would be crucial that the government exploited the country’s full tax potential by collecting all the taxes and duties necessary to fund basic social and economic infrastructure.
From the business community, she said they heard that it was essential for future business cooperation that procedures at the Tema Port were streamlined and costs associated with import of goods became much more predictable.
The ambassador emphasised that the Danish support to ensure more efficient working procedures and training of customs staff had the objective of increasing the domestic revenue collection, while at the same time increasing transparency and predictability.
Tax in Denmark
The ambassador disclosed that most Danes paid close to half of their income in tax, and said there were two main reasons that explained how it was possible to make citizens pay so much tax in Denmark.
Firstly, she said people saw the immediate benefits from their contribution, adding that education, including university, was free and students in tertiary institutions even received allowance from government, which they lived on.
“Health services, including advanced heart surgery, are free and every town has a public library, roads and other infrastructure are well maintained and there is social security for people unable to earn an income themselves,” she added.
She said the other factor was the integrity measures applied and the fact that the respect by civil servants for taxpayers’ money was high and when handling public resources, civil servants were aware that other people worked hard to earn the money.
“If someone in Denmark is found guilty in corrupt actions, the punishment is immediate and severe,” she stressed.
Mrs Degnbol wished Ghana and her people a future characterised by stability and prosperity, saying they were proud to consider Denmark not only a close friend of Ghana, but a member of the same family.
She expressed appreciation to colleagues at the embassy for the various roles they played before, during and after the Danish state visit, as well as for the Constitution Day.
She thanked all the companies which sponsored the anniversary celebration.
In her address, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Afua Akuffo, said the government of Ghana was currently seriously focused on re-directing the country and her economy into the new digital age.
These, she noted, included the introduction of e-business registration, paperless port clearance systems, a digital address system, mobile money interoperability system and a national identification card system.
The justice minister pointed out that these policy interventions were designed to formalise the economy, reduce the cost of doing business and facilitate efficiency between businesses and their clients.
She said that was in tune with a technology-driven era where connectivity sharpened competitiveness and where the private sector remained a crucial partner in the development of a country.
Ms Akuffo expressed her sincere appreciation to Queen Margrethe II for the honour of choosing Ghana as her favourite destination for her visit to the West African sub-region.
The Attorney General said she was happy that in the spirit of partnership, the Danish government had begun to reorient the focus of its engagement with Ghana to enhance trade and investment in line with government’s quest for more “Trade Beyond Aid.”
‘We cannot be happier with a friendship as sincere and mutually-beneficial as we have with Denmark,” she stated.