OccupyGhana repeats demands for timelines and roadmap on passage of conduct of Public Officers Act

OccupyGhana repeats demands for timelines and roadmap on passage of conduct of Public Officers Act

OccupyGhana has repeated the demand for timelines and roadmap on the passage of conduct of Public Officers Act.

Accra, 16 November 2023
OccupyGhana has taken note of the following statement in the Government’s 2024 Budget ‘Nkunim’ Speech, presented by the Finance Minister to Parliament on 15 November 2023:

‘184. Mr. Speaker, the new Conduct of Public Officers Act seeks to address current weaknesses in the asset declaration system. The new Act will introduce provisions to ensure public officers submit their declarations in a timely manner and that an effective verification system is in place.

The draft Bill is currently under consideration by Cabinet and will subsequently be submitted to Parliament.’

We remain unconvinced that the Government intends to ensure that the draft Bill is passed into law any time soon, because of the dithering and buck-passing that the Government has engaged in, and the absence of any timelines or a roadmap.  For now, all that exists are empty, reluctant assurances that lead us nowhere.

Although the promise to enact this anti-corruption law was contained in the NPP 2020 Manifesto, it was not until around May 2022 that a draft Bill was submitted to Cabinet. OccupyGhana initiated follow-ups in the same month. In several months of pressure from us we were met with patchy and deflecting responses from Cabinet. Finally, on 14 February 2023, Cabinet informed us that it had rejected the Bill, based on a blatantly false claim that the Bill’s provisions already existed in other legislation. We contested this, and ultimately provided to Cabinet a 20-page table that demonstrated the differences in provisions. Despite our efforts, a 16 June 2023 letter from Cabinet merely acknowledged our communication, offering no resolution.

Ghana’s ironic ‘luck’ came about when because of the Government’s economic crisis, it was forced to seek assistance from the IMF, who, mercifully, made passing the Bill into law a conditionality for its support. The Government, which had rejected the Bill, was then compelled to resume work on it, not because it wants to pass it or because it respects the demands of concerned, interested and directly affected Ghanaians, but because the IMF had made it a conditionality.

On 11 September 2023, the President, in his speech at the opening of the 2023 Annual Conference of the Ghana Bar Association, announced that ‘the Attorney-General will bring the bill for consideration by cabinet and subsequent enactment by Parliament upon the conclusion of the consultation.’ This announcement raised questions, because unless the President was suggesting a resubmission of the Bill to Cabinet, it lacked coherence: the Bill had been with the same Cabinet for about one and a half years already and had been rejected!

The very next day, on 12 September 2023, we sent yet another letter to Cabinet. This time, Cabinet claimed it had requested the Finance Minister to prepare a memorandum on the matter and was awaiting that memorandum before concluding deliberations. Despite our attempts to engage the Finance Minister on this, all our letters and reminders to him have been ignored. Cabinet itself has ceased responding to us.

Consequently, we doubt the Government's sincerity when it once again announces through the same Finance Minister who is part of the Cabinet that rejected the Bill and who has ignored us, that ‘the draft Bill is under consideration by Cabinet and will be submitted to Parliament subsequently.’ What sticks out is the complete, continued and deliberate absence of any timelines or roadmap.

In the upcoming Budget debate, we expect that Parliament, if it is not part of this ongoing pantomime and charade, will demand specific answers from the Government regarding timelines and a roadmap. The questions should include ‘When will the unenthusiastic and hesitant Cabinet conclude its almost two-year excruciatingly reluctant and deliberately snail-paced consideration of the draft Bill, and when will it submit it to Parliament?’

Without this, the Government is merely taking the people for a ride. ‘Nkunim’ or victory is not achieved by being probably the only Government on earth that has to be compelled by IMF conditionalities to fulfil a campaign and Manifesto anti-corruption promise! ‘Nkunim’ or victory is achieved where a government that is serious about the fight against corruption, provides clear timelines on and outlines a roadmap to the passage of this all-important law.

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