CSOs demand adequate funding of Special Prosecutor

BY: Isaac Yeboah

A number of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working on anti-corruption and good governance issues have asked for adequate funding of the Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP) to enable it carry out its functions effectively.

They also want President Akufo-Addo to expedite action on the formation of the new OSP board to allow the office recruit its staff in accordance with the OSP Act 2017 (Act 959).

According to the CSOs in a statement issued sequel to a meeting with the Special Prosecutor, Mr. Kissi Agyebeng, corruption remains a serious challenge in Ghana and all key investigative and prosecutorial agencies are needed to effectively work to help the country achieve its objectives.

The meeting on Tuesday, 26th October 2021, was at the instance of Mr. Agyebeng.

The CSOs said of GH¢1.2 billion budget for capital and recurrent expenditure for the OSP, only GH¢80 million was allocated representing 6.6% was allocated.

“This is far below what was even allocated by government in the 2018 financial year for the setting up of the Office, although the money was never accessed.”

“At the meeting, the SP laid out his vision for the Office which included focusing on corruption prevention activities targeted at addressing issues such as gift-giving, developing and preparing integrity plans for public agencies, conducting corruption risk assessments for major financial transactions, production of a manual to guide citizens on the operations of the Office and the launch of a flagship tool to track the progress of institutions called the Corruption League Table. The SP’s vision also focused strongly on asset recovery, use of plea bargaining, and of course, prosecution, backed by good forensic work and investigations,” the statement said.

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According to the CSOs, while government has provided a spacious 10-storey building at Ridge in Accra as office accommodation for the OSP, “it was currently occupying one floor as the OSP is yet to retrofit the rest of the floors, recruit the necessary staff and set up the Office fully.”

They commended government for providing the OSP with the appropriate space to set up its operations but said there is still a lot to do for the OSP to be fully operational to pursue all its functions.

“We acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on government resources and there are many essential competing needs. Nonetheless, we urge government to do its best to ensure the OSP is finally able to get off the ground so it can do its important integrity building and anti-corruption work, an agenda that the President and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have identified as a key development priority if Ghana is to transform and go beyond aid.

The CSOs include the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ghana Center for Democratic Development, Africa Center for Energy Policy, Citizens Movement Against Corruption, Penplusbytes, Star Ghana Foundation and SEND Ghana.

The rest are the Media Foundation for West Africa, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Parliamentary Network Africa, CSO Platform on SDGs, Africa Centre for International Law & Accountability, and journalist Manasseh Azure.