The Commission on Human Rights and Administration Justice (CHRAJ says lack of adequate operational budget is its biggest challenge in fighting corruption in the country.
“For human resources, we have well-trained investigators but lack adequate funds to investigate alleged anti-corruption cases. Anti-corruption allegations require money to be investigated properly.
“You have to investigate thoroughly. It has to be comprehensive and done confidentially,”
Commissioner of CHRAJ, Lauretta Vivian Lamptey, told Business and Financial Times in an interview.
She added: “Our regional offices are not well-resourced, but we are managing the situation.” Currently, CHRAJ has over 700 staff, 10 regional offices and 96 districts across the country.
Though she declined to give details about the commission’s budget for next year, Ms Lamptey disclosed that 75 percent of its activities for next year have been factored into the 2012 national budget.
Legal analysts say CHRAJ has not been tested much with high-profile cases that would expose its capabilities, but it is important that government resource the Commission to perform its national mandate.
The Commissioner explained that to be effective in addressing the problem of corruption, an ethical infrastructure must integrate both the value-approach and disciplinary-approach in a coherent and balanced system.
“Indeed, we may legislate to control and deter corruption -- but we need supportive administrative structures in addition to legislation to ensure good ethical conduct.
“The basic components of this infrastructure include an enforceable code of conduct that makes clear provisions on conflicts of interest; established procedures which include mechanisms for whistle-blowing; mechanisms for collaboration between existing anti-corruption agencies; and regular sensitisation of the citizenry.”
She stated that the Commission has made further significant contributions to building integrity in the country, adding: “As a start, the Commission established an anti-corruption department to focus primarily on the execution of the anti-corruption mandate of the Commission.”
She said the department has been able to take the country’s counter-corruption drive to an enviable level, despite the limited number of staff and inadequate office space, among others.
Notwithstanding the numerous efforts toward the fight against corruption, there is -- at least on the perception level -- no sign that corruption is decreasing steadily in Ghana or any a positive note that the anti-corruption effort is making any significant impact.
The anti-corruption approach has been highly dependent on dealing with only the public sector with little involvement of the private sector.
But the CHRAJ Commissioner said the private sector must start playing an active role to fight corruption in the country.
She praised the baseline survey by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) on improving business integrity in Ghana. “Local and international firms operating in the country must apply best international practices that make them have competitive advantage,” she said.
The primary objective of GACC survey was to identify the internal mechanisms corporate entities in Ghana have devised and deployed to check and address corruption, and ensure a business sector founded on solid ideals of transparency and accountability.
According to the findings of the survey, companies were asked whether it is a good idea to accept independent external assessment of progress in instituting transparency and accountability: two-thirds of all companies thought it was a good idea while a third said no.
The report indicated that companies which rejected independent assessment maintain that their own internal assessment mechanisms are working effectively.
The majority who favour independent assessment claimed that it would be more objective – keep companies on their toes and enjoy public trust and confidence.
When asked of their motivation for producing a code of conduct or ethics and related policies, the most popular response was primarily to ensure good corporate governance and also as a sign of commitment to the fight against corruption.
The third reason, said the report, was that it is a fulfilment of legal requirements in the countries where corporate headquarters are located.
Effective enforcement of monitoring was a major focus of the survey. It turned out that three-quarters of all companies have established desk-officers to monitor compliance whilst others have fraud prevention officers, compliance officers and a financial crimes unit.
Following enforcement is how companies handle corrupt acts and violations of these internal rules and regulations.
“In most companies, when an employee is found in violation of corporate codes of conduct or ethics, the initial response is suspension and investigation followed by termination/dismissal if guilt is proven,” said the report.
The report added: “In some serious cases, companies prefer to refer culprits to the police for criminal investigation and prosecution.”
By Michael Sarpong BRUCE
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