“My government has fought and is fighting corruption not just in high-sounding words, but, actually, in concrete deeds. We have shunned mere exhortations and showy denunciations of unproved corruption. It has been a holistic approach. We have made institutional reforms, we have enacted additional, requisite laws, and we have resourced more adequately the accountability organs of state. Our fight against corruption has been grounded on legislative, financial and institutional action, and not on mere lip-service.”
These were the words of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Monday, 11th September 2023, when he delivered an address at the 2023 Bar Conference of the Ghana Bar Association, in Cape Coast.
Delivering his address, President Akufo-Addo stated that it is also an undeniable fact that budgetary allocations for institutions actively engaged in public sector accountability, i.e., the Office of the Auditor-General, the Judiciary, Parliament, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Ghana Police Service, the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO), and the Financial Intelligence Centre, have witnessed unprecedented increases since he assumed office in 2017.
“At the end of 2022, the budgetary allocation to Parliament witnessed a one hundred percent (100%) increase, compared to what I inherited in 2016; the Police saw its budget increase by two hundred and seventy-four percent (274%) at the end of 2022, in comparison to 2016; the Audit Service recorded a two hundred and fifty-eight percent (258%) rise in its budgetary allocation at the end of 2022, as compared to 2016,” he said.
The President continued, “the budget of the Judiciary rose by thirty-six percent (36%) at the end of 2022, compared to 2016; the budget of the Office of the Attorney-General increased by one hundred and sixty-two percent (162%) at the end of 2022, compared to 2016; the budget of EOCO increased by forty-seven percent (47%) at the end of 2022, in comparison to 2016; the budget of the Financial Intelligence Centre increased by four hundred and forty-three percent (443%), compared to 2016; whilst the budget of CHRAJ increased by ninety-nine percent (99%) at the end of 2022, compared to 2016.”
These figures, President Akufo-Addo said, reflect his resolve to ensure that institutions of state of relevance in the anti-corruption agendum are properly equipped to discharge satisfactorily the mandate of their offices.
In the area of investigations and prosecution of corruption and corruption related offences, he stated that a distinct innovation was undertaken by his administration in 2017, with the decision to set up an Office of Special Prosecutor, through the passage of the Office of Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959).
The establishment of the Office of Special Prosecutor, according to President Akufo-Addo, represents the most courageous measure by any government in the 4th Republic, to prosecute corruption in the executive arm of government.
“The monopoly of prosecutorial authority by an Attorney-General, hired or fired by a President, had been identified by some as a key factor allegedly standing in the way of law enforcement and prosecution as a credible tool in the fight against corruption before 2017,” the President said.
Even though the President appoints the Special Prosecutor, he stated that the President cannot, unilaterally, unlike in the case of the Attorney General, remove the Special Prosecutor from office.
Article 15 of Act 959, he explained, vests the power to remove the Special Prosecutor in a Committee established by the Chief Justice, with the President acting only in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee, adding that “his or her independence of the President is, thereby, assured.”
Touching on the assets declaration regime as a tool of fighting corruption, the President stated that it is a constitutional requirement which has been fulfilled by virtually all officials of both his administrations.
“I am, however, of the candid opinion that existing legislation on corruption, relating to the conduct of public officers in Ghana, appears to be inadequate to deal extensively with public office accountability. The need to lay down a set of far-reaching and a more fit for purpose set of regulations for the conduct of public officers, which will give effect to the provisions of Chapter 24 of the Constitution on Conduct of Public Officers, is, in my view, now self-evident,” he added.