Nana Addo’s assets declaration was initially hindered by irregularities at the Auditor General’s department…
It would appear unlikely that the President of a country, who willingly wishes to declare his assets, is experiencing some constraints at the designated organization responsible for the smooth run of the exercise. However, after all the hitches that greeted Nana Addo’s assets declaration, the President has succeeded in carrying out the exercise. The new President who is bent on fulfilling his constitutional obligation, finally declared his assets on Tuesday, January 24, at the Auditor General’s office.
On several occasions, public office holders have been criticized for disregarding the law on assets declaration. But President Akufo-Addo who has on his topmost priority, a fight against corruption, would want to lead by the example of being transparent and accountable to the citizenry.
The Auditor General’s Department and Unbelievable Shortfalls
The Auditor General’s department is the monitoring and accountability organ of the state whose responsibility is to audit the accounts of Ghana’s public offices and office holders. The AG’s department has a mandate to promote transparency and accountability in the country’s governance system, to help deal with corruption.
But how would one believe that the body responsible for this duty [that is so important as to be enshrined in the constitution], will be lacking the most basic tools without which it cannot work? Well, no matter how strange it sounds; that is the condition of Ghana’s Auditor General Office!
President Nana Addo was at the office of the AG to declare his assets as demanded by the constitution on Monday, January 23, 2017. But Nana Addo’s assets declaration attempt was halted because the department had no receipt booklets. A presidential staffer who interacted with officials of the Auditor General’s Department on behalf of the President, said he was told that the receipts, which are issued as proof of assets declaration have run out. He also said they were unsure if some would be made available sooner than later.
Worse still, it was gathered that when the President’s staffer asked the AG’s officials to notify the president when the receipts are available, he was told that the landline phones at the Department are not functioning, hence no means of placing the calls. Close sources revealed that the President was utterly disappointed and appalled upon discovering that the AG’s department had been ill-equipped to such level.
Meanwhile, the AG’s officials were not aware that the inquiries were actually coming from the president. Who knows? This may even be the reason why they told the plain truth about the state of affairs at the office.
It is not a Fresh Problem
The above hitches which initially hindered Nana Addo’s assets declaration at the AG’s department, is only one of the many irregularities found in the public sector system as well as other government parastatals.
Vice President of the country, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia also experienced a similar thing during his recent visit to the AG’s department. Ghana’s Veep who interacted with Ghanaians who were at the department to register their businesses, discovered that there is a problem of bureaucracy in the public sector system. According to reports, many businesses have been frustrated with rigorous bureaucratic processes in registering their establishments at the AG’s Department.
Questions have been raised regarding possible actions to be taken against the leadership of the Department. However situations such as these show that there’s very little importance attached to the exercise.
Calls for Revision of the Assets Declaration Act
The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), a civil society organisation, has called for a revision of the Assets declaration Act. They are requesting that the Parliament makes it compulsory, to verify and publish for public assessment, all declared assets of public office holders. This is to enable members of the public to report all newly acquired assets that were left undeclared by the government official in question; probably because they were acquired through foul means.
According to the GII, the law in its present state is almost useless, since the public cannot react to the declared assets as they have no assess to them.