The National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration led by President Nana Akufo-Addo is set to develop a beneficiary ownership regime to identify real owners of companies, as a strategic means to eradicate corruption in the country.
According to Vice-President, Mahamudu Bawumia who spoke at a forum in Accra, the regime which would cover the extraction sector to stamp out corruption and tax evasion had become necessary because the country risked losing out, as extractive assets might be misallocated for corrupt reasons.
During his speech on Beneficial Ownership Transparency, Dr Bawumia charged key stakeholders from civil society government, business and law enforcement to collaborate and progress plans on how to collect, share and use beneficial ownership information to tackle ownership.
He further explained that the beneficial ownership regime would provide a means that will enable government capture ownership of divested companies and industries bidding for contracts especially in the extractive industry. By so doing, government can curb situations where companies are given projects because their owners are politically connected, or are willing to engage in questionable deals aimed at generating quick profits.
The Vice President disclosed that about US$1.2 trillion is paid annually as bribe while poor countries around the world lose US$170 billion to tax evasions. This he said, impels government’s commitment to provide the needed resources to ensure the full implementation of Beneficiary Ownership and Contract Transparency, Transparency in Procurement Processes, among others.
However, Dr. Bawumia stressed that government must fulfill a number of international obligations in other to implement the beneficiary ownership regime and one instance is that the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Open Government Partnership and the Financial Intelligence Centre must be meet Beneficiary Ownership requirement deadlines.
“There is a huge financial implication to our already constraints fiscal space. But we will put in place an efficient Beneficiary Ownership regime. The identity and details of politically exposed persons and their families would be made accessible and the issue of security would be key,” he said.
Other strategies organized by government to fight corrupt is the consultative workshops for state and non-state actors in anti-corruption, the Right to Information law, the establishment of Special Prosecutor’s Office, and the amendment of the Criminal Code to make corruption a felony instead of misdemeanor would be pursued by the government this year.
Meanwhile, government has also set up a task force with the sole mandate of retrieving state assets unlawfully being held by individuals.
In a statement signed by the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, various agencies including the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Revenue Authority (Customs Division) the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), and the office of the President, will coordinate the location and retrieval of all such assets in the national interest.
The statement, therefore, urged individuals who are in possession of national assets – landed properties and vehicles, to take immediate steps to return them accordingly.
“Persons with state properties unlawfully in their possession should endeavor to contact the task-force and make arrangements to surrender same with immediate effect,” the statement reads.
It encourages the general public to provide information on any properties believed to be within the above-mentioned category to the task-force via “Task-force on Retrieval of State Assets, the CID Headquarters, Accra, on 0299012238.