The U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie Sullivan, has made a strong case for Ghana to take her corruption fight to levels where people caught indulging in the practice face heavy sanctions.
According to Stephanie Sullivan, the high perception of corruption among state institutions has the potential to affect the business confidence of investors.
The Transparency International (TI) in January this year, ranked Ghana 78 out of 180 countries on the 2018 global Corruption Perception Index (CPI). According to the report, Ghana scored 41 out of a possible clean score of 100, with the score showing that Ghana’s performance had improved by one point from its 2017 score of 40.
While several factors including policies and initiatives by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) have been alleged to account for this improvement, some Ghanaians maintain government is losing the fight on the ground.
Speaking at a public forum on the “Cost of corruption in Ghana - deliberations for remedy”, the Ambassador urged authorities to crack the whip and punish corrupt persons to restore confidence in the system.
“Corruption is not a victimless crime, it actually involves stealing directly from people. Globally, corruption cost 5% of GDP, it increases the cost of doing business and reduces investment in countries perceived to be generally corrupt. Under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, American companies are forbidden from engaging in bribery and corruption under penalty of our laws which are vigorously enforced.
“West Africa loses 1.95 billion US dollars each year in the illicit trading in fisheries and other marine resources alone. On top of that, illegal mining, logging and wildlife trafficking cause nations and citizens even more.
“As we discuss this in small groups following this encounter, we ask Ghanaians not to admire the problem but to deliberate on what is working well, what can be strengthened and how and what additional actionable measures can be put in place going forward.”
Backing the call by the U.S. Ambassador, the Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Ron Strikker, advocated the use of investigative journalism as a key tool to unearthing corruption.
“Investigative journalism really helps. I see this in my own country where it's not always only corruption that is targeted but mismanagement of funds. Journalists investigating may take time and of course, it takes a lot of effort but it is important that something come to the light. We all know corruption does not like or accept light, doesn’t like transparency so if journalists come to the point to investigate issues and bring things to the forefront, it will really help in the fight,” Ron Strikker concluded.