After boldly declaring to the BBC in an interview that he has never accepted a bribe, President John Dramani Mahama further stated that, unlike his predecessors who felt exposing corruption would bring down their governments; his administration is fighting the canker head-on.
President Mahama, who was speaking to the BBC on the side-lines of the Anti-corruption Summit ongoing in London, said dealing with corruption in Ghana which has a high perception of the canker, is an uphill task.
“You know corruption is not ended. It’s a tough fight. We have an uphill battle but we need a partnership of the willing to be able to do it. In a country like ours, you have a heightened perception of corruption because people are able to discuss it more freely but to move the next step where you expose it, investigate and sanction it, then you need evidence to bring it before a judge or something like that; and that’s what we are doing.
I’ve the political will to fight corruption.”
According to President Mahama, his actions over the years clearly show a political will to tackle the canker.
“I have expressed the political will and I have said that if corruption is brought to my attention I will let the appropriate organisation investigate it and if we find evidence that somebody has been corrupt we will deal with them. And that’s why you have cases taking place under my government that have been investigated. It would not have been the same in previous regimes. There have been previous regimes where the leader; people have said that they will not investigate corruption and bring down their government. I have not taken that attitude; I have said if allegations are made we will investigate them and those found culpable will be dealt with.”
“…And that’s why 165 people have lost their job at the National Service, 35 people are before the courts currently for putting ghost names in the national service pay roll, that’s why we’ve pursued people to take back money they took illegally and so it’s an uphill task but we will continue to fight.”
Sole sourcing of contracts
On allegations that government is abusing the sole sourcing provision under the procurement Act, the President said, “One of the things we’ve tried to do in Ghana is to put in regulations under the procurement act. I do believe that we have reached a stage where we have put in too much regulations that it rather creates opportunities for people to want to bribe people. There are circumstances under which sole-sourcing is permitted. I have given a directive that every contract that is sole-sourced must be subjected to value for money so that the people of Ghana do not lose out.”
The President after admitting that there are challenges with the procurement system said his administration is seeking to improve it by relying more on technology.
“I think we need to look at the Procurement Act again; we need to simplify the procedures but make them more transparent. There are ideas about open contracts where you can go online and see the bids which are done in real time. I think we should throw more technology in rather than legislate some more laws. We are picking up a lot of ideas on of best practices across the world which we must look at and improve our own situation.”