Oversight role of asset declaration shouldn’t be a function of the Auditor General – Domelevo
Former Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, has said that the Auditor General should not be in charge of overseeing asset declaration done by public office holders.
He suggested that the Auditor General should be made to focus on its core function which is auditing.
Although he says it is going to be a tall order, he wants Act 550 of the Constitution which mandates the Auditor General to oversee asset declaration to be changed to take away that mandate.
“The Act 550 is entrenched so modifying it is going to be a tall order or expensive order,” he said while speaking at a national dialogue session on ‘Public sector corruption, publishing of assets” organized by Media General on Thursday, October 12.
“Asset declaration should not be the mandate of the Auditor General as it is now under the Act, he stressed.
For his part, the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal described the passage of Act 550 which is the Public Officers Qualifications and Disqualification Asset Declaration Act, as a shoddy job done by Ghana’s Parliament in 1998 under the Rawlings administration.
He explained that the Act, in its form, takes public office holders away from the people they are supposed to account to.
Speaking at the same forum, Mr Whittal said “You have asset declarations as one of the codes of conduct that the constitution has made provisions for, we will have a conflict of interest and also the importance of oath swearing and its effect. if you look at, since the 1992 Constitution came, Chapter Chapter 24 only gave a skeletal outline of what is required to be done.
“The nearest we came to is passing Act 550 which is the Public Officers Qualifications and Disqualification Asset Declaration Act. That I think was a shoddy job done by parliament, with all respect to Parliament, it was a shoddy job at that time.
“If you look at what should be in asset declaration law, what is provided there it is as if we are taking public service as a process we want to hide public servants from the people they are supposed to serve.”
Stakeholders have been calling for the assets that are declared by public officer holders to be published
For instance, Miss Mary Awelana Addah, Acting Executive Director, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), called for the verification and publication of declared assets to ensure a robust asset declaration regime.
“We are calling for an asset declaration regime that is robust enough to add on the issues of verification and publication. Even during the dictatorial regime, we had an asset declaration regime that took care of verification and publication of assets.”
“…If in the 80s we were able to have such a robust asset declaration regime, it is surprising that in a democracy we have decided to make things so cheap that people declare their assets and until something happens, we don’t bother looking into it,” she said.
She made the call on Saturday during a discussion on an Accra-based television station on the topic, “CECE DAPAAH $1M: Lifestyle Audit, Money Laundering, Code of Conduct Bill”.
Ms Addah called on Parliament to expedite action on the passage of the Conduct of Public Officers (COPO) Bill into law to address corruption amongst public officers.
“We can make some very good strides if we have laws that bark. The bill which is currently stranded in Parliament should become an urgent matter for the State to pay attention to,” she said.
She said the Office of the Special Prosecutor should be given the support and allowed to work independently to investigate Madam Cecilia Dapaah and her “stolen cash” case.
“Without a doubt, the Special Prosecutor has shown over the years that if given the needed independence, he can do a good job.”