“We like what is being said about increasing transparency, fighting corruption,and improving ease of doing business in Ghana. American companies are excited about the possibilities. But we would like to see action and tangible results.” U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson appeals to government to move beyond rhetoric in fighting corruption.
He was speaking at a luncheon meeting organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ghana to mark World Anti Corruption Day at the Fiesta Royale Hotel in Accra, on Wednesday December 6, 2017. This year’s topic was, “Improving Public Procurement to Minimize Corruption.
Ambassador Jackson in his remark also called on the government to take more actions in their fight against corruption, and hold perpetrators accountable.”We’d like to see people held accountable when they break the law”, he said. The ambassador went to ask government to take additional steps to increase transparency in public procurement, so that Ghanaians can get best value and highest –quality service.
He also stated the readiness of the United States to work with the Ghanaian Government to achieve this aim, noting the three-day interactive workshop organized in June for staff of the Public Procurement Authority. “That’s not just talk. For example in June, we hosted a former Georgetown University law professor who specializes in public procurement reform in developing countries. He conducted a three-day interactive workshop with staff of the Public Procurement Authority.”
According to the ambassador, the U.S. is open to additional ideas for how to work together to increase transparency. A transparent public procurement process he said will attract companies and investors, facilitate more efficient spending of public funds and ensure citizens receive better infrastructure and services.
The speech read on behalf of the CEO of the Public Procurement Authority by Mr. Eric Appiah – Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at the PPA, wasn’t shy to admit corruption in the public procurement process. “This notwithstanding, the practice of public procurement is saddled with very unfortunate statistics of corruption.”
It was reported that, about two-thirds of bribery cases occur in sectors closely associated with contracts or licensing through public procurement: the extractive, construction, transportation, storage and information & communication sectors.
The speech went on to say it is difficult to measure the exact cost of corruption due to its hidden nature, but stated that, the actual cost of corruption in public procurement is paid through badly constructed roads and supply of fake drugs among others. “Indeed, corruption in public procurement costs lives!” he added.
On the issue of using public procurement to minimize corruption, he stated that, the current government under the leadership of President Nana Akufo Addo has instituted measures such as, the establishment of Public Procurement as a Ministry, headed by the Honorable Minister for Procurement, Honorable Sarah Adwoa Sarfo and Office of the Special Prosecutor to augment efforts at stemming the tides of corruption in the country.
He also made mention that the PPA itself has also undertaken a number of initiatives in recent times to improve upon public procurement processes, in order to curb or minimize corrupt practices.
These measures include Electronic Public Procurement (e-GP) system, Unit Cost of Infrastructure Budget Estimator Tool, which he said is designed to eliminate the risks associated with unrealistic budget estimates and the launch of a Procurement Practitioners Code of Ethics that will guide the activities of procurement practitioners and help maintain a high standard of integrity.
Mr. Appiah also talked about two purpose driven operational units established by the authority to enhance credibility. “I am pleased to announce to you, that with the appointment of its current Chief Executive, the PPA, has established two (2) purpose driven operational units to enhance the credibility of the Authority’s operations and processes. The Units are the Due Diligence/ Value for Money and the Procurement Audit Units.”
These initiatives he said has in the past Eight (8) months made savings to the tune of over GH₵120 Million to the Ghanaian economy, which otherwise would have been eroded through padded contracts sums and other procurement malpractices. Mr. Appiah further called on stakeholder to join the PPA in fighting corruption.
“I therefore call on all to unite and support the PPA and the Ministry of Public Procurement in their fight against corruption in order to Strengthen Ghana’s Democracy; Promote Justice; Support Education that will Bring Prosperity and Safeguard our Development efforts.”
The Minister of State in charge of Public Procurement, Hon. Sarah Adwoa Sarfo was expected to speak at this event, but could not make due to her unavailability. The event ended with a question and answer session, when member asked various question concerning the initiatives instituted by the Procurement Authority and made various suggestion as to how these initiatives can be made better.
U.S. Ambassador Robert P. Jackson also commended the American Chamber of Commerce for organizing these events stating that, “these events provide meaningful opportunities to begin a dialogue on some difficult topics. It’s a chance to advocate on behalf of American companies operating in Ghana.”