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Corruption in Ghana: Causes and Suggestions for A Corrupt-Free Society

Since independence in 1957, Ghanaians have been plagued with corruption by which I mean taking what is not yours in an official capacity. Corruption can simply be peddling influence for monetary gains that is not gained meritoriously. Corruption can be demanding payment for services you render to people in an official government capacity.

Corruption can be outright demand for bribe, gift, largesse or what is commonly referred to as “greasing the palm, brown envelope, or gorro for the boys” All post-independence leaders in Ghana have had to deal with corruption as a national problem. One can also argue that all military coups in Ghana have cited corruption as the justification for their overthrow of the government. So why is corruption so pervasive in Ghana?

Though one can adduce several reasons, a few are worth examining and these are:

The Ghanaian culture of “Giving Thanks and Appreciation” for services rendered is chiefly to blame for corruption in Ghana. Sociologically, it is showing gratitude which must be welcomed and encouraged but a simple thank you verbally is recommended instead of what pertains to today that encourages corruption.

Poor Pay of Civil Servants and Government Employees.

A senior civil servant lamented that his take-home salary does not do much and hence he is forced to ask for cash gifts when he renders services to people. In this regard does it mean that when you refuse to pay you are not offered the required services? Invariably that is usually the case with what is called “Go Come” A system of delay tactics employed by civil servants to solicit monetary benefits. In this case if you fail to pay your file or work is never appropriately worked on. Will a new civil service pay structure help stem the tide of corruption in Ghana? I doubt that a better pay scale will encourage people to stop demanding bribes. In my view the enforcement of workplace ethics and anti-kickback laws should be put in place and rigidly enforced. Assets Declarations have not worked in Ghana and I believe a better system must be designed to encourage compliance.

A Way of Life and an Acceptable Tradition

Another argument is that the Ghanaian culture allows corruption in many forms. For example, many proverbs in Ghana state that “everyone benefits from their workplaces” The society brands you a fool if you fail to participate in corrupt schemes at your workplace. Workplace leadership should through organizational learning encourage workers to understand that what is meant by the proverb is metaphorical and not literally permissible. Workers should understand that the benefits here are the bottom-line for the organization meant to carry out its mandates to the society.

Respect for Wealth.

Ghanaians fail to question how the wealthy and famous got rich and hence tends to respect and adore the rich and famous in the society so there is that inherent pressure from family members to be rich regardless of the source of the wealth, whether genuine or dubious. Whereas we must encourage entrepreneurship, all workers in both government and private services should file income taxes at the end of the year to enable the Tax authorities’ access and determine the taxes paid and owed the central government. We should not witch hunt those who have acquired their wealth legally, but everyone knows that you cannot be a millionaire in government employment without being corrupt. This will serve as a check on corrupt practices.

Failure to Prosecute.

Oftentimes and sadly so rampant, Ghanaians are not prosecuted for corruption but dismissed by their employers. The failure to prosecute embolden others to participate in corrupt practices. In instances where corrupt persons are prosecuted, the sentences meted out do not serve as a deterrent for others. After serving, some go back to the same organizations and engage in more egregious practices.

It is Government Money.

Ghanaians believe the government is detached from their personal actions. They generally do not understand that they are part and parcel of government and every citizen is collectively the government. Hence, pilfering, stealing, under invoicing, over invoicing are all on the “Government” and corruption does not affect them but the government. It is Government Money, and they justify their actions erroneously without realizing that their small actions result in negative consequences for the overall wellbeing of the country. Perhaps a reeducation in civic responsibilities can curb corruption.

Steps Recommended for Promoting Compliance and Preventing Corruption in Ghana:

·Establish an Office of Ethics and Compliance Education in every workplace with more than 5 workers that render services to the general public and receive government assistance in various forms.

·Establish and maintain policies and procedures to prevent and detect fraud, abuse, neglect, and waste in the administration of your organization.

·Establish and maintain internal controls of program operations to promote and realize the efficient management and monitoring of applicable regulations, rules, laws, requirements, and policies.

·Establish a mechanism within the organization which promotes self-monitoring, detection, reporting, and resolution of compliance issues. Minimize through early detection and reporting loss due to false claims. Promote ethical and legal conduct in the workplace.

·Recommend appropriate disciplinary actions to supervisors for non-compliance conduct by any employee. For example, establish a timecard system electronic or paper to ensure that people show up and work their respective hours and perform their assigned tasks associated with their roles. This will ensure that “ghost” hours are eliminated. Institute measures to ensure that everyone regardless of employment status uses a timecard.

·Review periodically compliance policies and regulations to reflect current needs and recommend all employees annually participate in compliance training and education. (Ethics and Anti-Kickback Laws).

·Establish a system to report where conflicts of interests do occur. For example, do not supply merchandise to your organization or recommend a contractor for the supply of water when you are a shareholder of the business that won the contract. Or maybe YOU awarded the contract.

·Enforcement. Establish a system for enforcement where compliance policies are violated. At initial employment onboarding and thereafter train and educate using the professional conduct handbook of your organization.

The Ghana Civil Service was modelled on that of Great Britain and there is no reason why we cannot stamp out corruption. I believe that an efficient civil service drives and promotes efficiency in all walks of life. The rules and regulations are in the Books. We have failed to apply them. There is no excuse as citizens. That is responsible citizenship. A corrupt society is a failed nation.

Source: Dr. Augustine Amenyah (modernghana.com)

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