The Tax Justice Coalition has expressed extreme concern about the appalling and reckless dissipation of scarce resources by public officials at the expense of the downtrodden, and wants the trend reversed immediately.
According to the Coalition, Ghana is said to be among the top 10 countries in Africa hemorrhaging resources that could transform the country for the majority of its citizens.
“We have noted with dismay, the ongoing reports and allegations of wanton abuse and misuse of public resources in the country, a phenomenon that aids illicit financial flows in Ghana. The wider illicit financial flows are a huge scourge on our sovereignty and we must be safeguarding public resources better than we are currently doing.”
The Coalition explained that the amount being lost through corrupt practices of public officials in recent times could provide Ghana with about 300 times more of the ‘Tema motorway’ throughout the country or give free education to 7.3 million secondary school students or could provide space for the over 500,000 Ghanaian children who are out of school each year and loitering on fringes of the cities.
These were contained in a statement signed by Mr Bernard Anaba, National Coordinator of the Tax Justice Coalition.
Outlining the reasons for its outrage, the Coalition stated that in recent times it had taken notice of the numerous allegations and counter allegations of misdeeds that bother on corruption, abuse of office and the facilitation of losses to the state, all of which are forms of illicit financial flows.
It said earlier in May this year, there was a headline news item on the National Communications Authority allegedly misappropriating state resources to the tune of $4 million. Also, the Minister for Lands and Natural resources, Hon. Peter Amewu told Journalists in Accra that, “in the year 2016, $2.3 billion worth of gold left this country through illicit mining.”
Furthermore, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) reportedly busted 12 boxes of gold bullion that weighed about 480kg at the Kotoka International Airport, valued at US$18 million. In addition, ISODEC, in a report launched in April 2017, noted that SINOPEC may have gotten away with much more than entitled to, from its dealings with Ghana because Parliament failed in its duty to scrutinise those contracts. Again, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) in April, 2017, noted that Ghana loses about $850 million annually in tax revenues from illegal fuel imports. The President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa -Akufo Addo recently revealed in the UK that there were many instances of losses at our ports through tax evasion with the connivance of Customs Officials, some of whom were being investigated.
In addition, the Coalion bemoaned that the BOST saga seems to have died already although it is clear that many Ghanaians are not satisfied with the government’s explanation. The current running issues at the Electoral Commission of Ghana, including the sale of vehicles to employees for peanuts, only add up to a litany of institutional lapses and disregard for laws that allow individuals and companies to loot state resources needed for development.
It maintained, “All of these point to a nation that is ‘bleeding!’, yet more than 500,000 of the country’s children are unable to enroll into primary school because the state is unable to provide adequate logistics and facilities for additional schools and children. It is welcome news that the government has indicated that it is going to prosecute former government officials who are found to have engaged in corrupt acts.
“The Tax Justice Coalition wonders why any investigation and prosecution of persons engaged in corruption should be limited to former government officials. The Coalition insists that corruption is corruption no matter who is involved and so any investigations and prosecution should cover all public officials no matter whether they are former or current government officials.”
It appealed, “We call on the Government to take a serious view of these issues, and where appropriate, lead a national crusade against the institutional lapses that give rise to corruption and abuse of office and dissipation of scarce state resources. The current issues must not die the natural deaths we are accustomed to, the outcomes of all the investigations must lead to deterrent actions open to public scrutiny and where people are accused wrongly, exonerated properly but where guilt is adduced, punished accordingly.”