It has come to light that over 70% of judgment debts paid out by the state between 2000-2019 have been as a result of contract breaches, often following transitions from one political party to the other.
This was revealed at the launch of a report produced by the Centre for Social Justice, entitled “A 20-Year Review of Judgment Debt Payments in Ghana: Impact, Causes, and Remedies”.
The authors of the report identify 3 categories of judgment debts, those arising from contractual breaches by government and its agencies, those arising due to government failure to promptly pay compensation for land acquisitions, and judgment debts arising from alleged tortuous or statutory breaches by public officials in the course of their duties.
According to Dr. Theresah Mannah-Blankson, CSJ Fellow for Finance and Economy, a total of about GHc1.8 billion was paid in judgment debts between 2000-2019, “whiles staggering amounts have been awarded and remain to be paid” she said.
Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana who chaired the event, congratulated the Centre for Social Justice for undertaking such a detailed, historical and topical study. He noted that much of budgetary overspending has to do with the incidence of judgment debt payments.
Among others, the report calls for strict compliance with national procurement laws, increased legal scrutiny of contracts, and the reform of institutional arrangements in the execution of government business.
It also emphasized the need for better political transitions between governments.