The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), working on anti-corruption and good governance issues have called on President Akufo Addo to ensure that the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has adequate funding for the first crucial year of operations.
They further urged the President to expedite action on the formation of the new OSP board to allow the Office to recruit its staff in accordance with the OSP Act 2017 (Act 959).
This came to light when the CSOs met with the Special Prosecutor (SP), Mr. Kissi Agyebeng, at the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) at Ridge in Accra.
The meeting, was to deliberate on how best the OSP can work with CSOs to engender public space where corruption is a high risk and low reward activity.
At the meeting, the SP laid out his vision for the Office which included focusing on corruption prevention activities targeted at addressing issues such as gift-giving, developing and preparing integrity plans for public agencies, conducting corruption risk assessments for major financial transactions, production of a manual to guide citizens on the operations of the Office and the launch of a flagship tool to track the progress of institutions called the Corruption League Table.
The vision of SP, also focused strongly on asset recovery, use of plea bargaining, and prosecution, backed by good forensic work and investigations.
The CSOs commended the SP for the Office’s effort to communicate and engage with citizens through the media and online platforms and recommended that, the activity be extended to the regions to help educate Ghanaians on the work of the OSP.
The CSOs observed that, the OSP has moved into a new ten-story building at Ridge although it was currently occupying one floor as the OSP, it is yet to retrofit the rest of the floors, recruit the necessary staff and set up the Office fully.
They commended government for providing the OSP with the appropriate space to set up its operations but added that, there is still a lot to do for the OSP to be fully operational to pursue all its functions.
“We are dismayed to hear that of the GHS 1.2 billion that was budgeted for capital and recurrent expenditure, only GHS 80 million was allocated for the 2022 financial year representing only 6.6% of what was requested. This is far below what was even allocated by government in the 2018 financial year for the setting up of the Office, although the money was never accessed. We acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on government resources and there are many essential competing needs”.
The CSOs however, urged the government to do its best to ensure that the OSP is able to get off the ground so that, it can do its important integrity building and anti-corruption work saying, it is an agenda that the President and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have identified as a key development priority if Ghana is to transform and go beyond aid.
Corruption the CSOs noted, remains a serious challenge in Ghana and appealed to all key investigative and prosecutorial agencies to come on board to ensure effectively work to help the country achieve its objectives. “We remain resolute in our commitment to promote integrity in public life and we assure the OSP of our unflinching support,” they pledged.