By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

?The government?s order banning the use of??? state funds to buy hampers for distribution during Christmas and other festivities has taken the nation by storm. Some notable personalities who wish the nation well consider the order by the President as a good policy that would lead to reducing needless expenditure of public funds.

hampersA leading anti corruption activist Mr Vitus Azeem of Ghana Integrity Initiative in? ?welcoming? the order? called on the government to endeavor to ?implement the directive? and? ?advised ??Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) involved ?to desist from using state funds to purchase hampers for individuals and institutions during the yuletide.

He went on to suggest that a body be instituted to monitor the implementation of the policy ??otherwise the order might not be obeyed.

The exchange of gifts is normal in Ghana in accordance with our customs traditions and religious teachings. During Christmas and other traditional and religious festivities Ghanaians exchange gifts such as soft drinks food and other items. However this is done by the individuals, clans and traditional authorities using their own internally generated funds.

Private organizations some of which follow our colonial business legacies are also known to have also raised the bar of gifts by providing their business partners with gifts that go beyond food and drinks to motor bikes, cars and houses.?? This appears to be a normal convention. However?? the private businessmen and women must do so with care by working within the agreed remit of the law to avoid being seen as using such huge gifts to influence their business partners especially those in government offices.

If private individuals and organizations have the luxury of exchanging gifts during festivities this should not be done by government establishments that rely on monies in the nation?s coffers that is not enough to meet the needs of the nation. All those organizations that are involved in the practice of giving out hampers are among those that are not given enough funds for their services to the state. The government has gone with ?cup in hand? for funds outside Ghana to fill the holes in the budgets of those organizations.

We have been informed by a policy Think Tank that the directive by the president is likely to save the nation a whopping eleven million Ghana cedis GHS11m.

The? organization known as the ?Centre for Policy Research (CPR) says their study on state institutions in the country reveals that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as quasi-independent state institutions ?spend on the average Gh?30,000 of the tax payers money to buy hampers for board members, senior executives and some officials of their partner institutions.

As indicated earlier this move by government would bring us huge savings that could be directed into other areas like education, health and sanitation. As a nation that relies on donors to cushion our budgetary allocations, the symbolic move might also win for the nation sympathy and support.

Though the order has gained general acceptance there are those who think it has come a little too late in the year when many state organizations might have placed orders for gift items already. In view of this government has a responsibility to institute a check on this to deal with any problem arising out of the situation.

All those affected by the order must accept it in good faith in order for us to save our hard earned monies that otherwise is spent on expensive hampers. I believe that all of us can do with modest or no hampers during our festivities by relying on biscuits soft drinks and food that we exchange during festivities.

By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Executive Director

eanfoworld for sustainable development

0244 370345/ 0264370345/0208844791????? [email protected]/[email protected]




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