According to the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, notwithstanding Ghana’s gains in democratic governance and economic development, higher levels of corruption persist, especially in the public sector.

The coalition has revealed that, for more than 10 years, Ghana has scored below 5.0 out of a maximum 10.0 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). A score below 50 out of 100 signals “serious levels of corruption in the public sector”.

To address this, government developed the maiden National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) in 2012 which recognizes public, private and CSOs stakeholders as partners in Ghana’s fight against corruption. NACAP was adopted by Parliament in July, 2014.

Civil society organizations working in the governance sector have had their own limitations regarding their capacity and willingness to provide a platform that promote demand-side accountability for reduced corruption.

Against this backdrop, the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has started implementing a STAR Ghana funded project on “Facilitating CSOs engagement with Government (the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary) for responsive governance”.

According to GACC, the overall objective of the project was to make government more accountable by creating a sustainable civil society platforms to engage government.

As part of activities in implementing the project, GACC organized regional dialogues on anti-corruption and decentralization as well as engagement with the respective arms of government in the fight against corruption in Ghana.

Speaking at the national feedback, learning and sharing forum on the Facilitating CSOs Engagement with Government Project which took place at the African Regent Hotel, on Thursday 29th November, 2018, in Accra, Dr. Eric Oduro-Osae, Local Government expert, expressed in his reamerks that effective and efficient decentralization was key to Ghana’s sustainable development. Hence corruption should not only be tackled at the national level but equally at the sub-national level.

He indicating that, the big corruption deals really occurs at the sub-national level and this was evident in the Auditor General’s reports. He indicated the framers of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution were mindful not to overly centralize public administration since it had the potential of deepening corruption.

Hence Article 240 of Ghana’s constitution makes decentralization of public administration mandatory and entrenched. In engaging the three (3) arms of government on how to effectively resort to decentralization as a tool to curb, reduce and manage corruption, it would be appropriate to assess the obligations imposed on them (i.e. the three arms of government) under Article 240 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution.

By way of decentralization, it requires of us to ensure that the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary activities are effectively decentralized so that we can have good governance being brought down to the people at the regional and local levels.

He however, mentioned that “Thankfully Ghana’s National Decentralization policy seeks to operationalize the provisions under Article 240. Dr. Osae was of the view the policy is expected to be implemented alongside the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) so as to ensure the menace is tackled national, regional and sub-national levels.”

In his statement, Dr. Franklin Oduro, deputy Director of CDD-Ghana, recounted series of national CSOs engagement with the Presidency immediate past and present on key national issues of governance and sustainable development.

He stated that such platforms offered CSOs the opportunity to know government’s thinking and challenges regarding certain national issues, which informed civil society advocacy strategies.

He was of the conviction that such interaction and other behind-the-scenes engagement/meetings with public institutions and officials yields much results as compared to just merely shouting or hitting the streets without being privy to the thinking and challenges of such agencies and officials.

In scaling up the engagement to include the other arms of government (i.e. Parliament and Judiciary), the STAR-Ghana funded project on facilitating CSOs engagement with government for responsiveness comes in handy.

He cautioned that the Executive arm of government should not be limited to only the Presidency but rather should include all other national and decentralized agencies such as the Ghana Police Service, Audit Service, CHRAJ among others.

He hinted the maiden national CSOs stakeholder engagement will be complimented with other regional engagements to ensure a holistic approach in engaging with the arms of government on anti-corruption particularly, due to the myriad sectors in which respective CSOs operate in Ghana.

Ms. Sabah Teiko, Head of Programmes at STAR-Ghana, however commended GACC for embarking on such a project that seeks to facilitate how state actors responds to the work of CSOs.

According to her, the initiative fits directly into STAR-Ghana’s overall objective of state actors/institutions being responsive to an informed citizenry.

Ms. Sabah expressed that STAR Ghana’s expectation of the project borders on how it conceptualizes responsiveness. Thus what really works in engaging with the respective arms of government as per their level of responsiveness and how such lessons could be replicated by other partners to engage on particular advocacy issues.

In attendance were prof. Kwame Karikari, Dean of School of Communication Studies, Wisconsin International University, Mr. Vitus Azeem,an anti-corruption crusader, Kwasi Boateng Assumeng, programmes officer, GACC,other stakeholders, CSOs and many more.

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