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Nana Addo says govt is working on law on conduct of public officers

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced that the government is working on enacting legislation on the Conduct of Public Officers.

To that end, the Attorney General has undertaken various stakeholder consultations with a number of public sector organisations, civil society and other interest groups.

The President made the announcement yesterday at the 2023 Bar Conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), in Cape Coast, in the Central Region.

He said the legislation would follow the examples in other jurisdictions like the United States Ethics in Government Act of 1978, the Public Officers Ethics Act of Kenya of 2003, and the U.K. Constitutional and Governance Act of 2010, in addressing issues regarding financial portfolios held by public officers before assuming public office.

It would also address public officer’s links to family business, improper enrichment, care of public property, professional practices, property, investments/shareholdings and other assets, self-dealing, partiality in the performance of duties, use of public or confidential information to further private interest, amongst others.

“The Bill will provide a gamut of stringent administrative measures and sanctions to deal with violations of the law, ranging from a bar against holding public office for limited and indefinite periods, to penal measures.

“The Bill will also seek to strengthen the role of CHRAJ in the investigation of allegations of contravention of or non-compliance with the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, including conflict of interest, non-declaration of assets, and illicit enrichment. The Attorney General will bring the Bill soon for the consideration of Cabinet and subsequent enactment by Parliament, upon the conclusion of his consultations, “the President said

President Akufo-Addo assured the gathering that the fight to enhance standards and integrity in public life would continue under his government.

“We will enforce the law, no matter who is affected because it is a necessary foundation for the successful fight against corruption, and for guaranteeing integrity in public life.

“The law must truly be no respecter of persons,” he added.

While the Constitution generally prohibits conflict of interest, the framers apparently left it to the wisdom of Parliament to particularise what Ghana would consider as prohibited conduct.

This is what is currently lacking, and we are faced with the abject failure by successive Governments and Parliament to ensure the enactment of a law that will provide us with the necessary details of prohibited conduct.

‘Nature,’ it is said, ‘abhors a vacuum; but our political class love vacuums because they thrive in the uncertainty, either to exploit the situation or throw allegations at each other.

Although the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice has produced the 2006 Guidelines on Conflict of Interest, those Guidelines do not have the force of law, and do not appear to apply until a report is made to CHRAJ for investigations.

After almost 30 years of the coming into force of this Constitution, we finally have a Draft Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2022, which attempts to set down the specific instances that would be caught under the general prohibition.

We do not want to believe that Cabinet is either reluctant to approve this Bill or pussyfooting around it.

On 29 May 2022, OccupyGhana issued a Press Release demanding that the President summons an emergency cabinet meeting for the sole purpose of approving the draft Bill.

The Pressure Group also asked the Attorney-General to provide a clear timeline on when he will submit the Bill to Parliament for passage.

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