Touted as the engine of economic growth, the private sector has been admonished to help fight corruption by reporting suspicious business transactions to the security agencies for action to be taken against them.
The sector has also been advised to ensure due diligence in complying with their tax obligations to avoid security official coming after them.
Mr K.K. Amoah, Executive Director of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), gave the advice at a multi-stakeholder business integrity breakfast meeting in Accra on Wednesday organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the Private Enterprises Foundation (PEF) as part of activities to climax the anti- corruption week commemoration.
The event brought together private sector businesses, civil society organizations and the public sector to discuss the role of the private sector in the fight against corruption.
The gathering also sought to among others create an avenue for the business sector to highlight their contributions to the fight against corruption and to elicit appropriate state institutions’ responses and agree on means of addressing identified challenges.
Corruption has been identified as the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world. Every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5% percent of the global GDP. According to the United Nations Development Programme, funds lost to corruption by developing countries are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.
Mr Amoah who delivered a key note address submitted that most countries that had fought corruption successfully achieved their goal through effective collaboration between the security agencies and the private sector. .
Do not cheat the state, he said, adding, “when you do not file your tax returns, EOCO and GRA will come after you and when we do, you will not feel comfortable at all.”
The EOCO boss emphasized the need for the country to inculcate in its children the values of truthfulness, honesty and law abiding, so that they would grow with them to become good citizens.
He added that parent must teach their children the slogan. “If it is not for you don’t take it.” That he said, would put some fear in them to depart from corrupt acts when they grow up.
Mr Amoah disclosed at the meeting that his outfit had recovered in excess of GHC51 million of taxes owed to the state by some private companies, institutions and individuals.
The amount, according to him, was recovered over a period of one-and-a-half years and has been lodged in the accounts of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Mrs Linda Ofori-Kwafo, Executive Director of GII, called on government to resource anti- corruption agencies in the country to enable them execute their mandate effectively.
Mrs Ofori-Kwafo said although most private companies had codes of conduct that guided their activities, implementation was a problem.
“Although most of these companies have beautiful codes of conduct, it is very difficult to adhere to them because of the system where public officials demand money,” she noted.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the PEF, Nana Osei Bonsu, emphasised the need to put integrity in the governance system to be able to fight corruption, adding that,“you need to have integrity in order not to succumb to demands.”
He urged the private sector not to succumb to the demands but rather report public officials who demanded bribe to the law enforcement agencies to take action against them.
Participants were unanimous that the anti- corruption laws in the country are good, but citizens, particularly public officials must change their attitudes if corruption is to be eliminated completely from the system.
By Mohammed Suleman