President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the persistent engagement of some state officials and private individuals in acts of corruption is undermining the capacity of the country to control its own development.
It was for that reason, he said, that there was the urgent need for Ghana to win the fight against corruption at all cost.
“The fight against corruption is about ourselves; it is not so big a theoretical thing in the air. They (corrupt officials) are degrading our capacity to control our own development.
“To the extent that God gives me health and strength, I am going to do my best to make sure that the fight against corruption is won,” he said.
Addressing a section of the Ghanaian community in the United Kingdom (UK) at a public forum in London last Friday, the President expressed worry that donor support to the budgets of the ministries of Education, Health and Gender, Children and Social Protection in 2016 was equal to the revenue allegedly diverted by some 19 customs officials who were arrested recently.
The President and his entourage arrived at the Westminster Central Hall in London to a warm welcome.
Late May this year, the country’s law enforcement agencies reportedly cracked a syndicate of 19 people at the Tema Harbour, comprising customs officials and representatives of three clearing and freight forwarding agencies, who were allegedly responsible for the loss of some GH¢1.2 billion in revenue to the state.
Referring to statistics from the Ministry of Finance, President Akufo-Addo said the budget for the Ministry of Health in 2016 amounted to some GH¢2.9 billion.
Out of that amount, he said, GH¢743 million, representing 26 per cent, was financed by overseas donors.
In the case of the Ministry of Education, its budget for 2016 amounted to GH¢5.9 billion, out of which GH¢323 million was contributed by overseas donors.
That of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for 2016 was GH¢463 million, with donor support in the sum of GH¢70 million.
“So in three ministries of our social sector – Health, Education and Gender – out of a budget of GH¢9.2 billion, GH¢1.2 billion is overseas aid or donor support. And yet one group of alleged racketeers in Tema can deny us revenue of GH¢1.2 billion,” he lamented.
“The statistics tell you how important the fight against corruption is. If it is, indeed, true that the leakages (from the ports) can be anything between GH¢7 billion and GH¢10 billion, then you can appreciate the magnitude of where we are. Those pocketing these sums of money and denying it to our exchequer are, essentially, denying our capacity to develop.” he added.
The President said with a handful of customs officials and representatives of clearing agencies allegedly responsible for that level of loss, one could imagine the leakages and seepages that existed in the country’s revenue collection system.
“We appreciate the contributions and the support that our friends across the world make to our country and to its development. We are not looking at gift horses in the mouth, but we should be capable of financing our own development so that whatever anybody else wants to come and give is becomes a bonus, the icing on the cake,” he said.
Describing Ghana as a country of considerable resources, with 27 million hardworking people, President Akufo-Addo said “if we handle the resources of our country honestly and intelligently, there is no limit to where we can go”.
The reason the fight against corruption was such an important matter for his government and the people of Ghana, he explained, was because of “the project that we (government) have put before our people”.
“We want to put Ghana in the situation ‘Beyond Aid’. We want to be able to mobilise Ghana's own resources to handle the problems of its development.
“We are not a poor country in Ghana. We are a country of considerable resources, with 27 million hardworking people in a land which is blessed with a lot that nature has given us,” he added.