The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah has tasked the media and civil society organizations to aggressively pursue their role of holding public office holders accountable.
Leaving the job of holding, particularly, the executive accountable for the way they manage state resources in the hands of Parliament, he said, would only serve to maintain the current situation where mismanagement and corruption had become the bane of the nation’s development.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah was speaking at an editors retreat on oil and gas organized by the International Institute for IT Journalism (Penplusbytes), sponsored by Tullow Oil.
Grounding his argument, the PAC Chairman said, “Over-sighting the executive cannot be left in the hands of our parliamentarians alone or with the political class. Most times, they do not have the motivation to undertake the necessary reforms to change systems that are so beneficial to them. They are human beings.”
He added that “whereas it is true that they (parliamentarians) alone possess the powers to legislate to introduce essential reforms, the media and civil society organisations must continuously harass them such that it becomes impossible for our politicians to run away from much needed reforms.”
According to him, politicians everywhere in the world are afraid of the media and civil society and this fear should form the basis for the media and civil society to work assiduously towards reversing the poor accounting systems that create gaping loopholes through which revenues leak with casual abandon.
Whilst admonishing MPs to “address the present loopholes in our laws which do not allow for any effective follow up of audit recommendations by the Auditor General and PAC as a result of which people who disregard our financial laws are left unpunished, the NPP MP for Afigya-Sekyere West in the Ashanti Region, said the rampant corruption in the public sector “calls for more vigilance on the part of civil society organizations and the media as protectors of national integrity and the will of the people. This promises to be the most important safeguard of our national wealth and must be promoted.”
He said MPs must wake up to constitutional duty to “defend the accountability effects in our public sector financial management systems,” insisting that the “present situation where our MDA’s (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) cannot prepare annual accounts as demanded by our national constitution is just too scandalous to be entertained. It has the effect of leaving wide open at all times the doors to the arena of corruption.”
Making the case a national development plan, the Chairman of the PAC said the practice where parties in power drew budgets on the basis of their party manifestos – which were themselves designed to win votes – and not based on a national vision was inimical to a planned, sustained development of the nation.
He said budgets presented to the House were so political that Parliament was never able to exercise its mandate of ensuring accountability and the needed checks and balances.
Instead of scrutinizing budgets to ensure that they were drawn to achieve the development goals of the country and to meet the aspirations of the people, MPs, Mr. Kan-Dapaah regretted, rather turned such an important exercise “into a shameless exercise of political partisanship to score cheap political points.”