A survey conducted by the Ghana Integrity initiative anti-corruption Consortium, has confirmed that bribery is actually taking place at the customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the passport office and the Ghana Police Service.
The survey, which was to assess citizen’s understanding of corruption, their perceptions and actual experiences of corruption, show that Ghanaians still perceive the police, political parties and the judiciary as being corrupt.
It however revealed that Ghanaians do not regard the payment of what is commonly called facilitation fee as a form of corruption.
Nearly two thirds of the close to eighteen thousand respondents in the survey believes corruption is on the rise in Ghana.
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, said corruption levels in Ghana are at a point where US companies looking to do business in Ghana, have mostly been frustrated with requests for the payment of “facilitation fee” – which he simply described as another language for bribe.
Speaking with the media after launching the GII Consortium survey report, the US Ambassador said “We are looking at a government official that is demanding an action or a fee for doing the job that he or she is supposed to do.
Secondly, we want to identify those institutions are actually taking bribes. Even now, people perceive that the Ghana Police Service for example is corrupt; in fact the DVLA, passport office, and the Ghana Revenue Authority are more corrupt in terms of actually taking bribe. My purpose in highlighting them is no to point fingers.
My purpose in doing that is to make people aware, that individuals in those institutions have been profiting illegally, and we need to make people think before they pay fees for the services they are already paying for.” The US Ambassador said Ghana has lost lots of business opportunities to acts of bribery and corruption.
“Corruption inhibits free enterprise and slows economic growth, and it is compromising the quality of much needed services that safeguards health, creates opportunity and save lives.
I often hear stories of struggling families having to pay bribe for basic services. Regional monitors report that a typical agricultural exporter in Ghana faces more than forty check points between Accra and the border with Burkina Faso. Check points that add up to 100 dollars or more in what is called facilitation fees.
What are facilitation fees? That’s a very diplomatic word. We are talking about bribes; absolute bribes,” he said. “There have been specific complains about lack of transparency in tenders. We have seen several cases of that reported to us.
I have met with company executives. However OI hear time and again that companies are asked to pay facilitation payments in order to get approval or get things done; and they finally just walk away; they say this is just too much trouble; we are going to another country to invest.”
Corruption is very worrying – Ambassador Jackson
Ambassador Jackson noted that, “Corruption is very worrying; it’s worrying in my country and every country. We have seen countries like Chile, Rwanda; make huge strides in combating corruption.
We have seen countries like Botswana which have relatively limited corruption throughout their history. Now, part of that is cultural, and part of it is about what the culture allows.
My worry and my purpose in highlighting this report, is that Ghanaians and Americans perceive that corruption is getting worse in both of our countries.
It’s time to speak up, it’s time to take action, and I urge everyone who hears about this report or reads it, to take action, to speak out when they are asked for bribe; to stop paying facilitation payment and to make certain that their friends and neighbours don’t pay.”
He said there was the need for citizens to stop emboldening bribery by refusing to pay. “I want people to stop and think, do I need to pay for this service or am I already paying for it? If I am already paying for it, why should I pay again? I cited an example of school teachers; it is one of the most repulsive forms of corruption to be demanding sexual favours for better grades or admission. It shouldn’t be happening; let’s stop it.
Is this how we want our society to evolve? I don’t think it is.”
Ghana has overpaid millions for projects
The US Ambassador confirmed the long-held perception that several government projects are bloated for purposes of corruption, causing the state to lose millions of dollars.
“I cannot, but I can tell you this, Ghanaians have overpaid for projects to the tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars, and we are talking about every kind of infrastructure that Ghanaians think about every day. There have been many examples of overpayment.”