It appears the Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo’s crusade against the Asset Declaration laws of Ghana is gathering momentum.
Since taking office in December 2016, Mr Domelevo has taken on the laws that ensure public officials declare their assets as a control measure against corruption.
Per the current laws, the to-be- public official is required to fill the Asset Declaration Form from the Auditor General’s department and seal it in an envelope marked secret.
The envelope is not supposed to be opened unless a corruption investigation is being conducted against the official and a court or equal constitutional body orders same.
Read: Public officials must declare assets publicly – Auditor General
Daniel Domelevo has since embarked on a crusade to get the laws changed to ensure better accountability. He argues that citizens cannot ensure the veracity of the declaration if it’s secret.
“What we are practising in Ghana is asset concealment and not Asset declaration, nobody sees what’s in there until the court orders for it when that individual is involved in a corruption scandal…,” he said.
Speaking at the third Kwadwo Baah Wiredu lecture at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre in Accra last month, he said: “How do I know if it is an empty envelope that has been submitted”.
In a discussion on corruption on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Tuesday, Daniel Batidam, a governance expert and immediate past Ghana and West Africa’s representative on African Union (AU) Advisory Board on Corruption, delved into the conversation; describing the law as a “joke”.
“The assets declaration law has no meaning, it’s a mockery, it’s a big joke,” he told host, Daniel Dadzie.
“How can what is secret be a declaration,” he quizzed, lamenting that the Auditor General’s job is just to collect the sealed document and lock it up.
Mr Batidam noted that the circumstances of accessing the document is herculean, making accountability almost impossible.
“I remember a journalist wanted to access one Minister’s declaration…it was impossible for him to so…” he said.
Addressing security concerns raised by public officials against making the declaration public; Mr Batidm shot the argument down stating that there are other ways around.
“…people [politicians] are arguing that if they make it public it will put people [them] at risk…that ‘if people know a have a mansion somewhere, they may start following me there’,” he noted.
Challenging this assertion the former John Mahama appointee said the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) can be mandated to verify whatever public officials declare without necessarily having to make it public.
Other experts have argued that the legislators lack the will to change the laws because it wouldn’t champion their ‘greedy’ interest.