KAS, PEF, Parliament to promote good corporate governance

Mr Klause Loetzer, Resident Representative of the Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung (KAS), on Monday reiterated that corruption had become a hardened global canker and should be condemned in totality and perpetrators punished to serve as a deterrent. He said the canker could be eliminated if strong sanctions were taken against those who committed the crime and other systems put in place to eliminate loopholes. Mr Loetzer was addressing participants at a seminar organised by the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) in collaboration with KAS to build partnership between Parliament and the private sector to promote good governance. He said news items on corruption were widespread, both locally and internationally, creating various setbacks to development processes. However, he said, it was only when "we learn how to deal with these challenges in the right way that people, especially investors, would take us seriously and agree to do business in our country." Mr Loetzer cited a recent case where the Managing Director of Siemens, a mobile phone company, found himself within the grips of the law for corruption. He said the court slapped a huge fine on him for his gross misconduct and urged the judiciary in Ghana to also apply the fullness of the rule of law to serve as a deterrent to prospective offenders. Mr Loetzer said Ghana had no exceptional cases, but how it dealt with the situation was very critical. Mr Asare Akuffo, President PEF, said the private sector was faced with a lot of challenges including poor institutional and regulatory frameworks, poor infrastructure, poor public services delivery and enduring perception of corruption in the public service, in spite of reforms that had been undertaken to provide a better enabling environment for private sector growth and development. He said it was to confront these challenges that Ghana and other member countries in the African Union put in place the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), at the heart of which is the promotion of good governance. He said good governance would not be achieved at the national level without the involvement of the private sector, which was also noted for being the supply side of corruption to public officials. Mr Akuffo said good corporate governance encouraged better operational performance of firms, efficient use of resources and provided for accountability for stewardship of resources. The seminar would discuss how Parliament particularly the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance and the Public Accounts Committee could enhance their functions of ensuring good corporate governance in Ghana not only in the private sectors, but also in parastatals. He said as part of its task by the African Peer Review Mechanism Secretariat in 2004 to review the status of governance in Ghana, the PEF's report indicated that the state of corporate governance was fairly adequate in the large and multinational companies. However, there were problems in the small and medium businesses especially the indigenous firms. Since then, he said, PEF had undertaken a number of activities including training seminars on corporate governance for Directors of companies and also financial reporters to help them to expose any adverse effects of mismanagement and corporate governance failures. He stressed the critical role of parliament as an institution that should not only be accountable to public institutions, but also those in the private sector as well, saying parliament was ultimately responsible for designing the framework that regulated how corporations and businesses in general were governed. Mr Adu Anane-Antwi, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Consultant, Finlaw Consult, said to ensure good governance in the parastatals, government as a major stakeholder should ensure that there were established mechanisms, processes and systems that promoted good corporate governance, ensured an effective legal and regulatory governance framework which specified the rights and obligations of these parastatals, their directors, shareholders and other stakeholders. He said benefits included the promotion of economic growth, improved economic performance, increased productivity in parastatals and the economy, competitiveness of parastatals which would enable them to have access to capital for their projects and a reduction in the budgetary burden of the government and levels of public debt, as viable public enterprises would be able to sustain their own operations. Mr Anane-Antwi advised against undue political interferences and government micro management in the running of parastatals to ensure that managements and the boards functioned effectively, while ensuring that parastatals were adequately funded and accounted for the use of resources to Parliament through relevant Ministers.