The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has asked the President to revoke the appointment of the new Board Chairman of the Ghana Revenue Authority, (GRA), Mr. Kwame Owusu until he is cleared of allegations of impropriety.
The appointment of Mr. Owusu, the former Managing Director of the Ghana Maritime Authority, who is facing investigations into allegations of abuse of office and conflict of interest has been met with intense public outcry when it was announced.
The development has evoked disappointment among the general public particularly because of the events preceding his exit from his previous job.
In a statement issued by the GII, the local chapter of Transparency Initiative, it said it is important to remind the President of the sections of his oath of office that enjoins him to dedicate himself “to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of Ghana and to do right to all manner of persons.”
“The said service which the President swore to all Ghanaians,” according to the antigraft body, “include holding himself and appointees accountable to the people of Ghana and making information on his accountability available to the people whose mandate he holds to govern.”
It also urged the President to be guided by country’s commitment to the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) which the Government of Ghana signed onto in 2011. The OGP commitment revolves around the pillars of transparency, empowering citizens to participate and harness new technologies to promote good governance.
“Therefore, publishing reports of the investigation into the conduct of public officers is an evidence of good and open governance practice which would be consistent with their oath of office,” GII stated.
It noted that efforts by governments over the years at widening the tax net have been fraught with many challenges. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that in addition to the myriad of problems faced by Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), trust in government to use the tax revenue prudently for the benefit of the taxpayer sinks with every corruption exposed in the public sector.”
In view of these, the GII said it is out of place for the President to appoint an individual whose integrity has been questioned to the Board of such a sensitive entity as GRA.
However, it asked the President to publish the report of investigations that contradict the allegation of conflict of interest and financial misappropriation made against his appointee, if he wants to stand by his decision.
“Failure by the President to revoke Mr. Kwame Owusu’s appointment or publish the report that clears him will only contribute to negating all the efforts of GRA to promote voluntary compliance of the country’s tax laws and hence leaving the country to mark time at Tax to GDP ratio of 12.6 percent (Ministry of Finance 2018 fiscal data Jan – Dec)”