Asset Declaration Law A Big Joke – Oduro Osae

Dean of Graduate Studies at the Institute of Local Governance Studies, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, has said the manner in which asset declaration by public office holders in Ghana is shrouded in secrecy is a joke of grand proportions.

According to him, the practice where the forms are kept secret defeats the rationale behind the implementation of the asset declaration law, therefore that trend must be changed.

His comments come after the former Auditor-General, Professor Edward Dua Agyeman, revealed that one major weakness in the Asset Declaration Act (Act 550) that ought to be addressed was the lack of public disclosure of the declared assets of public officials.

Speaking at a forum organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) on Wednesday, Mr Dua Agyeman said: "The current law does not even allow the Auditor-General who is the custodian of filed asset declaration forms to know the content of the forms. The law requires that the forms are sealed in an envelope and presented for storage, which means that until such a time that there is a legal process to open a specific envelope, one cannot even tell if the assets have been properly declared.

"What should be done is for the law to be amended so that the declared assets by public office holders can be published for the public to know and cross-check if there was any false declaration. Until we make these declared assets public, the whole process will continue to be a joke as it is now," he stressed.

Adding his voice to this in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom, on Accra 100.5FM, Dr Oduro Osae said: “This practice is indeed a big joke because as it stands we can’t know what the office holder has presented on the forms. So how do we know that the he has spoken the truth or not?

“Public office holders should be prepared to open every aspect of their lives, every property, whether for your child and your wife, that has direct link to you should be declared. We need to be serious with the asset declaration practice. We can’t elect people into office and not know the properties that they had before going into office.”

He added: “Let us continue to discuss this issue and pile up pressure so that the right things regarding this practice be changed. If public office holders know that their actions are opened they will be cautious in their dealings.”