Ghana lost approximately GH¢5 billion in cash through the payment of bribes to public officials in 2021, the Ghana Integrity of Public Services Survey (GIPSS) has disclosed.
This is equivalent to almost one-third of the 2021 budget of the Ministry of Education, which is implementing one of the country’s flagship programmes, Free Senior High School (free SHS).
The government is currently racing against time to raise about GH¢4.5 billion through the Electronic Transactions Levy (E-Levy) – a domestic revenue mobilisation enhancement measure to support national development.
The maiden national survey, titled: “Corruption in Ghana – people’s experiences and views” also disclosed that more than 17.4 million bribes were paid in the same period.
The survey was conducted by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in collaboration with the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
It collected evidence-based information from 15,000 households across the country involving people who were 18 years and older on the forms of corruption affecting the population of Ghana.
This is to determine the prevalence of the situation and its prevailing typologies, give benchmark indicators that can be used to inform relevant policies to curb administrative corruption in various public institutions in the country.
Apart from the cash payment, which contributed 84.8 per cent of the forms of bribe paid, 13.3 per cent of the bribes paid were food and drinks; 9.7 per cent, exchange for other services; 5 per cent valuables, and 2.2 per cent animals.
The bribes were paid by 33.6 per cent citizens to speed up procedures; 15.8 per cent, as a sign of appreciation; 13.8 per cent, to avoid the payment of fine; 10.8 per cent to avoid problems, and 3.1 per cent, to avoid the cancellation of public utilities.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Accra on Wednesday, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, the Government Statistician, said that more than a quarter of the country’s adult population (26.7 per cent) paid bribes to a public official in 2021.
Prof Annim also noted that most of the bribes were paid at the direct request of the public officials involved, as six out of 10 bribes paid (59.4 per cent) were directly requested by those officials.
Findings from the survey showed that the Ghana Police Service, Immigration Service and custom officers of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) were the three top institutions that received bribes.
They were followed by the Lands Commission, Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA), Passport Agency officials, and prosecutors, judges and magistrates, with elected government officials being the least recipients.
In his remarks, Justice Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi, a Justice of the Supreme Court, who stood in for the Chief Justice, said that corruption was the most dangerous threat to the country’s democracy, development and national security.
He said that: “If we fail to prevail in our fight against corruption, it is fast draining the public purse, creating barriers to economic development, decreasing the effectiveness and efficiency of public services, increasing transaction costs, undermining legal rules and eroding the legitimacy of government and will ultimately bring down our democracy.”
Justice Kulendi noted that the report provided verifiable attempt to validate the prevalence of corruption in Ghana, therefore, offer scientific measures to tackle corruption for development of tailored anti-corruption interventions.
Mr Richard Quayson, the Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, said that: “In order to fight corruption more effectively, it is critical to improve society’s understanding of its different manifestations and to make regular, scientifically-based efforts to measure its occurrence,” which the survey provided.
He noted that GIPSS would support achievement of the goals of the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), SDG 16 and the United Nations Convention against Corruption Article 61.
Ms Jennifer Sarvary Bradford, a Crime Prevention and Criminal Officer at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, also said that the report would help Ghana produce an evidence-based policy to fight corruption.
The report called for stakeholder engagement at both the national and sub-national levels, publication of analytical reports, institutionalisation of GIPSS, and the anti-corruption implementation roadmap to address the situation.