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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Multinational corporations must join in Corruption Fight - A-G

Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrisu
Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrisu
Ghana’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Betty Mould Iddrisu says corruption is one of the key challenges facing investment in Ghana.

She has therefore called on multi-nationals to help stem the tide of that canker.

She said officials of multi-national corporations continue to indulge in corrupt and underhand dealings with government officials in a bid to achieve short-term benefits and cautioned that such actions will never go unpunished.

“Investors need to realize that the reality of political succession implies that even where they are shielded by governments with whom they contrive to breach the law, succeeding governments would seek to enforce the law. Far therefore from being an anti-investment destination, these governments would simply be seeking to uphold the rule of law. The investors concerned would have deprived themselves of any legal protection by their own considerations of short-term benefit,” Mrs Iddrisu said.

Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu was speaking during a panel discussion at the New York University on the topic,“Strengthening the Rule of Law in Africa: Promoting Investment in Africa – Ghana’s Example”, organised under the auspices of the Africa House of the New York University in collaboration with the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on African Affairs and Leitner Centre for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School.

The Attorney General said the administration of President John Evans Atta Mills, has a solid commitment towards improving existing infrastructure, building the capacities of its people, ensure that laws are enforced and barriers to investment removed.

She said: “We open our doors to investors who seek to maximize legitimate profit while helping government and local people better their lot through resource exploitation, distribution and the payment of taxes and agreed royalties.”

Touching on Ghana’s legal climate, the Attorney General stated that the judiciary had undergone a lot of reforms to make it investor friendly. She said commercial courts had been established and efforts “are being made at expediting justice particularly in commercial and investment related cases”.

Mrs Iddrisu stated that: “The establishment of the commercial courts, land courts, as well the numerous reforms in court processes as earlier alluded to all demonstrate a commitment to solidify not only the foundations of economic governance but also foreign investment interests in Ghana. Like all countries in the developing world, we still have some key challenges to overcome but the gains thus far are noteworthy.”

Competition for global investment, the Attorney General noted, has intensified and Africa needs to position itself as a leading destination by building up on governance reforms, law reforms and guaranteeing a respect for human rights and political accountability.

She said “The inception of the constitutional regime in 1992 [in Ghana] further deepened the move towards greater openness and respect of individual and multinationals’ investment within the framework of law and good governance. While the constitutional regime amply provides sufficient safeguards against the illegal expropriation of investor assets, it is significant to mention the fact that government is determined to balance the interests of investors with government’s obligation to manage the resources of the state in the best interests of the people of Ghana.”

Answering questions from a cross section of students, members of the American legal fraternity and the media, Mrs. Iddrisu reiterated the Government of Ghana’s commitment to the rule of law and international investment laws and noted that the protection of foreign investment is an international obligation that Ghana will always uphold.

“Over the past two decades, we have reinforced our governance system and consolidated constitutional democracy with greater emphasis on human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the protection of property rights. These rights and spaces for individual autonomy remain crucial for the realization of economic potential - key ingredients for investor success. Indeed, foreign investment needs a pool of qualified and motivated human resources. It is the objective of the President Mills Administration to unleash these potentials by reinforcing human rights and individual freedoms” the Attorney General said.

Systems of resource management and accountability have also been intensified, Mrs. Iddrisu said. Over the past couple of years the Whistleblower Act, Financial Administration Act and the Procurement Act have all been passed by Ghana’s Parliament. She said the Right to Information and the Petroleum Acts are also being considered by Parliament all in a bid to increase the responsibility of government in respect to the management of resources and accountability for proceeds obtained from investment.

Read the full text of the A-G’s presentation.

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