Gyimah-Boadi: OSP-Labianca saga raises questions about state of governance in Ghana
Professor E Gyimah-Boadi, the co-founder and former Executive director of CDD-Ghana, has said the ongoing public dispute between the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) and Labianca Company Limited raises a number of troubling questions about the state of governance in Ghana today.
An official report said the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has recovered over GHC1 million in unpaid import duties from Labianca Foods, which is owned by Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, an elected member of the Council of State.
The amount represents a shortfall in import duties the frozen foods company has paid to the state.
In a 12-page report, the OSP accused Asomah-Hinneh of influence-peddling and alleged that she used her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the board of directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to obtain a favourable decision from the Customs Division of the GRA, which led to a reduction in the tax liabilities of Labianca Ltd.
Conflict of interest
Touching on the development, Gyimah-Boadi asked: “Firstly, should the President appoint an individual to serve on the board of a public agency with whom that individual has private business dealings? And if so, doesn’t that set that person up for conflict of interest?”
“Secondly, is it appropriate for the President to appoint a member of the Council of State to a state agency board? Was there an objectively compelling public interest-related reason for the President to make such an appointment?
“And finally, was the appointment run by the Council of State? And if the answer is yes, doesn’t the Council of State’s approval of the appointment of one of its members to a state agency board position smack of institutional self-dealing on the part of Council of State?” the statement said.
“In conclusion, it is obvious that the entire sordid episode speaks specifically to the entrenchment of incumbent leaders and political elite capture of Ghana; and generally, to the alarming decline in governance standards in our 4th Republic.
“Therefore, as a recommendation, this unfortunate event highlights the urgent need for an ethics czar at the Presidency, Executive Branch, Council of State, and other important decision-making and public resource allocation agencies and institutions,” it added.