Opinion End corruption and then we will end poverty

Shouldn't we be basking in glory when the latest Transparency International (TI) report singled out Ghana and Senegal as good examples of countries doing enough to combat corruption?, Pulse business reporter Abu Mubarik asks.

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Shouldn't we be basking in glory when the latest Transparency International (TI) report singled out Ghana and Senegal as good examples of countries doing enough to combat corruption?

I say we should, for the reason that it gives Ghana a good name. It sends the right signals to investors.

Corruption, an over-flogged subject, I must say, has impoverished many in the world, but the levels of it in Ghana is shocking.

The 2015 TI rankings on the public’s perception on corruption saw Ghana improved from its previous position- 61 out of 175 countries in 2014-- to 56 out of 168 countries in 2015.

Fighting corruption shouldn't only be about chasing after missing money. It should include improving people’s lives. When a staggering number of the population are impoverished, it tells of corruption.

An estimated 6.4 million people in Ghana cannot afford to spend GHS3.60 on food a day, according to the Ghana Living Standard Survey report authored by the Ghana Statistical service (GSS) in 2014.

The report said about 7 million people live below the poverty line and some 8.4% of the population living below extreme poverty.

According to the GSS, poverty remains endemic in the northern regions of the country, with poverty rates standing at 70.4 percent and 87.9 percent for Upper East and Upper West respectively in 2006.

The country must resolve to measure government’s fight against corruption by the number of people it has uplifted from poverty, how the government deals with inequality and gender mainstreaming.

The levels of poverty in the country fuels corruption through exploitation, be it child labour, child trafficking and environmental distraction because officials pay their way through.

What is more worrying is the fact that the benefits of economic growth and poverty reduction are not equally distributed across the nation and across genders.

The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) data on inequality in Ghana shows gaps between the poorest and richest citizens by various indicators is widening including income, under-five mortality, and access to skilled birth attendants where the richest groups (20%) have pulled ahead and the poorest (20%) have been left behind.

On gender inequalities in political representations at national and local levels, the data noted that women are very much underrepresented in major political positions and policy making processes. Women account for only 11% of the 275 seats in Parliament and only 8.2% of District Chief Executives at local government level.

The public’s perception on corruption in the country maybe improving, but the standard of living of many Ghanaians tells a story of how corruption is impoverishing them. For it is through the fight against corruption that lives can be improved.

By all means we should chase after missing monies, by all means we should prosecute corrupt officials, but we must not fail to lift people out of poverty.

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