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Former Maritime boss who owns 13 air conditioners is unfit for GRA job – GII

The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) is demanding the immediate removal of the former Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Kwame Owusu who came under criticism for spending GH¢1 million to renovate his 2-bedroom house, and was recently appointed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the new Board Chair of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). 

Kwame Owusu

His appointment was communicated on June 18, in a letter signed by Nana Asante Bediatuo, the Executive Secretary to the President.

"Pursuant to section 4 (1) (a) of the Ghana Revenue Authority Act, 2009 (Act 791), the President of the Republic, in consultation with the Council of State, has appointed you as Chairman of the Governing Board of the Ghana Revenue Authority," the letter read.

He was then requested to confirm the acceptance of the new appointment within 14 days.

Kwame Owusu came under the spotlight while serving as Director-General of the Martitime Authority.

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He was reported to have spent a whopping GH¢135,000 on staff for an end-of-year dinner last December.

He also reportedly spent GH¢1 million to renovate his 2-bedroom house into a 4-bedroom apartment. 

He subsequently resigned from his post following intensive criticism from Ghanaians.

However, the Presidency has decided to hand him another opportunity be appointing him Chairman of the Governing Board of GRA.

But his appointment has annoyed some Ghanaians and the anti-corruption body, GII calling on the President to "revoke his appointment".

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In a statement, GII said "If the President wants to stand by his decision, then GII calls on him to publish the report of investigations that contradict the allegation of conflict of interest and financial misappropriation made against his appointee."

Below is GII's full statement:

GII DEMANDS REMOVAL OF NEW GRA BOARD CHAIR UNTIL CLEARED OF ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPRIETY

GII is calling on the President, to revoke the appointment of Mr Kwame Owusu following the intense public outcry in the pending investigations into allegations of abuse of office and conflict of interest involving Mr Owusu.

The appointment of the former Managing Director of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Mr Owusu as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Revenue Authority has evoked disappointment among the general public particularly because of the events preceding his exit from his previous job. The raging debates are focused on the integrity of Mr Owusu and its implication to the public perception of the new institution he has been appointed to.

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It is important to remind the President of this sections of his oath of office –“… and that I dedicate myself to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of Ghana and to do right to all manner of persons”. The said service which the President swore to all Ghanaians includes holding himself and appointees accountable to the people of Ghana and making information on his accountability available to the people whose mandate he holds to govern. Also, the President should be guided by Ghana’s commitment to the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) which the Government of Ghana signed onto in 2011. The OGP commitment revolves around the pillars of transparency, empowering citizens to participate and harness new technologies to promote good governance. Therefore, publishing reports of an investigation into the conduct of public officers is evidence of good and open governance practice which would be consistent with their oath of office.

Efforts by governments over the years at widening the tax net has been fraught with many challenges. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in addition to the myriad of problems faced by Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), trust in government to use the tax revenue prudently for the benefit of the taxpayer sinks with every corruption exposed in the public sector.

In line with the above, GII holds the view that it is out of place to appoint an individual whose integrity has been questioned to the Board of such a sensitive entity as GRA. However, if the President wants to stand by his decision, then GII calls on him to publish the report of investigations that contradict the allegation of conflict of interest and financial misappropriation made against his appointee.

Failure by the President to revoke Mr. Kwame Owusu’s appointment or publish the report that clears him will only contribute to negating all the efforts of GRA to promote voluntary compliance of the country’s tax laws and hence leaving the country to mark time at Tax to GDP ratio of 12.6 percent (Ministry of Finance 2018 fiscal data Jan – Dec).

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