The Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, says he was surprised at the GHc 180 million allocated to the Office of the Special Prosecutor in the 2019 budget.
On Eyewitness News, he explained his surprise was “because the GHc180 million is big.”
I have been thinking they will be gradually increasing so I was surprised that it was GHc 180,” he added.
Martin Amidu, the Special Prosecutor, had previously expressed concern with the fact that his office was under-resourced.
Citi News had sighted a communique from his office indicating that the lack of resources had kept him from beginning investigations into some corruption complaints.
Mr. Amidu has been waiting for funds to hire investigators to begin probes into some cases of alleged corruption.
It is for this reason that the Monitoring and Evaluation Minister feels the budget was this large.
Dr. Akoto Osei was also keen to note that the despite his surprise, he didn’t think this allocation of funds was a misplaced priority.
“I have heard that his request was huge because he has to hire special investigators which’s skills don’t exist and he has to pay them a special salary. The Attorney General has not been given money to do that, neither has EOCO [Economic and Organised Crime Office], so this will be a special group of new investigators that are not in the system right now.”
Ahead of the 2019 budget statement, indications were that the Special Prosecutor Office was in line for a major boost.
Citi News sighted a letter from the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu in which he expressed appreciation to the Finance Minister for an apparent pledge.
“The Office of the Special Prosecutor appreciates efforts of His Excellency the President and your good self in supporting this Office to be able to establish and operationalize to the best international standard to decrease the incentive and increase to the highest level the risk for corruption towards the attainment of the agreed national anti-corruption vision for our dear country,” the letter said.
Issue of legislation
Despite the concerns of funding, another issue Mr. Amidu has been very vocal about is the lack of legislation for his office.
He said he just using his common sense in the meantime.
“I am saying this for the public to understand that we have set up an office. We have to organize that office, have the requisite personnel. It does not take one day. The law says 90 days after the assumption of office of the Special Prosecutor, pursuant legislation must be enacted, but as I speak today, I have no legislation so I use my common sense,” Mr. Amidu said in September.
He warned that time was not on his side as an election year draws nearer and partisan considerations start to cloud perception.
“I have warned that if most of these things are not done by the middle of this year then this office may not be able to be seen to be doing its mandate, because by middle next year we are in an election year. If I arrest someone, you will turn out and look at it; which party does he hold the insurance card for?”
The Office of the Special Prosecutor has been tasked to investigate and prosecute certain categories of cases, including those involving alleged violations of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) and cases implicating public officers and politically-exposed persons.
The office has also be mandated to trace and recover the proceeds of corruption.
The Special Prosecutor’s office is expected to be independent of the Executive, which observers believe will allow it to adequately deal with corruption-related issues which have plagued governance.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, which was passed in November 2017, defines the modalities for the appointment and operations of the Special Prosecutor Office.
The setting up of the office of the Special Prosecutor was one of the key campaign promises made by President Nana Akufo-Addo ahead of his election victory in 2016 and it is aimed at tackling corruption.