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Parliament Okays Whistleblower (Amendment) Bill

Parliament has passed the Whistleblower (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

The object of the Bill is to amend the Whistleblower Act, 2006 (Act 720) to expand the sources of money for the Whistleblower Reward Fund.

The amendments made are expected to cure the apparent inefficiencies in Act 720 and to prevent any earmarking of budgetary revenue to fund the Fund.

The Bill was laid in the House on March 7, 2023 by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, and it was referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration.

Curing Shortcomings
The Whistleblower Act, 2006 (Act 720) was passed as part of efforts to create incentives and the proper structures to strengthen Ghana’s ability to combat corruption and other forms of unlawful conduct that negatively affected sustainable development efforts.

Section 20 of Act 720 established the Whistleblower Reward Fund, with its main sources of funding being voluntary contributions and budgetary allocations by Parliament.

In a report submitted to the House ahead of the passage of the Bill, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, said the committee observed that the possibility of delay in releases of approved budget into the Fund might affect prompt payment of rewards to whistleblowers.

In addition, he said, Act 720 was silent on the time period within which the whistleblower should be rewarded for the efforts leading to successful recovery of money or proceeds obtained from the sale of confiscated assets.

“The amendments proposed are, therefore, meant to cure the shortcomings in Act 720 by reducing over-reliance on budgetary allocations as the main sources of revenue into the Whistleblower Reward Fund and to also provide for timeliness for payment of the rewards to successful whistleblowers,” it said.

Whistleblower Protection
Per the report, the committee stressed the critical need for the protection of the identity of whistleblowers in order not to expose them to unnecessary recrimination by powerful and influential persons in the society.

The committee said instituting strong whistleblower protection mechanisms was essential to safeguarding the safety of whistleblowers, encourage citizens to report wrongdoings, and to promote a culture of public accountability and integrity.

The committee, therefore, urged persons — to whom or institutions to which disclosure of impropriety was made pursuant to Section 3 of Act 720 — to observe the highest form of confidentiality and to put in place stringent protective measures to protect the identity of the whistleblowers.

Reward Payment
The report said the committee proposed the amendment to Act 720 to provide reliable and sustainable sources of funding into the Fund.

“The intent is to avoid any form of demotivation arising out of delays in payment of rewards to whistleblowers,” it said.

“The committee, therefore, urges the minister responsible for Justice and the Attorney-General to deepen collaboration with the minister of finance for timely releases of amounts due the Fund following the successful recovery of money or proceeds obtained from the sales of the confiscated assets as a result of disclosures by whistleblowers,” the report added.

Per the report, the committee observed that the motivation to persons to expose wrongdoing in both private and public sectors was a major drive towards fighting fraud, corruption and unethical behaviour.

“As a result, the state should continually review its policies and legal frameworks geared towards incentivising and protecting patriotic persons who volunteer information on wrongdoings in the country,” it said.

The committee, therefore, considered the proposed amendment relevant to strengthening national efforts to combat corruption, it added.


Source: Graphic

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