Ghana

Kwamena Ahwoi

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I
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3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Itumeleng Makgetla
Name
Kwamena Ahwoi
Interviewee's Position
Secretary
Interviewee's Organization
Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Kwamena Ahwoi recounts his experiences implementing decentralization policies in Ghana as part of his role in the Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development. He goes into detail about the key challenges he faced, such as translating policy proposals into legislation, transferring functions from historically highly centralized agencies, and setting up political structures for decentralization. He talks about the methods to garner support for the initiatives through a consultative process with the support of a fully researched policy document, and effective use of the mass media, as well as the methods to overcome the challenges faced from those opposing the reform, such as some local chiefs. He details the bargaining that took place at the national level as a result of the policy document and the need for openness in the implementation process to allow people the opportunity to express their concerns. He explains that throughout the entire process there is a need to increase capacity at all levels to ensure the requisite skill set is assigned to its relevant area.  Finally, Ahwoi offers his thoughts on the best ways to deal with the devolution of power in the decentralization process.

 

Profile

At the time of this interview, Kwamena Ahwoi was a principal lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. Ahwoi has had an extensive career in the government of Ghana. He started his professional career as a professor of law at the University of Ghana before joining the Rawlings government in 1983.  Jerry Rawlings, Ghana's military leader after a coup d'etat from 1982-1992, became the first president of the Fourth Republic in 1993, serving until 2001. Ahwoi served as secretary for the Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development from 1988 to 1999, and doubled as the minister of foreign affairs from 1997 to 1998. Ahwoi also established the Ministry of Planning Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration before the Provisional National Defense Council lost power in 2001. After leaving office he also worked for the National Democratic Congress as director of research. He earned a law degree from the University of Ghana before going on to continue his studies at Oxford University.

Full Audio File Size
75 MB
Full Audio Title
Kwamena Ahwoi- Full Interview

Albert Kofi Arhin

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E
Focus Area(s)
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12
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Albert Kofi Arhin
Interviewee's Position
Director of Operations
Interviewee's Organization
Electoral Commission of Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghana
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Albert Kofi Arhin discusses the biggest challenges of conducting elections in Ghana. He details the process of drawing up a timetable for the elections. He explains the issues surrounding elections funding and the steps Ghana is taking to make them more affordable. Arhin also discusses staff recruiting and training, elections monitoring, boundary delimitation, and voter registration. He then focuses on fraud prevention, both in the registration process and during the elections themselves, and security issues.  Arhin also touches on the Electoral Commission’s relationship with the media, discusses voter education, and offers advice for other countries conducting difficult elections.    

Case Study:  Keeping the Peace in a Tense Election: Ghana, 2008

Profile

At the time of this interview, Albert Kofi Arhin was the director of operations for the Electoral Commission of Ghana, a position he had held since 1998.  

Full Audio File Size
96 MB
Full Audio Title
Albert Kofi Arhin - Full Interview

John Larvie

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E
Focus Area(s)
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3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
John Larvie
Interviewee's Position
Programs Coordinator
Interviewee's Organization
Center for Democratic Development, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
John Larvie gives a detailed account of the electoral process in Ghana and the relevant players at each level. He starts by explaining the timing and sequencing of elections in Ghana, including the length of the electoral process and the decisions involved in finalizing its schedule. The legal framework of the electoral system in Ghana is also addressed, focusing on regulations that govern eligibility, registration, voting procedures, and the voting system used. He then moves on to explain how the election management body, the Electoral Commission of Ghana, was established with specific reference to efforts to maintain its transparency, and how its responsibilities, budget, and appointments are administered. He offers further insights into the role the Electoral Commission plays in regulating the political parties, and its training, recruitment, delimitation, evaluation and poll worker protection procedures. Larvie also gives details on Ghana’s voter education programs and the use of election monitors and their monitoring methods. Throughout the interview he offers advice and insights into addressing challenges that arise in elections, such as funding issues, partisan appointments, and ballot design to prevent vote fraud. Finally he explains the need to use the media effectively.
Profile
At the time of this interview, John Larvie was working at the Center for Democratic Development in Accra, Ghana. His work since 1987 involved the management of decentralization, democracy and governance at the district and national level in Ghana, with a specialty in communications and public relations. He also trained election observers and poll workers, and worked in civic and voter education initiatives. Previously he held various posts in communications and public relations with the Electoral Commission of Ghana, district assemblymen, and the International Foundation of Electoral Systems. In recognition of his role in governance and democracy work, in 1997 he was made an honorary member of the Board of Elections in Washington, D.C.
Full Audio File Size
141 MB
Full Audio Title
John Larvie - Full Interview

Edward Larbi-Siaw

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I
Focus Area(s)
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9
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Itumeleng Makgetla
Name
Edward Larbi-Siaw
Interviewee's Position
Tax Policy Adviser
Interviewee's Organization
Ministry of Finance, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghana
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Edward Larbi-Siaw describes in detail the process of tax administration reform in Ghana during the late 1980s.  First, the reform program sought to recruit highly skilled and diversified personnel that could raise to the challenges posed by the new taxation environment.  Larbi-Siaw describes alternative strategies to incentivize employment with the National Revenue Secretariat (NRS), including salaries matching those offered by the private sector and hierarchy adjustments aimed at providing in-demand scientists with ranks equal to those they would have at universities. This was possible only after the NRS was removed from the civil service to circumvent pay restrictions and rigid promotion systems.  Second, the secretariat was transformed into an agency through an institutional overhaul that involved the creation of departments specialized in research, internal operations, auditing, finance and human resources. Third, enhanced supervision and monitoring of revenue flow contributed to an increase in effectiveness and a reduction in corruption and malfeasance.  This was complemented by selective purges of corrupt or underperforming officials, with the notable exception of the operations core that remained largely untouched due to the strategic need to maintain the NRS running throughout the restructuring process and to minimize resistance.  Larbi-Siaw attributes the lack of generalized resistance to the reform to the support of the government, a consensus-building approach predicated on internal deliberation and consultation with other relevant agencies, and the successes of creative outreach efforts of the newly created NRS customer service and public relations departments. Nonetheless, there were two main sources of resistance. First, civil servants resented the retention of revenue to sustain high salaries at the NRS, which resulted in the abolition of retention and the drain of many qualified staff.  Second, public discontent over misused funds affected the NRS due to the inevitable link between revenue collection and expenditure. Information provision was key to transparency, and required extensive cooperation with the Ministry of Finance that could not always be secured due to intrinsic institutional conflict over jurisdictions.  Both factors also contributed to the considerable delay in integration of the revenue agencies—the Internal Revenue Service and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Services—despite a stated preference for a one-stop shop.  Finally, Larbi Siaw describes specific tax regulations that were introduced, highlighting the role of codification in the management of special interest groups that had previously been able to secure ad hoc exemptions.  

Case Study:  Professionalization, Decentralization, and a One-Stop Shop: Tax Collection Reform in Ghana, 1986-2008

Profile

At the time of this interview, Edward Larbi-Siaw was the tax policy adviser in the Ministry of Finance of Ghana. Trained as an economist, he initially worked at Ghana's central bank. He left that post to study law and management accounting. Upon returning to Ghana, he joined the National Supply Commission. As he specialized in economics taxation, he transferred to the National Revenue Secretariat (NRS) as chief director.  While at the NRS, he was involved in important reforms in tax administration and the structure of taxation.

Full Audio File Size
82 MB
Full Audio Title
Edward Larbi-Slaw Interview

Augustina Akumanyi

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E
Focus Area(s)
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6
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Augustina Akumanyi
Interviewee's Position
Deputy Chairman
Interviewee's Organization
National Commission for Civic Education, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Augustina Akumanyi explains her role at Ghana's National Commission of Civic Education and how the commission was established, including its relationship with the government and its efforts to become and remain an independent body. She talks about how the commission operates, including staff appointments, operations, funding, budget authority, recruitment methods, and training and evaluation methods. She offers details of the responsibilities of the commission in voter and civic education activities and how these are shared with civil society and the media. This education can come in the way of messages that can either be motivational or instructional. Akumanyi gives her opinion on the best way to convey these messages, and which messages are more effective than others. Finally, Akumanyi shares her perspectives on the relationship between donors and host countries and ways to improve working relations.
Profile
At the time of this interview, Augustina Akumanyi was deputy chairman responsible for programs at the National Commission for Civic Education in Accra, Ghana. She had extensive experience in the Ghana Civil Service as well as more than 20 years working in the U.K. as a principle committee administrator in five London boroughs. She returned to Ghana in 2003 to work at the commission. She graduated from the University of Ghana and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.
Full Audio File Size
45 MB
Full Audio Title
Augustina Akumanyi - Full Interview

Emile Short

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I
Focus Area(s)
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14
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Itumeleng Makgetla
Name
Emile Short
Interviewee's Position
Former Commissioner
Interviewee's Organization
Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Emile Short recounts his experiences establishing the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice in Ghana from 1993 to 2004. He goes into detail about the strategies put into place to establish the commission while avoiding any politicization and patronage within this process. He recalls how he and others set up the commission with a triple mandate encapsulating human rights, ombudsman and anti-corruption activities, and how cases were selected and prioritized. The need for effective recruitment was essential in the initial stages, as well as the training that staff would receive initially, and continue to receive.  He details the character of the individuals sought for the commission and the particular skills set that was required. Throughout, he explains the challenges that were encountered and how these were overcome.    

Case Study:  Earning a Reputation for independence: Ghana's Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, 1993-2003

Profile

Emile Short served as commissioner of Ghana's Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice from 1993 to 2004. Before that, he was head of a Ghanaian law firm for 20 years. He also served as a justice on the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He earned an LLM degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1967. He also received an honorary doctorate from Northwestern University in Illinois.

Full Audio File Size
74 MB
Full Audio Title
Emile Short Interview

E.M. Debrah

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C
Focus Area(s)
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1
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
E.M. Debrah
Interviewee's Position
Chairman
Interviewee's Organization
Governing Council, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

E.M. Debrah recounts his experiences in public sector reform in Ghana. He goes into detail about the culture of the civil service in Ghana as well as how one normally enters into the civil service, such as through the specially formed training institute, the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. He also explains the recruitment strategy needed to increase capacity within the civil service and the training programs and internal review sessions that were conducted. He explains the need to increase remuneration packages and the creation of pension plans to lure more talent into the civil service, as well as detailing the retrenchment program Ghana introduced. Debrah also talks about the dynamic between host countries and donors and how to strike the right balance within this relationship to be able to work effectively. Finally, he makes the point that in order for reform to be successful, it must be realistic as well. One must be able to see one’s own limitations and plan accordingly.
 

Profile

At the time of this interview, E.M. Debrah was serving as chairman of the Governing Council in Ghana. He joined the Ghana Foreign Service in 1955 and served in missions around the world, including the United States, Liberia, Ethiopia and Australia. He previously served as secretary to the Cabinet and head of the Ghana Civil Service. He earned degrees from the University of Ghana and the London School of Economics, and received honorary doctorates of law from various universities. In 2006 he was awarded the National Award of the Star of Ghana award for his service to Ghana and other Commonwealth and African countries.

Full Audio File Size
87 MB
Full Audio Title
Amb. Debrah - Full Interview

David Adom

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P
Focus Area(s)
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1
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
David Hausman
Name
David Adom
Interviewee's Position
Consultant
Interviewee's Organization
AA&K Consulting
Language
English
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Former IRS Commissioner David Adom describes the organizational changes that helped improve revenue collection at the Ghanaian IRS between 1986 and 2001.  He focuses on changes to human resource policy and organizational structure.  On his watch, first as deputy Commissioner and then as Commissioner, the IRS became autonomous from Ghana’s civil service regulations.  Using that freedom, the organization tripled salaries and hired a large new cohort of professionals—mostly lawyers and accountants.  In order to integrate these new hires into the pool of existing employees, Adom kept retrenchments to a minimum, applied salary raises equitably throughout the whole organization, and spread new hires across different units in order to give new and old staff a chance to mix on the job.  Finally, in an attempt to target the small number of taxpayers who accounted for more than half of Ghana’s revenue, Adom introduced an elite Large Taxpayer’s Office, which offered better service—and more careful enforcement—to wealthy individuals and firms.  

Case Study:  Professionalization, Decentralization and a One-Stop Shop: Tax-Collection Reform in Ghana, 1986-2008

Profile

At the time of this interview, David Adom was a consultant at AA&K Consulting.  He was deputy commissioner for research and planning in the Ghana Internal Revenue Service between 1986 and 1996, and he went on to serve as commissioner of the organization from 1996 until 2001.  Before he joined the IRS, he worked as a chartered accountant in Nigeria. 

Full Audio File Size
63 MB
Full Audio Title
David Adom Interview

John E.K. Sotenga

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P
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
6
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
David Hausman
Name
John E.K. Sotenga
Interviewee's Position
Deputy Commissioner for Operations
Interviewee's Organization
Internal Revenue Service, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Place (Building/Street)
IRS head office
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Yes
Abstract

John E.K. Sotenga discusses his long experience in Ghana's Internal Revenue Service and the gradual improvements that were made in capacity. He focuses on the challenges of reorganizing tax administration along functional lines. As the first director of Ghana’s Large Taxpayers Unit, a one-stop shop for large taxpayers, Sotenga encountered the difficulties of integrating staff from three separate agencies: the IRS, the customs agency, and the value-added tax agency. He stresses the importance of placing employees from the three different agencies in groups together on specific tasks, thereby allowing them to gradually transfer their skills to one another.

Case Study: Professionalization, Decentralization, and a One-Stop Shop: Tax Collection Reform in Ghana, 1986-2008

Profile

At the time of this interview, Mr. Sotenga was deputy commissioner for operations at Ghana's Internal Revenue Service.  He joined the Ghanaian Central Revenue Department in 1978 as an assistant inspector and moved up through the ranks, first becoming chief inspector, then heading several regional tax offices. In Accra, he directed first the Large Taxpayers Office—a division of the IRS created in 1996—and later the Large Taxpayers Unit, a one-stop shop that allowed large taxpayers to pay all taxes at one central location.

Full Audio File Size
66.5MB
Full Audio Title
John E.K. Sotenga Interview

Seth Terkper

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I
Ref Batch Number
12
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Itumeleng Makgetla
Name
Seth Terkper
Interviewee's Position
Coordinator
Interviewee's Organization
Value Added Tax Project, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Seth Terkper explains the challenges he faced as the coordinator of the Value Added Tax project in Ghana. His role was to replace already existing service taxes with the VAT. He discusses how Ghana received help from the Crown Agents of the U.K. and the Harvard Institute for International Development. He describes the negotiations and compromises among Parliament, the business community and civil society. When the VAT was introduced in 1993-1994, he explains, the project failed due to an apparent lack of sensitivity toward public concerns. He emphasizes that a greater emphasis was placed on mass public education when the VAT was introduced a second time. In addition, he explains how business people were educated, with the aim of reducing resistance to the VAT project, and he discusses the establishment of a training department to ensure the efficient collection of the new tax. 
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Seth Terkper was the coordinator of the Value Added Tax project in Ghana. He later became the deputy commissioner when the project became the Value Added Tax Service. He worked with the National Revenue Secretariat as a qualified accountant. He published a series of articles on Ghanaian tax policy and administration in Tax Notes International. He also served as a consultant on tax issues for the African Development Bank, the Harvard Institute for International Development and the International Monetary Fund. 

Full Audio File Size
43.2 MB
Full Audio Title
Terkper Interview