Focusing Public Outrage on Public Sector Stealing Ignoring Private Sector Wrong — Elizabeth Ohene

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Former Information Minister Elizabeth Ohene has advocated for equal, if not more attention to stealing in the private sector rather than a preoccupation with public sector stealing.

According to the veteran journalist, since the private sector dominates about 85% of Ghana’s economy, it will be appropriate that attention is paid to private sector stealing.

“If we reserve our outrage only for stealing in the public sector and accept or wink over the stealing in the private sector, Ghana will never work. I think we should recognise the stealing in the private sector for the debilitating effect it has on the economy and on our lives” she wrote in her latest articles “Who Needs Anas?”.

Ms Ohene related her proposal to a metaphor of Anas Aremeyaw Anas after a shop that advertised a beer promo attempted to cheat her sister.

She argued that public and private sector stealing should not be separated.

“The whole point of Anas in our lives and I mean, in public life, is to have someone to keep us honest. We start from the premise that those in public office will steal if they are not being watched and the money they steal belongs to all of us and it is money that would otherwise have been used for public good. Therefore, the Anas idea as a tool for ensuring integrity in public life is that people will refrain from taking or demanding bribes or extortion because the person being asked or paying the bribe might be Anas and you would be exposed.

“I have two problems with this theory. I do not think you can successfully separate private stealing from public theft. Those who steal private sector money, invariably steal when they have a chance to get near public sector money. The private sector is said to constitute more than 85 per cent of our economy.

“If we reserve our outrage only for stealing in the public sector and accept or wink over the stealing in the private sector, Ghana will never work. I think we should recognise the stealing in the private sector for the debilitating effect it has on the economy and on our lives” she wrote in context.

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