Pursuant to Section 16 of the Audit Service Act 2000 (ACT 584), the Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo has blown the cover of officers and officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), through an audit made by his outfit relating to the total liabilities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the period to 31st December, 2016, describing them as fraudulent and rejecting 51% of the indebtedness.
He indicated that, the audit was necessitated as a result of the revelation from the Vice President, H.E. Alhaji Dr. Mahmoud Bawumia that the total liabilities of the MDAs as at 31st December, 2016 stood at Seven Billion Ghana Cedis (Gh¢7b), adding that the service was inspired by the desire to safeguard public purse.
In the report presented to the Speaker of Parliament on the 29th of January, 2018 was stunning revelations of differences in figures by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and that of the primary MDA, adding that the only reason for these disparities is the element of fraud.
The Audit revealed that, total liabilities presented to the Ministry of Finance by the MDAs as indebtedness for payment amounted to Gh¢11,279,183,400.09, whilst the Auditor certified Gh¢5,570,594,500.24 with a whopping Gh¢5,708,588,899.85 presented to the Service by the Ministry of Finance rejected.
He further revealed that, the MDAs presented different liability figures in respect of the same indebtedness, presenting the total indebtedness for payment to be Gh¢9,933,311,177.13, with Gh¢5,570,594,500.24 certified and a whopping Gh¢4,362,716,676.89, being rejected.
He also disclosed that, total unsupported claims amounted to Gh¢4,770,314,373.92, adding that some of the claims in this figure were just estimates that were fraudulently added as part of the indebtedness.
The Report also revealed an overpayment value of Fifty Three Million Cedis (Gh¢53 million), having been paid to suppliers or contractors more than the actual indebtedness.
Throwing light on the Audit exercise at a Press Conference at Alisa Hotel in Accra, the Auditor General indicated that the exercise was time bound and broad, adding that they had to go beyond the figures of the Ministry of Finance to probe figures from the MDAs and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department as well, using ten (10) weeks for the exercise.
The Service also offered thirty (30) days to the Ministries for their response, as prescribed the law.
He also observed that most of the MDAs did not observe good records, adding that, he is very ashamed of his colleague accounting professionals manning these MDAs”, judging from the way they handle accounting practices there.
He also sighted weak control mechanisms at the various MDAs, adding that the Internal Auditors of these MDAs are abused through threats, intimidations, transfers and other means aimed at silencing them and getting them to corrupt themselves with the schemes employed by officers of these MDAs.
The Auditor General Daniel Domelevo also disclosed that, the government awarded huge contracts without records of a well-structured monitoring regime, in which case it becomes very difficult for anyone to track and monitor the particular project and match it against payment, vis-à-vis performance and results.
Payments in certain cases were also made in multiple times for the same services rendered, adding that “Ghana’s public purse is not protected at all; with these happenings where contractors are paid without records, “how can I say that the public purse is protected?”
Stating that he has disallowed the rejected liabilities, named the officers involved and surcharged them as spelt out in the case Occupy Ghana Vs. The Attorney General, where the Court directed that the names of officers surcharged by the Auditor General should be mentioned, and not their titles.
He warned possible officers who might attempt to authorize payment that, they are only candidates of surcharge and prosecution if they authorize payment of rejected”.
According to him, he has requested the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to give prosecutorial powers to the Auditor General through legislation in order to enable him prosecuted offending officials, and better help protect the public purse.
He by that appealed to the Attorney General and other bodies with investigative and prosecutorial powers such the Economic and Organized Crime Organization (EOCO) to take up revelations of the report and prosecute offenders.
He bemoaned the inaction on the part of Parliament in handling reports of successive Public Accounts Committee, where according to him these reports are shelved and doesn’t even come to the Floor for consideration.
He has therefore developed a cure for this through the surcharging and prosecution of offenders, adding that this would mean avoiding Parliament to move to take action.
Story: Frederick E. Aggrey