The Public Accounts Committee is one of the Standing Committees in Parliament with a total membership of twenty-five Members of Parliament.
The committee is led by a Chairman, a Vice Chairman, a Ranking Member and a Deputy Ranking Member.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, is the Member of Parliament for Ketu North. Hon. Edward Kaale-Ewola Dery is the Vice Chairman and Member of Parliament for Lambussie. Ranking Member of the committee, Hon. Kofi Okyere Agyekum is the Member of Parliament for Fanteakwa and Hon. Mohammed Hardi Tufeiru is also the Deputy Ranking Member and member for Nantong constituency.
It was expected that all the twenty-five members of the committee would be present to review, analyse and interrogate the various ministries on the 2016 Auditor-General’s report.
After a five-day sitting of the committee, 24 members were present throughout the hearing.This represents a 96 percent turnout of members.
Only one member, Mr. Alexander Afenyo Markin did not show up in all the five days. Reasons for his absence is yet to be known.
Time of Sitting
Before the commencement of the committee’s hearing, Acting Director of the Public Affairs of Parliament, Ms. Kate Addo issued a communiqué that the committee will start its work from Monday, August 13 to Friday, August 17, 2018, at 10am each day.
Out of the five days hearing, Wednesday, August 15 and Friday, August 17 were rescheduled to 12:00 noon.
Wednesday’s hearing was delayed due to the first morning meeting of the Finance Committee on the seven collapsed private banks.
On Friday, a Former Member of Parliament, Mr. J. H. Mensah was laid in state at the forecourt of the Statehouse, and so hearing on that day was shifted to 12:00 noon, due to the fact that some members on the committee had to attend the funeral.
The Ministries, Departments and other Agencies (MDAs) before the committee
Twenty-one ministries were expected to be present before the committee to answer questions on various topical issues of the Departments and Agencies under the various ministries.
All the summoned Ministries, Departments and Agencies appeared before the committee as expected.
The overall financial impact of weaknesses and irregularities identified in the course of the audit amounted to GH¢2,165,542,375.14
Irregularities recorded in the 2016 Auditor-General’s report is categorised into seven different types.
These are Tax Irregularities, Cash Irregularities, Outstanding debts/loans, Payroll Irregularities, Contract Irregularities, Rent payment Irregularities and Stores/Procurement Irregularities.
The total cash irregularities amounted to GH¢2,053,622,215.68, representing 95% of the total irregularities.
These irregularities cut across the MDAs and were attributed to unapproved/unjustified disbursement, dishonoured cheques, unaccounted revenue, unsupported payment vouchers, unauthorised transfers, funds to bank not credited, unpresented payment vouchers, payment of public funds into personal bank accounts, belated/non-lodgement of public funds, unaccounted funds, misapplication of funds and unauthorised use of Internal Generated Fund (IGF).
Included in the total cash irregularity of GH¢2,053,622,215.68 was an amount of GH¢1,561,434,333.31 withdrawn from the petroleum revenue accounts without the knowledge of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) management.
There were 100 registered Value Added Tax (VAT) traders who filed their returns at the Medium Tax Offices (MTOs) and Small Tax Offices (STOs) but owed a total of GH¢11,934,957.00 as at December 2015.
The irregularities were traced mainly to failure on the part of the Ghana Revenue Authority to collect tax revenue and also apply measures and sanctions stipulated in Sections 135(2) and 136 of the Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592) for tax administration.
There was an amount of GH¢23,450,000.49, involving procurement of 46,600 units of Street lighting Lamps from Vision and Sports Enterprise by the Ministry of Local Government, but was not paid for after delivery on July 18, 2016.
These irregularities were due mainly to the failure of MDAs to obtain the required number of quotations, splitting of procurement contracts and exceeding authorised thresholds.
Payroll irregularities amounting to GH¢4,381,994.51 was recorded during the period under review.
This was due mainly to payments of unearned salaries to former staff as a result of delays in deleting their names from the payroll, as well as delay in transferring unclaimed pensions and salaries to Government chest by the banks.
A significant amount of this irregularity of GH¢6,775,974.47 was a support in the form of agricultural inputs such as certified seeds, fertilizers, herbicides and vehicles to motivate farmers expand their farms, which the farmers had failed to pay.
Contract irregularities noted during the period under review amounted to GH¢13,006,034.86, including GH¢12,476,152.86 as contract sum for six projects awarded by the Department of Urban Roads, Accra.
It also covered abandoned projects, delay in the execution, shoddy constructional works and non-execution of works after payment of mobilisation.
Out of the total irregularity of GH¢9,049,219.49, it was identified that a total indebtedness of GH¢6,657,597.90 was incurred by institutions and 18 individuals in respect of ground and staff rent in the Sekondi Metropolis.
It was revealed at the committee hearing by the report that cheques were issued to Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and other agencies for payments.
Most accounts of the cheques were either empty or did not have enough funds.
A total amount of GH¢581,061.83 was lost through dishonoured cheques.
Unearned salaries were recorded in all the various ministries.
It also recorded the highest irregularity under the Cash Irregularity in the 2016 Auditor-General’s report.
The total amount of unearned salaries recorded was GH¢927,687.87.
Diversion of Government funds into Private Accounts
Review of the Birth and Death Registry’s records in Wa revealed that the Registrar failed to lodge a total revenue of GH¢224,760.00 into the approved bank account of the agency.
The Registrar, Mr. Francis Kupo, lodged the amount into a private welfare account number, 20014010988-01 at the National Investment Bank, Wa.