Ghana lost GH¢2.5b in 2009 – Auditor-General

The Ghana cedi

Ghana lost more than GH¢2.5 billion as a result of financial irregularities in the various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), according to the 2009 Auditor-General’s Report.

Out of the total, GH¢2,537,659, 001 got lost through financial malfeasance, out of which GH¢2,485,697,863, representing 90.3 per cent of the financial loss, went to ghost names on the payroll of the country’s foreign missions.

A breakdown indicates that in 2009 the Value Added Tax (VAT) Service, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) missed GH¢7,392,358 in uncollected taxes and others, compared to GH¢27,645,039 in 2008.

The report noted that GH¢14,039,007 was lost to cash irregularities in 2009, as against GH¢460,786,338 in 2008; store/procurement irregularities siphoned GH¢1,270,295 from the country’s coffers, against GH¢898,350 in 2008, while contract irregularities consumed GH¢229,685, compared to GH¢3,371,320 in 2008.

According to the report, irregularities arising out of the breakdown of internal control still existed.

Additionally, it made significant findings, including a major breakdown of controls over tax administration, cash management and the non ­collection of debts, procurement irregularities, unsupported payments, stores irregularities, misappropriation of cash payment and unearned salaries.

Chronicling the malfeasance in some of the MDAs, the report said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) wasted GH¢11,993,035 because it had no clear policy guidelines to regulate the payment of allowances to officials, with overtime, weekend and standard monthly allowances pegged at dollar rates and amounting to more than the gross monthly salaries of the officials in question.

It explained that although the Auditor-Gener­al had directed that officers who worked overtime should be paid in accordance with Section 35 of the Labour Act 2003, the Minister of Finance had failed to comply.

At the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, 114 contractors who received funds totalling GH¢ 1.2 million as mobilisation fund did not execute their projects.

Furthermore, 10 contractors who were granted mobilisation advances for the construc­tion of affordable houses in Wa defaulted but the advances had not been recovered.

A total of GH¢282,958 was misappropriated at the Ministry of Health as a result of non-adher­ence to financial rules, with failure to obtain expenditure supporting documents to substantiate payments amounting to GH¢282,958.

The story at the Ghana Statistical Service is no different. Its inability to maintain a log book for fuel purchases resulted in GH¢105,183 being unaccounted for.

The report noted with concern the recurring nature of the irregularities every year, saying, “Finding lasting solutions to the problems can save the nation millions of cedis, improve service delivery to taxpayers and strengthen public con­fidence and trust in the accountability process within the public sector.”

Reacting to the findings of the report at a press conference organised by the Committee for joint Action in (CJA), the Convenor of the CJA, Mr Kwasi Adu, called on President Mills to “make a difference by insisting that measures be taken to recover stolen money or misapplied state assets”.

He also urged the President to tackle the institutional problems which made theft and wastage of public resources possible.

Mr Adu observed that “the fight against cor­ruption and maladministration is an important part of the mandate of all governments”.

A leading member of the CJA, Mr Kwesi Pratt, added his voice to the call for transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s resources.

He said the President’s sincerity and honesty, which he (Mr Pratt) could vouch for anywhere, was not enough to deal with the canker but rather concrete actions that would serve as a deterrent to others.

“Societies are changed through the collective effort of citizens through our rights-and responsi­bilities and we must do everything possible to eliminate these annual irregularities which will not encourage the taxpayer,” he stressed.

Source: Daily Graphic

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