Auditor-General to surcharge public officials for misappropriating funds

Mr. Daniel Domelevo with former President John Mahama

The Auditor-General (AG) will surcharge public officials, who have misappropriated funds.

The AG, Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, said he had activated his constitutional authority, under Article 187 (7) (b) of the Constitution, by disallowing the payment of all expenditures that were labelled as rejected liabilities amounting to GH¢5.479 billion.

He said after a review of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) liabilities claims submitted to the Ministry of Finance for payment from January to December 31, 2016, the Audit Service certified a total claim of GH¢6.331 billion out of a total of GH¢11.810 billion. 

“We have in accordance with Article 187 (7) (b) of the Constitution disallowed a total claim of GH¢5.479 billion of which payment cannot be made without complying with Article 187(9) of the Constitution,” he said.

In line with Article 187 (9), he therefore, urged anyone aggrieved by this disallowance to appeal to the High Court for redress.

He warned that any payment without following the process prescribed by Article 187(9) might lead to a surcharge against the person who authorized or made the payment or the one who received the payment.

Mr Domelevo sounded the warning at a press briefing on the 2016 Liabilities of MDAs Report for the year ending December 31, 2016, on Monday in Accra, which had already been submitted to Parliament.  

“Anybody authorised would receive the certificate. If you are authorised and we agree to pay, you will get a certificate, and the one who receives the money will equally receive a copy of the certificate. So let’s be mindful of that,” he said.

“And let me also advice that, that is the way forward in our audit for now. We are not going to finish our audit and wait for the TV show at the Public Accounts Committee any more. When we finish our audit, we raise observation against you, and you decide to ignore it, we will disallow the expenditure and surcharge you,” he added.

Mr Domelevo said beginning this year, they would have to apply the law; stating that “We have so much powers under the law, and we have allowed it to sleep. We have slept over it. Because under section 29 (2) it says that anyone who does not meet the 30 days deadline, what should we do to him? We should stop his salary.”

He noted that: “It’s in the law that once we make an observation, after 30 days, and you decide not to respond, you should not be paid. And we have to start that now. We have to block people’s salaries now. And even after blocking your salaries, if you don’t come, we will now disallow the expenditure and surcharge you.”

He said the first regulation of financial administration was to make records available in the course of audit; declaring that “anyone who is managing or keeping public funds, has a statutory duty to keep records, and saying that “We cannot find it, is no excuse”.

He said public financial management was not about trust, but evidence.

The AG also appealed to the Attorney-General for prosecutorial powers to enable him to prosecute people who misappropriate public funds.

The report was conducted in accordance with Section 16 of the Audit Service Act 2000, (Act 584) with the aim of making recommendation for the payment of certified claims of MDAs.

The report also recommend that the necessary disciplinary actions (including criminal prosecution) should be taken against public officers who presented fraudulent and unsubstantiated claims to the Ministry of Finance for payment.

Mr George Swanzy Winful, Deputy AG, in-charge of Central Government Department, who gave an overview of the report, said in order to control Government expenditure and to minimize the risk of wrongful Payments, MDAs must maintain proper records.

He said one surprising thing they came across while compiling the report was that some MDAs, do not know that they had the legal responsibility of protecting public funds.

In attendance at the meeting was the Board Chairman of the Audit Service, Professor Edward Agyeman Duah.

Source: GNA

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