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Auditor-General wants power to prosecute as he rejects payment of over GH¢5.4b

Daniel Y. Domelevo

The Audit Service has rejected a total of GH¢5.479 billion out of the liabilities of GH¢11.279 billion submitted by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to the Finance Ministry for payment. He is also asking the Attorney-General to empower his office to be able to prosecute offenders.

This was based on comparison of figures captured by the Audit Service at the various MDAs, which were backed by documents, compared to the high figures submitted by the same MDAs as their liabilities to the Finance Ministry. 

The basis of the rejection of the amount was due to the absence of relevant documentations such as warrants, contracts documents, invoices, procurements records, Stored Received Advices, among other considerations.

Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the Auditor-General, who made this known at a press conference in Accra on Monday, urged “anyone aggrieved by the disallowance to appeal to the High Court”.

“I must say that we are very happy that we did the audit because the amount rejected was not near the one per cent I thought, not even 10 per cent but close to 50 per cent,” he stated.

He said any payment made without following the due process prescribed under Article 187 (9) of the 1992 Constitution may lead to surcharge of any person who authorised or made the payment or the one who received the payment.

The Report of the Auditor-General on the liabilities of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), which covered January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016, has been presented to the Speaker of Parliament and would later be tabled before the House.

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

The Report covered areas such as the determination of the veracity of the outstanding expenditures and commitment of the MDAs, which were submitted to the Ministry of Finance and to ascertain whether government received value for money on works completed or work in progress.

The 2017 budget hearings disclosed that there existed within MDAs, outstanding commitment by government for payment running into billions of Ghana cedis.

The Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia in April last year, alleged that, outstanding government liabilities incurred by the previous government amounted to some GHC 7 Billion.

Mr Domelevo said in view of that, the Service validated all claims submitted by the MDAs, examining in particular, warrants, contracts documents, invoices, procurement records, Stores Received Advices and  other relevant documents supporting  the liabilities as well as the bank statements of the MDAs to ensure that liabilities  have not been paid.

To control Government expenditure and minimise the risk of wrongful payments, the Auditor-General advised the MDAs to maintain proper records of all payments made to suppliers, contractors and anyone, who had rendered services to the State.

Mr Domelevo proposed an amendment of the Internal Audit Act 2000, to ensure that internal auditors in the public service become staff of the Internal Audit Agency.

This would ensure their independence from Principal Spending Officers so that internal audit is done in accordance with acceptable standards.

He recommended that the necessary disciplinary actions, including criminal prosecution, are taken against public officers who presented fraudulent and unsubstantiated claims to the Ministry of Finance for payment.

The Auditor-General said henceforth, the Service would disallow and surcharge officials who commit Government outside the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), as required by the Section 25 (6) of the Public Financial Management Act of 2016.

He commended the media for the interest it had shown in the audit report, saying; ‘‘I said to my colleagues that if Ghanaians don’t take us serious after this assignment, we won’t do it anymore, but today I can see that we have increased our resolve to do more.’’ 

Source: GNA

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