Insider deals pop up in the latest audit report

The Auditor-General report on the Performance Audit Report on Capital Projects funded through District Development Facilities in 30 Districts Assemblies Contractors is suspecting that district officials give insider information during the bidding process.

The report which, scoped three projects each from 30 Assemblies constructed between 2008 and 2019, noted that in awarding the contracts, the contract sums in many instances turn out to be the same or ridiculously close to the budgeted figures.

It said the situation was widespread and showed that projections were skewed towards predetermined figures.

The report for example said the Construction of four storey Community Centre at Obeweku Chokor, Accra Metropolitan Assembly budgeted GH¢4,722,305.00 and the contract was awarded at GH¢4,722,304.95.

Similarly, it said the construction of one No. 4 Unit Police quarters at Japekrom, in the Jaman South Municipal, the contract was awarded at GH¢195,097.45, GH¢97.45 higher than the budgeted cost of GH¢195,000.00.

In other instances, the report said the budgeted costs of the projects were less than the contract sums because the total budget ceiling that the Assembly planned with was insufficient to cover the entire cost of all the projects the Assembly was undertaking.

“For example, the budgeted amount of GH¢149,548.30 that was captured in the 2016 budget for the 6-unit Classroom Block at Sokoban was GH¢170,363.08 lower than the contract sum,” it said.

“For the Fencing and Landscaping at Oti Clinic, the budgeted amount of GH¢125,000.00 that was captured in the 2016 budget was below the eventual contract sum by GH¢274,638.91”.

The report said District Works Engineers needed to improve the Accuracy of Estimates to support the Budgeting process.

It said the subsection (1) of section 92 of the Local Government Act 1993, Act 462, and required Assemblies to submit to the regional coordinating Council a detail budget, step 13.1 of the NDPC guidelines for preparing Medium-Term Development Plan (MTDP) (2014–2017) specifies that DAs should link the Composite Budget with the Annual Action Plan (AAP).

It said the budget should be considered as allocating financial resources for the implementation of the District Medium-Term Development Plan by Departments of the Assemblies through the Composite Budgeting for the achievement of the objective of the plan.

The report said without the preparation and approval of the budget, the Assembly would not be able to access funds for the execution of projects in the AAP.

It said the guidelines required the DAs to employ the Medium- Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) process in costing the activities, since it links the expenditure to District goals, objectives, and output as outlined in the District plan.

“We noted that at the time of budgeting, Budget Offices allocated monies to various activities in anticipation of budgetary releases from Central government. In this regard, Budget officers assign figures to capital projects without drawings from which cost estimates are calculated,” it said.

It said the budgeting process for capital projects was, not informed by any technical data but based on assumptions and that District Works Department (DWEs), multiply previous contract sums of similar works by a scale factor and provide them to Budget Officers as estimates for new works.

“We observed that a percentage is added discretionarily to contract sum of previous works as the basis for budgetary allocation to new projects,” it said.

Source: GNA

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