Political and institutional leaderships not protecting public purse – Anti-corruption watchers

Political and institutional leaders in Ghana are not protecting the country from losing money in the execution of developmental projects, anti-corruption watchers have said.

This is because governments over the years have failed to use the constitutional and other legal instruments to deal with irregularities, infractions and acts of corruption that the Auditor-General reports annually.

They attributed the recurrence of monetary loss to the State by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to the lack of commitment on the part of political and institutional leaders to implement existing laws and sanction officers punitively.

The comments come on the back of the report of the Auditor-General, which found that financial weaknesses and irregularities among MDAs amounted to GH17.4 billion in 2021, a 36 per cent rise over the GH¢12.85 recorded in 2020.

Madam Linda Ofori Kwaafo, Executive Director, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), said: “We are getting work done, and the figures keep increasing, yet we are not seeing any results.”

The GII Executive Director noted that it was important to hold leadership accountable and said: “If we recover the monies, they should be punished. The repayment alone is not adequate.”

She called for urgent effective implementation of laws and punitive sanctions against individuals and institutions that caused the loss.

Mad. Kwaafo asked the Government to ensure for example, that the Head of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) was made to act after issues of infractions were reported by the Auditor-General.

Mr Joseph Dindiok Kpemka, a former Deputy Attorney General, said: “We are very good at making noise. We talk about irregularities, but nothing is done to solve them completely.”

Mr Kpemka said: “We need to do a balancing. Even Parliament has the power to go the extra mile to ensure accountability. The constitution gives so much power to the executive.”

Private Legal practitioner, Godwin Edudzi Tamakloe, emphasised that the financial irregularities found in MDAs, leading to loss of money, could be curtailed should leaders in the country act on law.

He lamented that the irregularities continued to show in the A-G’s report annually and said with all the powers the A-G had, it must come up with productive procedures to deal with the issues, saying: “He (the A-G) has adopted the posture of Pontius Pilate and has washed his hands off the findings.”

Dr Eric Oduro Osae, Director-General, Internal Audit Agency (IAA), said it had become more critical to strengthen the country’s internal audit mechanisms, deal with the bureaucratic processes that delayed the fight against irregularities and infractions.

He also called on the Government to give the IAA prosecutorial powers, noting that such powers would help the Agency recoup more than the six million Cedis it had recovered for the country as of July 31 this year.

Dr Oduro Osae said: “We don’t have the numbers, so we use the special investigation teams to follow up on some sectors. The internal auditors are not motivated enough. Their conditions of service are appalling, we are working with the government to help change that.”

The 2021 Auditor-General report found that the sum of GH¢1,080,913,824 was lost to the State through irregularities by MDAs.

The A-G said: “We will investigate these matters further and, where appropriate, disallow any items of expenditure that are contrary to law, and surcharge responsible officials accordingly.”

Source: GNA

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