PAC to go after retired officers for repayment of embezzled funds
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament intends to go after retired public servants who misappropriated funds and refuse to pay after service.
At its second public hearing on Tuesday, Mr Kwasi Amoako- Atta, the Minister of Roads and Highways, and a member of PAC, said crime had no time limit and so whether one was on retirement or not, the state would pursue them to recover the monies.
“There are a lot of people in this country who think that if they embezzle funds or steal monies, which constitute criminality, and they go on retirement, that should be the end of it. That is not true; crime is not time-bound,” he said.
“Crime has no time limitation. Even if you are on retirement, you can still be pursued to answer your actions.”
Mr Amoako-Atta said this when the Fisheries Commission, an Agency under the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, which appeared before the PAC, failed to provide accounts for interests it gave to some of its officers for foreign travel and the organisation of various activities.
The Commission was asked to provide accounts for a sum of $20,900.00, which was given to some officers for foreign travel and had not been accounted for at the time of the audit.
The other infraction had to do with the payment of GH¢30,220 to some officers to undertake various programmes, which had not been accounted for.
The Auditors had recommended that the officers provided receipts for the money and failure to do so would result in treating those monies as advances to them recoverable from their emoluments.
Mr Amoako-Atta inquired whether the monies had been recovered and paid into government coffers.
The Finance Officer of the Commission, however, said it was difficult for the Commission to get either the receipts or monies from the officers involved due to their retirement.
He said some of those former staffs had become visually impaired while others had died so recovering the money had been an arduous task.
Nonetheless, Mr Amoako-Atta and other members of the Committee told the Commission that its responses to the Committee were an indication of “how lackadaisical it has acted in recovering the monies from these retired officers because there are so many ways the monies can be recovered.”
The PAC, therefore, said the Commission could have deducted the monies from the retirement benefits of those officers, but it chose not to do so.
It advised the Commission to endeavour to recover the monies from those former staff or their families.
PAC commenced sittings on Monday, January 16, to examine the Auditor General’s Report on public accounts of the Government for 2020 and scrutinise the report on the accounts of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
The accounts of public boards, corporations, and other statutory institutions for the year 2020 would also be looked into per the findings of the report.
Proceedings of the almost two-week sitting are expected to be concluded on Friday, January 27, 2023, according to a statement issued by the Public Affairs Directorate of Parliament, copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
The ministries of Finance, Youth and Sports, and Fisheries and Aquaculture were among those that appeared before the PAC on Tuesday.
The Controller and Accountant-General, Mr Kwasi Kwaning-Bosompem, and the Commissioner General of Ghana Revenue Authority, Dr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, also led officials from their respective institutions to respond to queries cited in the Report.