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Corruption Watch Breakdown of ‘Auditor General’s Report on Public Accounts’

Introduction 

The document we focusing on is the “Report of the Auditor-General on the Public  Accounts of Ghana: Ministries, Departments and other Agencies for the year  ended 31 December, 2020.” 

The Office of the Auditor-General, under the hand of Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, Acting Auditor-General transmitted this report to the Speaker of Parliament on 11  June, 2021.  

The report states that when the Auditor-General and his team set out to Audit  accounts of MDAs to ascertain the state of their accounts at the close of the year  2020, they were guided by certain objectives.  

They set out to determine whether: 

⮚ Proper records and books of accounts were maintained 

⮚ The accounts were properly kept 

⮚ All public monies due were fully accounted for 

⮚ Rules and procedures applicable were sufficient to ensure an effective  check on the assessment, collection and proper allocation of the revenue  ⮚ Monies were expended for the purposes for which they were appropriated  and the expenditures made as authorized and 

⮚ Programmes and activities were undertaken with due regard to economy,  efficiency and effectiveness in relation to the resources utilised and results  achieved 

At the end of the exercise, the Auditor-General reports that there were financial  irregularities amounting to TWO BILLION, FIFTY-THREE MILLION, ONE HUNDRED  AND SEVENTY-SIX THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINE GHANA CEDIS  AND EIGHTY-FIVE PESEWAS (GH¢2,053,176,449.85.). 

In other words, the Auditor-General’s report says that some MDAs in this country  have not efficiently utilized or accounted for almost 2.1 billion cedis of public  funds as at the end of December, 2020. 

In paragraph 11 of the report, the A-G comments that “The irregularities  represent either losses that had been incurred by the State through the  impropriety or lack of probity in the actions and decisions of public officers or on  the other hand, the savings that could have been made, if public officials and  Institutions had duly observed the public financial management framework put in  place to guide their conduct and also safeguard national assets and resources.” 

The A-G categorises the irregularities under seven broad themes, namely: Tax  Irregularities, Cash Irregularities, Indebtedness/loans/Advances, Payroll  Irregularities, Stores/Procurement Irregularities, Rent payment Irregularities and Contract Irregularities. 

However, if you go into the specifics, you find breaches that fall under corruption themes such as misapplication, misappropriation, theft, procurement infractions,  etc.  

Comparative analysis 

The 2.1 billion cedis of financial irregularities in 2020 portrays a general  improvement in the public financial management system when compared with  outcomes for preceding years. For instance, it is the lowest amount of  irregularities discovered since 2017. However, the 2020 figure is more than  double of the 892.4 million cedis of financial irregularities discovered for 2017.  The Auditor-General uncovered financial irregularities amounting to almost 5.2  billion cedis in 2018 and near 3.1 billion cedis in 2019 at MDAs.

Source: Report of Auditor-General on MDAs as at 31 December, 2020 

Tax, cash, stores/procurement and rent irregularities decreased sharply from  2019 levels. However, debt/loans/advances, payroll and contract irregularities  increased astronomically from 2019 levels.  

Some specific cases 

We have selected to focus on the following six cases, which largely comprise of  cases of misapplication of funds. The cases contravene Sections 7 and 52 of the  Public Financial Management (PFM) Act, 2016 (Act 921), as well as, Regulation 78  of the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (L.I. 2378). 

1. FREE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL (FSHS) SECRETARIAT (Paragraphs 214-216) A-G’s finding: Misapplication of funds – GH¢19,217,802.00 

Details: We noted during our review that, between January 2019 and July 2019, a  total of GH¢19,217,802.00 received for Free SHS to be utilised for various planned  activities were rather advanced to two Institutions without definite terms of  recovery. As at the time of audit, March 2020, management had not recovered 

the amount from the beneficiaries who are shown in the table below: Source: Report of Auditor-General on MDAs as at 31 December, 2020 

We recommended that Management should ensure that the total amount of  GH¢19,217,802.00 advanced to the two organisations, are paid back into the Free  SHS Account. 

2. WASHINGTON MISSION (Paragraphs 690-691) 

A-G’s Finding – Consular fees not accounted for by the Honorary Consul General – US$354,760.00 (or two million cedis at prevailing exchange rates) 

Details: Our review of activities at the Washington Mission and Houston  Consulate showed that, between September 2018 and September 2019, the  Honorary Consul-General levied each visa applicant US$100.00 and US$200.00 for  “Express/Rush Service”, but accounted for US$60.00 and US$100.00 as though  they were regular service and kept the difference of US$40 and US$100 on each  application. The Honorary Consul-General, between September 2018 and  September 2019 collected total visa fees of US$843,900.00, but accounted for  US$458,900.00. The difference of US$354,760.00 remained unaccounted for by  the Honorary Consul-General. 

We recommended that, the Head of Chancery should recover the difference of  US$354,760.00 from the Honorary Consul-General, failing which the amount  should be recovered from the Head of Chancery. 

3. MINISTRY OF TOURISM, ARTS AND CULTURE – HEAD OFFICE (Paragraphs  569-572)

A-G’s Finding: Misapplication of Marine Drive project funds – GH¢387,196.00 

Details: We noted that funds meant for the Marine Drive project amounting to  GH¢387,196.00 was misapplied for the celebration of AFRIMA, Kundum Festival  and other activities. The table below provides the details: 

Source: Report of Auditor-General on MDAs as at 31 December, 2020 

We recommended that the Chief Director should ensure a refund from the  operations account into the Marine Drive project account, failing which the amount should be recovered from the Chief Director. 

A-G’s Finding: Failure to hand over official vehicles of the Ministry 

Details: We noted from our inspection of the Ministry’s vehicles that five official vehicles were in the possession of three former officials who separated from the 

Ministry through reassignment and terminations. Details as shown below: Source: Report of Auditor-General on MDAs as at 31 December, 2020 

We recommended that the Chief Director should ensure the recovery of the vehicles from the above-named individuals. We further recommended that the  use of the vehicles by the individuals should attract rental charges at the current  rental rate for the period during which the vehicles have been in their possession. 

4. MINISTRY OF HEALTH (Paragraphs 286-287) 

A-G’s Finding: Misapplication of drug funds – GH¢288,602.00 

Details: Our review of the payment records of 11 BMCs [Budget Management  Centers] revealed that transfers amounting to GH¢288,602.26 were made from  the Drug accounts into the Service accounts for recurrent expenditure during the  period of audit. The breakdown is provided in the Table below:

Source: Report of Auditor-General on MDAs as at 31 December, 2020 

We recommended that the Heads of the BMCs should ensure immediate refund  of their respective amounts into the Drug account and desist from such practice. 

5. MENTAL HEALTH AUTHORITY (Paragraphs 331-333) 

A-G’s Finding: Programme funds not accounted for – GH¢137,327.00 

Details: Our examination of the payment vouchers showed that in February 2019,  Programme funds amounting to GH¢366,726.51 paid to seven partners on behalf of WHO to support Quality Rights implementation had only GH¢229,399.05 accounted for, leaving a difference of GH¢137,327.46. 

We recommended that the CEO should ensure that all implementing partners  immediately refund the moneys, failing which the amount should be recovered  from the CEO. 

A-G’s Finding: Payment for no work done amounting to GH¢39,000.00 

Details: We noted that an amount of GH¢39,000.00 was released to the Hon.  Queenstar Pokuah Sawyerr as MP’s share of the National Health Insurance  allocation for health-related interventions. However, no expenditure documents  and certificate for work done were provided to authenticate the payments.  

We recommended that the Director, Quaning Kofi Mends, the Accountant Charles  Toboh and Hon. Queenstar Pokuah Sawyerr, should refund the total amount of  GH¢39,000.00.

Source: Frederick Asiamah – Corruption Watch Investigative Desk

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