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Auditor General indicts Ghana’s Washington Mission officer over “missing” visa fees

…Ex-Tourism Minister, MP Queenstar Pokuah Sawyerr, Free SHS Secretariat also accused 

A new report of the Auditor-General shows that grand corruption and waste of public funds is not going away.  

Among a raft of findings is the indictment of the Honorary Consul General at Ghana’s Washington Mission and Houston Consulate for not being able to account for visa fees totalling US$354,760.00 (or two million cedis at prevailing exchange rates).

The Free SHS Secretariat is also accused of misapplying more than nineteen (19) million cedis of its allocations.

In addition, the Auditor-General says Ex-Tourism Minister Catherine Afeku is keeping three official vehicles despite leaving office.

MP Queenstar Pokuah Sawyerr is accused of spending GH¢39,000.00 of her MP allocation on non-existent works.

These are contained in 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 big picture

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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: 

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Procurement is the number one corruption risks – OCP

Madam Andie Okon, a Community Capacity Building Manager of Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), says procurement is the number one of all corruption risks with 57 per cent of foreign cases of bribery attributed to public contracts.

She, therefore, called for Open Contracting Data Standards in such engagements to curb corruption.

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Ghana’s corruption performance has been in decline since 2012 – Mary Awelana Addah

In spite of a number of legislations passed which put in place a solid legal framework for combatting corruption, Ghana has failed to make significant progress in its fight against corruption.

The observation was made by Mary Awelana Addah, Programmes Manager at the Ghana Integrity Initiative.

She made the comment at a Leadership Dialogue Series organized by the Centre for Social Justice, under the theme, Uprooting Public Sector and Political Corruption in Ghana.

She said, “the passage of legislations like the Whistle Blower Act, Declaration of Assets and Disqualification, Act 1998 (Act 550), Financial Administration Act, 2003 (Act 654), the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) and the Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act 658) should have placed Ghana as a shining example of nations with higher integrity, unfortunately, the story today is the opposite”

According to her, the evidence of Ghana’s fight against corruption per surveys such as the Corruption Perception index since 2012, when the index became comparable doesn’t paint an encouraging picture, with a 2020 score of 43 out of a possible clean score of 100 and ranked 75th out of 180 countries/territories.

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Social Auditing Clubs trained to monitor development projects

Social Auditing Clubs (SACS) have been charged to ensure the implementation of audit recommendations at the Metropolitan, Municipal, and the District Assemblies (MMDAs).

They should also ensure the auditing of community-based development projects.

Mr. Jacob Tettch Abuno, the Project Coordinator of Ghana Integrity Initiate (GII), made the call in a speech at a day’s Zonal level capacity building training in Cape Coast.

The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) organized the training for SACS members from Central and Western Regions.

Mr Abuno said the training was to strengthen the capacity of members to monitor development projects and to engage duty bearers at their localities in the fight against corruption.

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Auditor General finds 25 financial irregularities at Cape Coast varsity

…As total infractions hit GHC5.46bn at end of 2019

The Auditor General has discovered that 25 instances of financial irregularity took place at the University of Cape Coast and its various colleges and subsidiaries as at the end of 31st December, 2019. 

Corruption Watch’s tabulation of the amount of individual irregularities shows that the infractions involve a total of GHC88,289,417.16. In addition, the amount constitutes 49.09% of irregularities recorded for institutions under the ministry of education. 

According to the Auditor General, “…the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ghartey Ampiah entered into a 10 year Build, Own, Operate and Transfer Agreement with KLEOS UK Ltd for the provision of information and communication technology (ICT) services at a cost of $300,000.00 per year totalling $3,000,000.00 for the contract period without seeking approval from the University Council, the Minister of Education and Public Procurement before committing the University to such financial obligation.” 

The “contract signed by the Vice Chancellor was only witnessed by the Director of ICT services Dr. Regina Gyampoh-Vidogah. Consequently, the Auditor General recommended that “the Vice Chancellor should submit the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer Agreement (BOOT) with KLEOS UK Ltd to the University Council, Minister of Education and Public Procurement Authority for approval, failing which the sanctions in section 92 (1) of the Public Procurement Act shall be applied.”

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Dr. Opuni trial takes a new twist

There has been a new twist to the trial the Dr Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and two others.

The latest devepment is that all the accused have opted to file a submission of no case in their trial for defrauding by false pretences and willfully causing financial loss to the State.

They have also been accused of money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

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GACC charges public institutions to publicize procurement data to curb corruption

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has underscored the need for proactive disclosure of procurement data, to enable the public to access and report corrupt activities in public procurement.

Speaking at a day’s workshop in Accra, on 23th February, 2021, Ms. Faustina Djabatey, Communications Officer at GACC, said, citizens should know about projects being done, the cost involved and as well as the location, in order to eliminate corruption.

“Making procurement data available will enable Civil Society Organisations, the media and the general public to subject such procurements to a thorough scrutiny and if there are any red flag, it will be raised before the contracts are even awarded.

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Contracts for sale: Suspended PPA boss, Adjenim Boateng Adjei should be sacked – CHRAJ to Akufo-Addo

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has said CEO of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) Adjenim Boateng Adjei should be sacked by President Akufo-Addo.

He is also disqualified from holding public office for the next five years.

Mr. Adjei was suspended from office by President Akufo-Addo following an investigative documentary by Manasseh Azure Awuni, which revealed a company he co-owned, has been selling government contracts it won through single-source and restrictive tendering, to the highest bidder.

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Assemblies’ Common Fund rip-off rises to GH¢124.82 million

Some officials of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies mismanaged funds and resources of their assemblies to a financial value of approximately GH¢124.82 million in 2019, the Auditor-General has revealed.

The financial irregularities for 2019 represent a 3.53% rise from the 2018 figure of approximately GH¢120.56 million. In nominal terms, the increase is approximately GH¢4.2m. 

“The findings once again showed lack of commitment on the part of the management of Assemblies in the implementation and enforcement of my audit recommendations towards mitigating infringements of the laws. I also attributed the situation to non-imposition of sanctions to minimise the violations,” says the Auditor-General in a letter transmitting his latest report to the Speaker of Parliament.

Comparative irregularities from 2015 to 2019 financial years
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