Corruption according to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), “involves the public sector and private people alike. In Ghana corruption has been with us since the pre-colonial days and has even become endemic throughout the various governments since independence. Corruption has been cited by some scholars as the main reason for the overthrow of democratically elected governments in Ghana.”
Indeed, there have been several strategies implemented to curb the spat of corruption in Ghana but to no avail.
However hard the country has tried to fight corruption, it hasn’t been successful.
IEA also seconds that, “The Auditor-General’s reports on the audit of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) over the years, the revelations of the public sittings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the findings of the various investigations, committees and commissions have confirmed that corruption in Ghana is real and not just a perception.”
In pursuant to protect the public purse, the Auditor General, came out with the act of incorporating into his regular audit reports to Parliament, a special report on disallowance and surcharge.
According to a statement published on the website of the Ghana Audit Service,
Ref. No. AG.01/109/Vol.2/111, and copied to the Hon. Speaker of Parliament, the Auditor General, Mr. Daniel Yaw Domelevo, said, the Ghana Audit Service was putting in place systems to ensure that disallowance and surcharge became part of the Audit process going forward, as stipulated in Article 187(9)(b) of the 1992 Constitution.
On the backdrop of this, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) consortium, comprising GII, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, SEND-GHANA and in collaboration with the Ghana Audit Service (GAS), held a forum on the Auditor General’s mandate on disallowance and surcharges in Ghana, on Thursday April 11, 2019, at La Palm Royale Beach Hotel.
The aim of the forum was to ensure public awareness of the Auditor General’s mandate, its implementation and its implication for Ghana’s Public Financial Management System and the fight against corruption in general.
With respect to the changing landscape of Audit in Ghana, the Auditor General, Mr. Daniel Yaw Domelevo, said, it was apt to adopt new methods of delivering services to the citizenry, as the face of Auditing has been changing. Saying, “In fact, there is a call to collaborate with public sector actors, civil society, the media the more than what we have done before. Because, there is the realization that, we are serving public and we cannot ignore the same people that we are serving. So we must work with the public, hence, there will be a bit more of media interactions in the years to come…. so that the public will get to understand what we do maybe better.”
Speaking in an interview with News Ghana, the Auditor General indicated that, they’ve decided to go away from the financial audit, to do other types of audit which they think will help the country. One of it he said was Procurement Audit, which they started last week.
Saying, “The Auditor General is required under section 91 of public procurement Act, to do annual procurement Audit. So we have started that… we are selecting a few institutions including the PPA itself, because we want to use them as a benchmark against others. Because, they are experts in procurement so it’s better we look at how they do their procurement and use it as a yastick against other people. We have started that Audit and we think it will help get value for money.” Stressing that, “It is not a witch hunting at all….we just want to ensure whether the country is getting value for money.”
Mr. Domelevo, also said, they started another type of audit which is the construction audit. “We have moved onto the roads and into government’s construction to see if the roads are being constructed according to specification or the buildings are being constructed according to specification.”
For example, he noted that, his office was going to conduct value for money Audit on all the project that will be constructed under the Sinohydro deal which was commissioned by the President last Wednesday.
“Once they start construction, we will pick on a few of the roads and do it. Value for money can also happen even after the project. I will like to send an admonishing to the contractors who will be doing the job, we don’t hate you but you can’t take our monies away,” he added.
Again, he said they have completed a value for money Audit for all the community day senior high schools, known as the E-Block Schools, that were started under the erstwhile President Mahama’s administration.
“We are doing Construction Audits. As at now, we have looked at the E-Blocks; all those schools that were built. We have gone to Audit all of them,” the Auditor General said.
Mr. Domelevo, strongly advocated that, Internal Audit must keenly be looked at and going forward, there was the need for a lot of collaborations. Intimating that, “Protecting the public purse cannot be left alone in the hands of one person. Actually, regulation 51 of CI 70, which is the Audit Service regulation, provides that, we should set up a public complaints unit where the public can report at cases of funds, public funds and public resources and as such. We have a department now, called the department of public service complaints, and there is a Director in charge of that directorate where people can lodge complaints.”
He further entreated all and sundry to help them to work together. Adding that, “Going forward, we are going to have a lot more of this public engagements, because it is dangerous to fight corruption, but it is worst if you fight it silently or quietly.”
In her welcome remarks, Mrs. Linda Ofori-Kwarfo, the executive Director of GII and also the Chief of party for Accountable Democratic Institutions and Systems Strengthening (ADISS), She said, Ghana beyond aid does not only mean finding ways of increasing domestic resource mobilization, it also means that, there was the need to pull out the holes in the public purse and prevent leakages from public funds.
Mrs. Ofori-Kwarfo, indicated that, the aforementioned was why the work of the Auditor General and the Audit Service was so important, as it allows the state to uncover financial irregularities, retrieve misappropriated money and most importantly, strengthen the financial systems at the public institutions in order to avert the financial irregularities in the financial institutions in the first place.
She noted that, “For a long time, civil society has cried about the need to sanction public expenses that were made contrary to our financial loss and recover such money. As well as public funds are embezzled by various actors in both the public and private space.”
“It is partly in this concern that the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) consortium, comprising GII, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, SEND-GHANA, has partnered to implement an Anti-Corruption Intervention known as “Accountable Democratic Institutions and Systems Strengthening” (ADISS), funded by the USAID for four years,” She revealed.
Mrs. Ofori-Kwarfo, also said ADISS seeks to contribute to building the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to understand and effectively engage with Parliament for reform enactment of Anti-Corruption legislation and instrument.
On his behalf, the country Director of SEND-GHANA, and an Advocacy Specialist for ADISS, Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh, on the way forward, said there was the need for the Audit Service to do the work of a good Samaritan, however, it will require CSOs to help the work that they do.
He said, they, as CSOs were going to followup on the court cases on how much will be recovered, in order to update the citizens they represents. Adding that, there was the need to be a continuous engagement with the Audit Service and like minded institutions to have more interactions to update themselves of the development on the field on how to cushion the frontiers of accountability or corruption.
Mr. George, however indicated that, there was the need for the promotion of inter-learning, especially in helping the District Assemblies to learn from their colleagues in terms of how to avoid cases of corruption.
In attendance were, Dr. Eric Oduro Osae, a Facilitator, Mrs. Mary Awelana Addah, Programmes Manager of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Kwasi Boateng Asumeng, Programs Officer of Ghana Anti-Corruption, Rachel Gyabaah, Programs Officer, SEND-GHANA,
other CSOs, representatives from both the public and private institutions, the media and to name a few.