Mr Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, the Auditor-General, has asked heads of public institutions to show keen interest and heighten their supervisory role over finances and financial transactions.
This would help in reducing the number of irregularities and financial infractions recorded in public institutions in the country.
The Auditor-General said this during a media engagement after the launch of the 2021 Financial Year Audits of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
The launch of the 2021 audit report is to mark the official commencement of work on financial statements of MDAs and MMDAs, and submit same to Parliament by June 30, 2022.
The event also saw the launch of the “Citizenseye,” a mobile application that enables Ghanaians to rate and report issues relating to public services in the country for prompt action.
This formed part of efforts by the Audit Service in implementing the Whistle Blower Act, 2006 (Act 720), as the app provides anonymity for individuals who made report to the Service.
The 2020 report showed that the financial infractions committed by various MDAs and MMDAs, including cash payroll irregularities, procurement, tax irregularities, stores irregularities and contract irregularities, amounted to GH₵12,856,172,626.
This was an increase of 235.11 percent from the GH₵5.468 billion recorded in 2019.
The irregularities were from trade debtors, staff debtors and outstanding loans in the year of review, amounting to GH₵10.067 billion.
On the way forward, Mr Asiedu said it was important for the heads of public institutions to show keen interest in financial transactions that occurred in their various institutions.
He said: “There’s this notion that if you’re the head of institution, you’re not concerned about the financial transactions that goes on, and for that reason some accountants are taking advantage of it.”
However, he said: “If the heads of institutions are showing interest in the finances and are given financial reporting everyday/week/month, the accountants will know that there’s supervision over their activities. We believe it will minimise the incidence of these infractions.”
On corruption, the Auditor-General said there was the need to collectively and diligently fight against the canker in every sphere of the economy, devoid of political colouration.
Mr Asiedu said: “We should not fight [corruption] on the colours of politics. We must fight as citizens of our nation, and this will enable us to gather enough evidence required to bring those offenders to book.”
He lauded the Government for the support given to the Service in carrying out its mandate, in the form of budget increment, financial clearance to recruit more staff, and buy cross-country vehicles for operational purposes.
The government in 2017 provided a budgetary allocation of GH₵184.4 million to the Service, which increased to GH₵254 in 2018; 307 million in 2019 then to 395.6 million in 2020.
The Service was allocated GH₵481.67 million in 2021 and in 2022, GH₵536 million.
Mrs Abena Osei-Asare, the Deputy Minister of Finance, commenting on the irregularities, said the Government had commenced a “name and shame” scheme to ensure accountability and reduce the irregularities recorded in public institutions.
She said: “The mere fact that the Public Accounts Committee invites the MDAs to appear in court alone, we can address about 50 percent of the infractions. So we believe that the naming and shaming will go a long way to make these MDAs sit up and do the needful.”
She indicated that the Ministry was collaborating with the Internal Audit Agency and the media to enforce compliance of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (PFMA Act 921) for effective accountability by public institutions.
She added that the introduction of the Ghana.gov payment platform, E-Procurement and other digital avenues by the Government would help reduce human interaction, and block some of the leakages recorded in the public financial system.