The Auditor-General (AG), Mr. Daniel Yaw Domelevo, has indicated that, Internal Audit in the Public Service is not as effective as it’s supposed to be.
He explained that, the law that regulates Internal Audit in Ghana makes the Internal Auditors dependent or under the very spending officers that they are supposed to check on. Meanwhile, the independence of every Auditor is very important.
“I cannot sufficiently audit if I were made subject to any executive. That is why you see that, under (Article 187 clause 7.a ), it provides that the Auditor General in the performance of his functions under the constitution or any law, is not under the direction and control of anybody,” the Auditor General emphasized.
He was speaking at a symposium dubbed, “Achieving Audit impact through education and media collaboration”, which was organized in Accra by the Ghana Audit Service on Thursday 8th August, 2019, to equip the capacity of the media to better understand the Auditor General’s report which was recently presented to Parliament, in order to educate the public accurately.
According to the Auditor General, currently, Internal Auditors are under the same Chief Directors and Directors who are committing the same infractions.
“The truth of the matter is that, if we want a very efficient Internal Audit, then we must make them independent. And this independence will also bring about their professionalism, ensuring that they will audit according to standards, ensuring that they are also trained so that they can have the right skills that they can use to so their work,” Mr. Domelevo reiterated.
He further disclosed that, one of the key challenges in the public sector in Ghana has been the fact that, there are no consequences for misbehavior or these infractions. Because, people commits these infractions year after year, and the question one would ask is how many of these people are being prosecuted, investigated or even administratively sanctioned?
According to Mr. Daniel Yaw Domelevo, they can only disallow expenditures, and if it has already been paid, then they can surcharge. Saying that, since the Auditor General has no prosecutorial powers, he can not discipline any officer.
He however, noted that, “There is the need for deterrence in the system…. because, for any public financial management system in any part of the world to work well, there must be strong sanctions. People do businesses in this country and do not want to pay taxes and we tolerate it…..so they perpetuate it.”
He therefore, underscored the need for citizens to rise up and demand accountability from public officials and duty bearers.
In his presentation on the submission of accounts for 2018, Mr. Baffour-Atta, the Deputy Auditor General in charge if District Assemblies Department, disclosed that, out of 254 Assemblies, 240 submitted financial statements for validation as required by Section 80 of PFM Act.
He said, 12 Assemblies defaulted and the remaining two were newly created but were not planned to be audited.
On the comparative irregularities from 2014 to 2018 financial years (DACF), he said, the decrease in 2017 total irregularities from GH¢70,173,645.97 in 2016 to GH¢40,929,999.54 largely due to a decrease in total cash irregularities (GH¢32,684,459.20 in 2016 to GH¢7,105,071.10). Delayed returns and consolidation on source deductions.
“On the other hand, in 2018 the total irregularities increased from GH¢40,929,999.54 in 2017 to GH¢120,567,896.78 largely due to contract irregularities. Contract irregularities of GH¢65,618,865.70 represented 54% of the total irregularities identified in 2018. The infraction was attributed to award of new contracts but not completed and abandoned by the Contractors,” Mr. Baffour-Atta, added.o
He therefore, stressed on the need to bring Chiefs, CSOs, members of communities, opinion leaders, retired professionals and well meaning stakeholders together to collaborate to hold management of Assemblies accountable.
Also on his part in his presenting on the 2018 Auditor General’s Report on Commercial Audit, Mr. Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, the Deputy Auditor-General in charge of Commercial Audit Department (CAD), disclosed that, the total irregularities for 2015 was increased by GH¢1,512,003,063 or 76.4% from 2014 figure of GH¢1,799,960,251. This, he said, was due to a sharp increase in cash and tax irregularities.
According to him, 2016 also saw a dramatic decrease of GH¢2,593,878,106 or 366% from the 2015 irregularities figure of GH¢3,311,963,314. And he said, this decrease resulted mainly from GH¢2,402,852,694 and GH¢353,119,221 decreases in debtors, outstanding, loans, recoverable charges and tax Irregularities respectively.
“In 2017, the total irregularities recorded an increase of 1,572 % from GH¢718,085,208 in 2016 to GH¢12,002,880,339 in 2017. The change was as a result of GH¢11,510,875,462 increase in Outstanding Debtors/Loans, and Recoverable Charges. The financial year 2018 recorded a 74.9% decline in total irregularities figure of GH¢3,007,258,924 as against the 2017 figure of GH¢12,002,880,339. The change was caused by a decrease in outstanding debtors,” Mr. Akuamoah Asiedu disclosed.