Public Officials will be charged for funds and assets lost

Public Accounts Committee
Public Accounts Committee

The Auditor General is to surcharge public officials cited for financial malfeasance and loss of public funds and assets in its 2017 audit report and beyond.

Mr James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee gave the hint at its hearings in Ho on the Auditor General’s reports for the year 2015 and 2016.

He noted that getting officials to pay for public assets lost under their watch would help strengthen accountability in institutions.

Mr Avedzi said Assemblies must show proper documentation for financial transactions, and charged district auditors to also verify claims entered.

He said officials who were unable to respond to issues raised by the Auditor’s report within 30 days after the exit conference would be billed in the report.

Mr Avedzi said inconsistencies in fuel and vehicle logging were recurrent in most Assemblies in the country and that some had been found to be conjuring data on vehicle use.

The 2015 report said eight Assemblies in the Eastern Region recorded a total of GHC65,465.52 in fuel costs they could not account for, while 2016 recorded GHC109,173 from another eight.

“We believe that they manufactured the data and it’s making our work difficult. It is widespread and the solution lies in ensuring that drivers are trained on proper logging of vehicle activities,” Mr Avedzi stated.

He said the refusal to log vehicles not only raised doubt over their use but also made for difficult planning and budgeting, and stressed the need for transport managers to ensure constant log updates.
Mr Avedzi further asked public officials to ensure they followed up on issues they inherited or risk being held liable.

Dr Clement Apaak, a Member of the Committee, said data inconsistencies helped deprive the State of its revenue and that it was time a policy proposal was advanced to deal with the issue.

A total of 21 Assemblies audited in 2016 received a total of GHC132,407,293.26 in Internally Generated Funds (IGF), Assemblies Common Fund, development facilities, and Government salary grants.

The report also said 15 Assemblies in 2016 recorded increases in IGF compared to 2015, while all six Municipal Assemblies qualified for the Urban Development Grant.

It said the “lack of effective oversight on revenue collection” resulted in 24 collectors not accounting for a total amount of GHC 107,063, while 111 business and property owners defaulted in property rate payments amounting to GHC 273,167.77.

An amount of GHC 832,248.63 paid by 22 Assemblies as expenditure in 2016 could not be authenticated due to “deficiencies in payment records or lack of evidence”.

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