Senior MoI staff exposed over GH¢151,500.00 COVID-19 risk allowance

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Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

Senior management staff and other supporting staff of the Ministry of Information paid themselves GHS151,500.00 as COVID-19 risk allowance, according to the Auditor General.

The Auditor General’s report on COVID-19 expenditure from March 2020 to June 2022 said the staff of the Ministry paid the allowances to themselves for coming to work during the lockdown period contrary to the Presidential directives and without approval from the Office of Chief of Staff.

The report then recommended that the amount of GH¢151,500.00 be recovered from the beneficiary staff and paid into the Auditor-General’s Recoveries account.

The report also revealed that allowances, totalling GHS811,800.00 were paid without adequate supporting documents. Apart from expenditure memos and signed sheets, there were no activity or programme reports to support and authenticate the allowances paid.

“Regulation 78 of the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 provides that a Principal Spending Officer of a covered entity shall personally ensure that payments in respect of that covered entity are valid, accurate and legal. He shall also ensure that evidence of services received, certificate for work done and any other supporting documents exist.”

It said the schedule officer stated that direct submission of activity reports to the Ministry of Health and the World Bank resulted in this omission.

“In the absence of copies of the activity reports on file, we are unable to validate and authenticate the allowances paid. The practice could lead to misappropriation and misapplication of COVID-19 funds.”

The report recommended that to ensure transparency and accountability of COVID-19 funds, management must provide the relevant activity reports to support the allowances paid, failing which the entire amount of GHS811,800.00 would be disallowed.

The AG’S report also revealed that special imprest amounting to GHS529,223.00 released to the Information Service Department to undertake various programmes and activities under COVID-19, was not fully accounted for.

It noted that out of GHS529,223.00 released for COVID-19 programmes and activities, GHS515,242.20 was acquitted with the relevant supporting documents, leaving an amount of GHS13,980.80 unacquitted.

It directed the Chief Director to immediately recover the outstanding amount of GHS13,980.80 from the staff involved and pay same to the Auditor-General’s Recoveries account, failing which the Chief Director should pay.

It noticed that Modern Security Printers Ghana Limited and Dentsu Aegies Network Ghana Limited which were awarded contracts for the Design and Printing of A2 Posters on COVID-19 safety protocols for all Educational Institutions and consultancy services on media buy-in for COVID-19 wear your mask campaign, failed to provide performance bonds to guarantee their performance of contracts worth GHS20,454,120.00.

“We also noted that upon approval by the Public Procurement Authority, Modern Security Printers Ghana Limited campaign was at the cost of GHS15,454,120.00 while Dentsu Aegies Network Ghana Limited campaign was at a cost of GHS5,000,000.00.”

According to the report, both companies failed to provide performance guarantees as required by the contract, though it sighted Modern Security Printers Ghana Limited’s surety bond (tender security) covering GHS772,706.00 for 60 days from Millennium Insurance Company Limited (Policy No. CBOBGC0001442100) instead of the surety covering the period of the contract.

“In the event of non-performance, the Government could not insist on performance by the contractors. To ensure transparency and accountability, we recommended that the Chief Director should provide evidence to support the execution of the contract, failing which the GHS1,456,310.00 should be recovered from the Chief Director and paid into the Auditor General’s Recoveries account.”

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