The Government has been advised to provide the requisite financial and human resources to make internal audit systems in public institutions effective in fighting against irregularities and corruption.
The advice came on the back of the second Fiscal Recklessness Index (FRI) of IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, a policy think tank, which found that tax and cash irregularities constituted an average of 83 percent of the composite of financial irregularities.
These irregularities were the main sources of fiscal recklessness among the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and were due to the failure of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to collect taxes due to the State and enforce compliance.
The five-year analysis covered the same period where the Public Financial Management Act 2016 (Act 921) and the PFM Regulation (LI 2378) were passed to ensure that all revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities of the Government are managed efficiently and effectively.
From 2015 to 2020, the Auditor-General recorded a total of GHS13.9 billion in financial irregularities covering stores/procurement, cash, tax, payroll, rent, and contract irregularities within MDAs.
Commenting on the situation during a media engagement, Mr Dennis Asare, a Researcher at IMANI Africa, said the irregularities were making it difficult for the Government to fund various developmental programmes and projects.
It was also imposing higher financial costs to the nation in implementing reforms, programmes and strategies over the last two decades to curb such practices in public institutions.
As such, he said there was the need for internal audit systems in public institutions in Ghana to be strengthened to be able to detect such irregularities early and find solutions to them.
He noted that the internal audit system was not working effectively and said: “Issues of people lodging public funds into their accounts will never happen if it (internal audit) was effective.”
“If we are unable to enforce compliance it will be hard for us to go about this. We have lots of loopholes preventing the government from raising the right funds to help with our projects,” he added.
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu in the Volta Region, said: “We need new leadership responsibilities. There is enough evidence to go after people and retrieve these public funds.”
“If there is any matter that we must resolve it’s about plucking the loopholes and the President’s quick way to defend appointees must change. The resources that have been wasted, we should find ways to punish and deter others,” he added.
Mr Ablakwa described as shocking the volume that the country had lost in terms of financing and said that: “Some people benefit from the ills of the country, so they want things to continue.”
The lawmaker said the Special Prosecutor must also be more aggressive in investigating such matters of financial irregularities among MDAs and ensure that those found culpable were punished.
“At least the new one is showing some glimmer of hope but there is more room for improvement, he still doesn’t have a board, he doesn’t have the resources, deliberately starving the OSP, so I don’t blame him too much, he is doing his best under very terrible conditions,” he said.