Auditor-General rejects 50% government liability, asks to go after looters
Auditor-General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo has revealed that close to 50 percent of a supposed GHȻ11 billion government outstanding liability has been rejected following an audit of the claims.
The rejected claims by state ministries, departments and agencies not only lacked validation but were mostly unlawful, he told journalists on Monday and confirmed the 2016 audit report which details the revelations, has been presented to the Speaker of Parliament.
It is expected to be laid before the full House for further action, including the Auditor-General’s recommendations for the retrieval of huge sums due the state and the prosecution of offending officials and businesses.
In the meantime, the Auditor-General says he has applied to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for prosecutorial powers to enable his office pursue perpetrators of such crimes against the state, saying the massive interest of the media in their work has proven fillip enough to continue scrutinizing claims on government.
The annual reports of the Auditor General since 1992 constantly yields up corrupt and criminal practices by public officials in cahoots with service providers and contractors, which largely go unpunished, ending up mostly in news reports that attract momentary public angst.
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Since June 2017, when pressure group Occupy Ghana secured the Supreme Court’s order for the Auditor-General to surcharge persons found to have misappropriated state funds, there appears to be renewed vigour to bring offenders to book.
Previously they could appear before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and, unable to defend their commissions and omissions, still manage broad smiles in front of live cameras, aware that they could return to the comfort of their homes and suffer no let or hindrance.
“I'm very grateful that we’ve met here this morning so that we can provide some clarification or overview of the report that has been submitted. When His Excellency the Vice President announced in April last year that there was outstanding liability of seven billion Ghana cedis, I was of the view that there was the need for us to go and review it. In fact what I said to myself was if we were able to save one percent of that, that would be 70 million Ghana cedis, it’s quite significant so there's the need for us to go.
“And so we approached Ministry of Finance and after discussions it was agreed that we will do the audit and we first asked them to say, yes you have 7 billion but please go back and ask the rest who might not have submitted their bills to you, for all you know the amount may be bigger than what we have and they did exactly that and the figure came above 11 billion so we said wao, now we have a bigger job to do.
“But as our audit approach we thought it wise not just to use the Ministry of Finance figure but also we gave the various ministries the opportunity of presenting to us their own figures what they can substantiate and that reduced the figure significantly before the audit was done. I must say that we are very happy we did the audit because as I think all of you are aware, the amounts rejected so far are not anywhere near the 1% I thought, not even 10 per cent, but close to 50% thereof, and I would like to say on my behalf and that of my management in particular, we thank especially both the print and the written media for the interest that you have shown in our report. In fact when we finished this assignment I said to my colleagues, if Ghanaians don't take us serious after this assignment we won’t do it anymore but today, I can say that you have increased our resolve to do more, we will be looking to do more in the years to come and I would like to come out with the way forward post this audit.”