Delay in Auditor-General's reports due to COVID-19 and not a cover up – Audit Service

BY: graphic.com.gh

The Audit Service has dismissed suggestions by the Minority in Parliament that the Service’s delay in submitting and publishing of reports of the Auditor-General for the 2019 financial year was an attempt to cover up corruption on the part of government.

According to the Service, the delay was as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown directive by government in March.

The Minority, at a press conference on Monday accused the acting Auditor-General, Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, of breaching the Constitution and the Audit Service Act which requires him to audit and submit to Parliament his reports on the Public Accounts of Ghana for the preceding year within six (6) after the end of the said preceding year .

But a statement issued on Wednesday and signed by the Assistant Director of Public Relations, Ama Awotwi-Bosumafi, explained that the delay was also as a result of some of its staff testing positive for the Coronavirus, resulting in the suspension of audit assignments.

The statement said, “While we admit that the Office has not been able to submit all the Reports of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana for the 2019 financial year to Parliament as required by the relevant laws, we wish to state that this delay is not intentional or purposeful.

“The delay is solely due to the outbreak of the novel corona virus 2019 (COVID-19) that disrupted government business and social life.”

It explained further that as was the practice, audits of the accounts prepared by public institutions only started in earnest in the middle of March 2020.

“Unfortunately, the Audit Service had to suspend all ongoing audits on 30th March 2020 in complying with the lockdown directives issued to all institutions on 28th March 2020 in line with section 169 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851),” it added.

“The staff of the Audit Service resumed work at their respective locations when the lockdown was lifted, but some employees of the Service contracted covid-19 during the audits resulting in the suspension of audit assignments. Staff were then asked to work from home which culminated in further delays in the work due to technical and logistical challenges encountered by both auditors and clients.

“These delays prevented the various audit teams from completing their audits on schedule to enable the Auditor-General (Mr. Daniel Y. Domelevo) to submit his reports on the public accounts of Ghana to Parliament before the statutory date of 30th June 2020,” it said.

It therefore debunk accusations by the Minority in Parliament that the delays were "deliberate for the primary purpose of avoiding further embarrassment to the Government ...or intended to cover up malfeasance on the part of Government because this year is an election year".

It added that the delay could also not be attributed to “the directive by the President to the Auditor-General to proceed on leave" as the Minority asserts.

According to the statement, on July 20, 2020, the acting Auditor-General, Mr Asiedu submitted the "Report of the Auditor-General on the Consolidated Statements of the Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the year ended 3Ist December 2019".

It said Mr Asiedu subsequently informed the Speaker of Parliament that reports covering other accounts would delay because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the audit activities of the Service.

It said most of those outstanding reports had since been sent out for printing for onward submission to Parliament.