GH¢1bn financial irregularities stains audit of MDAs

BY: Suleiman Mustapha
GH¢1bn financial irregularities stains audit of MDAs
GH¢1bn financial irregularities stains audit of MDAs

A 2021 Auditor-General’s report has uncovered more than GH¢1 billion financial irregularities of the public accounts of ministries, departments and agencies.

Financial irregularities were a regular feature of the public accounts of most government agencies from 2017 to 2021. Over GH¢12.23 billion irregularities were recorded during that period.

The irregularities were mainly in the form of cash, tax, payroll, debts and loans, stores and procurement, contract and rent.

In the 2021 audit report, tax irregularities alone constituted 91.5 per cent of the total financial infractions of over GH¢ 989 million.

This is made up of GH¢402 million in tax infractions from 28 Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) that defaulted in the payment of their rescheduled debt between January 2021 and December 2021.

That, according to the Auditor-General, was due to the failure of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to pursue the OMCs by applying the relevant measures and sanctions against the defaulting companies.

The Auditor-General has therefore recommended that the Commissioner General of the GRA strengthens the monitoring and supervision of its staff.

“He should also take steps to improve efficiency in their tax collections and follow up on overdue taxes while applying sanctions as prescribed by the tax laws,” the audit report states.

Cash infractions

Cash irregularities in 2021 amounted to GH¢45,763, 607, representing 4.23 per cent of the total irregularities.

The cash infractions, which cut across the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), were mainly made up of unapproved disbursements, payment vouchers that were not presented, unaccounted for revenue, unsupported payment vouchers, funds to bank not credited, non-lodgement of public funds, misapplication of funds and unretired imprest.

The amount included GH¢2,446, 321.48 and $727 paid on 14 payment vouchers but were not presented for examinations in the course of the audit.

In the absence of supporting documents and payment vouchers, the Auditor-General has recommended that the Chief Director and Head of Finance should pay the amount involved back into the account.

Loans and advances

Loans and advances amounted to GH¢30,758,576 representing 2.8 per cent of the total financial infractions in 2021 of the MDAs.

Out of the amount, over GH¢9.5 million was owed by 62 companies and individuals to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the purchase of tractors.

The Auditor-General has therefore recommended that the Chief Director and the Director of Engineering should recover the outstanding debt from the defaulting companies and individuals with interest at the prevailing Bank of Ghana rate.

On payroll irregularities, an amount of GH¢5,583,498 was recorded in the 2021 audit. This included unearned salaries of GH¢1,501,740 paid to 146 officers of 47 institutions under the Ministry of Health.

“We recommended the recovery of the total amount by the heads of the various institutions to government chest without delay,” the Auditor-General directed.

Stores and procurement

For the infractions on stores and procurement, the audit report cited GH¢511,569 anomalies, which included irregularities amounting to GH¢108,552, relating to items such as laptops, mathematical sets, exercise books and nose masks procured through the MPs share of the GETFund from two suppliers by the Ghana Education Service, Akropong-Akuapem, which were not accounted for.

According to the audit report, the irregularities were due to the direct supply of the items to the MPs office with available records on the items at the Municipal Education Office before distribution.

The Auditor-General has therefore asked that the MP should account for the items worth GH¢108,552, failing which he should refund the money.