The Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) has withheld the salaries of 3,794 government employees who do not have social security numbers.
The employees will not receive their salaries from October ending until they submit their social security numbers and justify their delay in the submission of their numbers.
The Public Relations Officer of the CAGD, Mr Robert Cudjoe, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that a directive was given in February this year that employees who had not submitted their social security numbers to the CAGD should do so otherwise their salaries would be withheld.
He said those whose salaries had been withheld had failed to comply with the directives issued by the CAGD.
The CAGD’s advice to all public sector employees to update their social security information on the mechanised system is part of the public financial management reform programme announced in February, 2015.
The exercise was aimed at cleaning the payroll systems to get rid of ghost names and also help manage the public sector wage bill.
Mr Cudjoe said it was detected that 27,805 employees did not have their social security numbers on the payroll system in June 2015 so through various media platforms, the department kept reminding the employees to submit the requisite information to their respective personal processing sections by the end of September, this year, which was the deadline.
Out of the 27,805 employees who did not have their social security numbers on the payroll, Mr Cudjoe said 3,794 had still not provided the information by the end of September, leading to the suspension of their salaries.
He indicated that the Ghana Education Service (GES) had the highest number of employees who had not heeded the advice. Out of the 3,794 workers, 2,647 were from the GES and 1,147 from other government institutions.
Submit social security number
In spite of the decision to suspend the salaries, Mr Cudjoe said employees who had social security numbers could submit the requisite information to the appropriate quarters.
However, an employee should be able to justify the delay and based on merit, the individual would be reinstated, but if the explanation was not tangible, it would not be accepted.
That, he said, was because the deadline had passed and it was possible that the remaining people without the social security numbers were not genuine employees or they did not exist, meaning they were ghosts.
Although he did not give another deadline, he said after some time if the list was not cleared, the names would be declared ghost ones, after which the people would be prosecuted for causing financial loss to the state.
Battling ghost names
Over the years, the government has been trying to rid the payroll system of ghosts who are being paid from the CAGD; a situation which continues to drain government’s revenue.
The ghost names menace angered the European Union which led to the suspension of the union’s budgetary support to Ghana until the names are taken off government payroll.
According to a report by the Sunday Times, a UK-based newspaper, last December, the European Union withheld £135 million budgetary support to Ghana due to an alleged payroll corruption.
The report indicated that funds from the EU had been used by Ghana to pay the salaries of government employees, including about 20 per cent of workers who could be accounted for. The government however denied that report.
According to an analysis done by Dr Joe Abbey, Executive Director of economic think tank, Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), in March 2013, about 1.3 per cent of Ghana’s GDP, translating into over GHc1 billion, was paid to non-existent public sector employees or ghost workers in 2013.
He said about GHc100 million was paid to ghost employees every month in 2012.
In January 2014, the Deputy Minister in charge of Tertiary Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, announced that the government had deleted over 2,913 ghost names from the GES’ payroll.
In November last year, 1,052 staff of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) could not be accounted for after a headcount and an additional 60 who were paid through the hospital’s internally generated funds could also not be accounted for.
Of the 1,052 members of staff, 490 belonged to other institutions but worked under KBTH, while 84 were newly employed nurses at the hospital.
Between April and June 2014, the CAGD deleted 3,179 ghost names from the payrolls of public institutions in the Greater Accra Region alone as a result of the implementation of the Electronic Salary Payment Voucher System (E-SPV).