PAC directs Energy Ministry to retrieve GH¢53, 045.07 paid to former staff

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Minister of Energy, John Peter Amewu
Minister of Energy, John Peter Amewu

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament yesterday directed the Ministry of Energy to take immediate steps to retrieve GH¢53, 045.07 unearned salaries it paid to nine former staff members of the ministry in 2014 and 2015.

The former employees of the then Ministry of Power are said to have received the said amount between February 2014 and February 2015 after they had retired or vacated post.

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They are Isaac Eshun, a former Deputy Director who received GH¢30, 697; Afra C. Nii, Driver, GH¢3, 094; William Anthony, Assistant Engineer, GH¢3, 175; Yaa De-Rex Tanor, assistant engineer, GH¢5,803, and Atta Junior Amoako Asare, Assistant Internal Auditor, GH¢3, 229.

The rest are Delali Aboachie, assistant engineer, GH¢2,319; Hanson Monney, Assistant Engineer, GH¢2, 219; Hafiz Sule-Braimah, Assistant Records officer, GH¢2, 219 and Benjamin Kwame Amanetey, Head of Man Labourer, GH¢444.

Financial regulations


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Regulation 297 (1) of the Financial Administration Regulations, 2004 (LI 1802) states that: “A head of department shall cause the immediate stoppage of payment of salary to a public servant when that public servant resigned, retired or died.”

The Auditor General, in its report on the ministry, said: “The failure of the head of the Human Resource Department (HRD) to notify the Controller and Accountant-General to delete the names of the affected staff resulted in this lapse.”

Naming and shaming

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At Thursday's PAC’s sitting, the Vice Chairperson of the committee, Mr Edward Kaale-Ewola Dery, said: “As part of our work, naming and shaming is allowed in this particular committee.”

“If these former staff are at post or wherever they are, they will know that this is what they have done to the Ministry of Power,” he said.

The directive came after officials of the Ministry of Energy, led by Mr William Owuraku Aidoo, the Deputy Minister of Energy, appeared before the committee to answer questions on financial infractions, including the payment of unearned salaries, and the steps that had been taken to retrieve such monies.

Response

Responding to questions by the committee, the Director of HR of the Ministry of Energy, Mrs Monica Asare, claimed that Eshun only received GH¢ 8,018 and not GH¢30, 697 from the Controller and Accountant-General within a period of five months.

According to her, even though Eshun was a staff of the Ministry of Energy, he went on secondment to the Petroleum Commission which topped up his salary as the Ministry continued to pay him.

As a redress, she told the committee that the Petroleum Commission had agreed to repay the GH¢8,018 he (Eshun) received from the Ministry of Energy.

“This officer, knowing that some money had been paid into his account, something you have not earned, should have owned up by paying back the money to government chest,” she said.

To curb possible payment of similar unearned salaries to former staff of the ministry, Mrs Asare said the ministry carried out monthly validation of staff prior to payment of salaries by the Controller and Accountant-General.

Concerns

A member of the committee, Mr Richard Quashigah, took a swipe at the director of HR of the Ministry of Energy, claiming that when the Petroleum Commission decided to re-engage Eshun, “your outfit was informed that this gentleman is going to work for us full time”.

“Having been told that, it was for you to have initiated the process to stop his salary being paid from your end,” he stated.

Responsibility

Responding, Mr Addo said the ministry took “full responsibility for what had happened” and assured the committee that his outfit had taken some steps to contact the Petroleum Commission to rectify the problem.

According to him, so far, Mr Monney, one of the beneficiaries, had refunded GH¢1,000 of the GH¢2, 219 unearned salary and had promised to pay the outstanding amount before the end of September this year.