Public officials to be surcharged for financial breaches – PAC warns

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
 Chairman of the PAC, Mr James Avedzi
Chairman of the PAC, Mr James Avedzi

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has cautioned that public officials whose infractions are captured in the 2017 Auditor General's Report will be surcharged for such financial breaches.

The Chairman of the PAC, Mr James Avedzi, said per the new Audit Service Act, public officials would no longer have the opportunity to clear themselves once their infractions were captured in the Auditor General's reports.

He noted that the only remedy was for the officials to pay for the infractions or be handed over to the police for prosecution.

Mr Avedzi gave the caution when heads of senior high schools (SHSs) and technical institutes in the Eastern Region appeared before the committee at its sitting in Ho on Wednesday to answer questions on infractions cited in the 2015 and 2016 Auditor General's reports against their respective schools.

Schools


The schools that were represented were Abetifi Presby SHS, Abetifi Technical Institute, Akim Swedru SHS, Akwatia Technical Institute, Asamankese SHS, Asuom SHS and Oda SHS.

The cash management irregularities cited in the reports against the schools included unsubstantiated payments, failure to present parent-teacher association (PTA) accounts for audit, excessive cash payments, failure to present value books, uncredited lodgement of revenue to bank, failure to remit PTA fees collected into PTA accounts, unrecovered staff advances and unpaid rent.

Some of the procurement and store irregularities were uncompetitive procurements, procurements made outside the approved procurement plan, purchases not routed through stores and fuel purchases not accounted for.

Most of the heads of the schools told the committee that they had cleared the infractions after they were captured in the Auditor General's reports.

Auditors from the Auditor General's Department at the sittings confirmed that most of the infractions had been corrected.

Documentation

Mr Avedzi said public officials were required to clear themselves with documentations during the auditing process.

He added that the officials had 30 days after the exit conference (final meeting with auditors) within which they were required to supply all necessary documents to correct the infractions cited by auditors.

"If you do not respond after the 30 days, they will not clear you; they will surcharge you and if you do not pay, the police will come in," he said.