The Judicial Service and the Ministry of Education (MOE) together with its agency, the Ghana Education Service (GES) on Tuesday, July 06, 2021, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to account for public funds at their disposal in respect of the Auditor-General Report on their finances for the year ended 31st December 2017.
They took turns to answer questions on what was described by the Auditor-General as poor accounting and weak control systems in these Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) leading to loss of state funds.
The PAC queried them for incessant violation of extant rules including non-retirement of personal advances within the financial year and grant of cash advances above approved limits.
The exercise among its various objectives of scrutinizing public expenditure was aimed at mobilizing public opinion to produce a change in attitude towards the spending of public funds and to ensure that public spending produces value for money.
The Committee sitting in Parliament House uncovered a pattern of consistent contravention of relevant constitutional provisions and other financial regulations in the various MDAs by public officials.
Other violations include an uncooperative attitude towards Auditors, extra-budgetary expenditures without approval, and withdrawals of funds from Accounts for purposes other than the funds were created and without recourse to the Financial Administration Regulations 2004.
The Committee noted that most MDAs do not adhere to the established accounting mechanisms to ensure accountability and transparency sent to them by the Office of the Accountant-General, hence the need to go ahead and check the accounting systems established in most of these agencies.
The Committee, therefore, underscored the need for the Auditor-General to strengthen and streamline the audit process with a view to ensuring prudence in public finance and transactions.
Officials from the Judicial Service were queried on an unaccounted deposit of 46,650 euros at Tema High Court and their failure to present Bank Statements for the confirmation of revenue lodged amounting to GHS 357,940 to the Auditors.
Another infraction uncovered was the ineffective control of Value Books at Weija District Magistrate Court which irregularities were attributed to Management’s failure to supervise the activities of the Registrar.
The officials were also cited for excess retention of Internally Generated Funds totaling GHS 285,250 at Offinso District and Tarkwa High Courts and their failure to charge interest on delayed Transfer of Revenue by Zenith Bank to the tune of GHS 3,854,718.07.
When officials of MOE appeared before the PAC it came to light that three officials at the Ministry’s Treasury including then Deputy Education Minister Elizabeth Amoah Tetteh between 2014 and 2017 failed to hand over their official vehicles when they separated from the Ministry.
Ten new laptops could not also be accounted for at Bechem District GES office while at Adidome GES Office, two Mitsubishi Pick-Up vehicles were sold by auction for GHS 1,900 without any vital document to determine whether or not the vehicles should be sold and without inspection by the State Transport Company (STC).
Unsupported payments totaling GHS 432.800 were uncovered at 16 District offices while tenants on the premises of two institutions defaulted in their rent payment ranging between 24 and 76 months to the tune of GHS 18,030.00
The Report further noted that 43 separated staff were paid an unearned salary of GHS 215,977.95 while 137 Private Schools operating within the Ga South Municipal Education Office defaulted in paying their license fees amounting to GHS 32,280.00.
In his remarks, the PAC Chairman James Klutse Avedzi said the Committee will submit its recommendations to the House and recommend sanctions for MDAs that failed to account for public funds and public officials that refuse to account for public funds at their disposal for them to be shown the way out of office.
He said one of the major responsibilities of the PAC is to hold the MDAs to account since whoever is given the responsibility and the trust of running any agency with public funds must be accountable to Parliament on behalf of the people.
The Committee, he emphasized, will insist that any public servant or civil servant that is given public funds for the public good and has questions to answer and refuse to answer satisfactorily should have no business being in government.