The Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sat to consider the Auditor-General’s Reports of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the year ended 31st December 2017 which were referred to it for consideration.
The Communication, Lands and Natural Resources and Works and Housing ministries took turns to answer questions on what was described as poor accounting and weak control systems in these Ministries leading to loss of state funds.
When some institutions under these ministries appeared before the PAC to respond to queries in the Auditor-General’s Report of 2017, it was established that poor financial management and improper record-keeping remained a hurdle to be cleared to ensure the judicious use of public resources.
While some of these institutions failed to ensure best corporate practices to prevent waste, weak accounting systems in others paved the way for some officials to misappropriate funds.
The institutions that appeared before the PAC are the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Department of Urban Roads, and Department of Feeder Roads-Takoradi-in the Western Region.
The rests are Lands Commission-Wa (Upper West Region), Regional Lands Commission (Cape Coast) and the Public Works Department (PWD) Prestige and the Hydrological Services Department.
When the Ministry of Communication took its turn in the hot seat, it came to light that Internally Generated Funds (IGF) amounting to GHS 1,747,658.10 collected in 2016 was not lodged into the Public Funds Account.
It was also noted that the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT without authorisation disbursed GHS 1,344,171.29 out of the total amount of GHS 1,747,658.10 IGF collected within the period and although the Auditor-General’s Report asked the Centre to recover the misappropriated amount with interest, this has not been complied with.
Additionally, the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) was also cited for withholding an amount of GHS 120,381.07 but failed to remit to Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) thereby denying the state the much needed revenue while 54 payment vouchers with a total face value of GHS 627,487.05 were not made available for review by the Auditor General.
The PAC therefore directed officials of the Ministry to provide all these 54 vouchers to the Committee by close of work Wednesday June 30, 2021 or face the necessary sanctions.
It was disclosed that Mr. Toxla Joshua, a former Technical Officer of the Lands Commission at Wa in the Upper West Region vacated post on the 13th October 2016 but continued to be paid salary until March 2017 which resulted to unearned salary of GHS 9,022.98.
The Auditor-General Report indicated that even though management advised the bank to pay the accumulated unearned salary back to Government chest, this was not done.
The officials explained that there was an arrangement between the management of the Commission and Mr. Toxla to refund the outstanding unearned salary for onward payment into the Consolidated Fund.
In another vein, the Audit Report revealed that taxes withheld from allowances paid to Committee members and temporary staff amounting to GHS 11,234.38 was not remitted to the Commissioner General of the Ghana revenue Authority (GRA).
The Report therefore recommended that management should remit the tax amount of GHS11,234.38 to the Commissioner-General of the GRA but this has not been complied with.
Similarly, according to the Report, examination of records disclosed that Zenith Bank charged fees totalling GHS 5,086.26 in breach of contractual obligation resulting in reduction of the non-taxable income that should have accrued to the state and recommended for a refund into NTR Account at Bank of Ghana which was also not carried out.
Ministry of Works and Housing
It was noted during the period under review that management failed to stop the salary of Mr Isaac Yeboah Asiamah a former employee of the Hydrological Services Department when he vacated post resulting to unearned salary totalling GHS 6,317.10 over a five-month period from October 2015 to February 2016.
The Committee therefore recommended that Mr. Isaac Yeboah Asiamah refund the said amount of GHS 6,317.10 and pay same to the Consolidated Fund failure of which he would be surcharged.
The Committee also urged management to stop the payment of unearned Salaries to two officers at the PWD Prestige totalling GHS 10,570.00 and ensure its recovery failure of which they would be surcharged.