The Minister of Health Hon. Kwaku Agyeman Manu and other top officials of the Ghana Health Service on Tuesday had a hectic time answering queries from the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on issues raised in the 2017 Auditor-General’s Report to Parliament.
The 2017 Report on the Public Accounts of Ghana had established a pattern with which institutions under the Ministry of Health mismanaged public funds meant for development and pointed to deficiencies in using internal controls to monitor these activities.
The Committee’s queries today, among others, centred on bad debts, failure to pay Internally Generated Funds (IGFs) into Public Fund, unretired imprests and unearned salaries.
Other infractions reported by the Auditor-General were unrecovered bonds, irregular payments of funeral expenses, unrecovered staff advances, misapplication of Drug Funds in Health Institutions, unsupported Payment Vouchers and failure to obtain Non-Availability Certificates.
The Report said over GHS 9,302,800 was, within the period January 2016 to December 2017, indebted to Health Institutions under the Ministry of Health by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
Similarly, management of Achimota and Ridge Hospitals as well as Adabraka Polyclinic did not recover outstanding debts amounting to GHS 4,582,550.69 NHIA owed them in respect of supply of drugs and services for a period ranging between January 2016 and December 2017.
Management of three institutions including Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, for instance, also failed to present 58 paid vouchers raised between April and September 2016 totalling GHS 1,155,301.62 for examination by the Auditors.
Seven health Institutions as at June 2016 collected maintenance fees totalling GHS 476,387.75 but failed to pay same to state coffers while five separated staff of 16 Health Institutions were paid unearned salaries totalling GHS 587,521.77 between January and November 2016.
The Greater Accra Regional Hospital (Ridge) recorded 49 unsupported payment vouchers totalling GHS 205,450 without proper authentication while Achimota Hospital failed to obtain non-availability certificates to the tune of GFHS 185.10 between February and December 2017.
Deputy Minority Leader and Chairman of the Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, indicated the frustration of the Committee’s members, noting that the Health Institutions continue to violate rules, procedures and legal requirement in the administration of funds.
He urged the Ministry to recover from and surcharge the Executive Secretary of the Health Training Institutions Secretariat Mr. Christopher Beyere an amount of GHS 28,000.00 which he wrongfully paid to himself on 13th April 2016 from the IGF towards his sister’s funeral.
The Chairman also directed the Ministry to take steps to recover all monies misappropriated and improve upon their accounting and financial system since 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.
When officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) took their turn before the Committee it was discovered that poor loan recovery from tractor and equipment beneficiaries from the Architectural and Engineering Services Department of the Ministry resulted into indebtedness amounting to GHS 1,614.650.000
Similarly examination of the accounts of four District Directorates discovered that four officers received unearned salaries totalling GHS 37,397.91 within the period under review.
However, it came to light that three officials who stole 28 maize sellers procured by the Ministry and valued at GHS 112,000.00 have been handled to the Police Criminal Investigation Department for prosecution and are currently facing court trial.