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General News of Monday, 25 October 2004

Source: Graphic

?90 Billion Bills Unclaimed

Accra, Oct. 25, Graphic -- About ?90-billion bills submitted to government by some people for supplies and services they rendered to the state have not been claimed.The Finance Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who announced this in Accra, said the bills were left behind by the previous government.

Speaking at the launch of the national campaign of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at Mantse Agbona at James Town in Accra last Saturday, the finance minister said after the audit and examination of bills left unpaid by the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, no one had claimed the ?90 billion.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said when the NPP government assumed the reins of power in 2001, it carried out an audit of the bills left behind by the previous government.He said the audit revealed millions of bills unpaid and it was announced to all those who did business with the government to make their claims.

Mr Osafo- Maafo said nobody had come forward to claim the ? 90 billion as payment for any work done to the state. He said the government had also expunged 32,000 ?ghost names?? from the government payroll.Mr Osafo- Maafo discounted claims that the government?s economic policies had worsened the plight of the people, explaining that the NPP government would not put money that people had not worked for in their pockets.

He said in the past, some unscrupulous people manipulated the government?s accounting system to steal state money by bloating the payroll with ?ghost names?.Mr Osafo- Maafo said those who had been prevented from getting this kind of cheap money would certainly complain that times were hard.He said the government was determined to plug the loop-holes to prevent the embezzlement and misappropriation of state funds so that these resources could be used to provide the needs of all the people.

Mr Osafo- Maafo said the government had worked hard enough to stabilise the economy and urged the people to return the NPP administration to power to continue with the good work.He said within the last three years, the government had motivated cocoa farmers so well in that it had increased the price of a tonne from ?3 million in the 2000/2001 season to ?9 million in the 2003/2004 season.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Papa Owusu Ankomah, said the government was bent on reducing corruption in the society.He urged those with information on the corrupt activities of public officials to volunteer those pieces of information for the necessary action to be taken.The minister said the government did not want to imprison innocent citizens after ?kangaroo?? trials and that the due process of the law would be followed.

He said fighting corruption called for more resources to be provided for the police, the judiciary and other relevant agencies.The Minister for Private Sector Development, Mr Kwamena Bartels, said more initiatives would be adopted to make the private sector more effective and responsive.