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General News of Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Source: Charles Takyi-Boadu for Chronicle

Massive looting at Ministries

A report commissioned by the Auditor-General, Edward Dua-Agyemang into the books of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) covering the period of the year 2005 has uncovered massive corruption. Based on this, the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) has called on President Mills and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration to recoup every pesewa that the nation lost during the NPP era.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, a Spokesman for the CJA, Duke Tagoe quoted portions of the audit report commissioned by the Auditor-General, Edward Dua-Agyemang, in the year 2006, covering the year 2005 to back their calls for a possible prosecution of any member of the former administration who had dipped his hands into the national coffers and dissipated its resources.

“Though the Kufuor government has been shown the exit through the ballot box, we firmly re-state that officials within the then regime who supervised and in a large measure aided and abetted in the dissipation of state funds should be made to face the full rigours of the law”, he emphasized. He therefore, called on the current administration to review the acquisition of the two Presidential jets and other related deals to ensure that every pesewa lost to the Ghanaian taxpayer is recovered.

The said audit report found evidence of fraud, thieving and disregard for existing procurement laws (Procurement Act 2003) at the various Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs). At the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, the report noted that accountable imprest of ¢46.3 million were not accounted for on the completion of the assignments for which the amount was given, whilst Valued Added Tax (VAT) receipts amounting to ¢33.2 million were not obtained from three companies for goods purchased.

In spite of that, eight other officers who were given accountable imprests totaling US $33,300 between January 2004 and March 2005 to undertake various international assignments did not account for them. Contrary to provisions of the Financial Administration Act, it was also realized that an amount of ¢72,210,000 was paid to four firms and one officer of the Ministry but were not recovered by receipts to authenticate the transactions.

At the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing five laptop computers valued at ¢142.5 million could not be accounted for since at the time of the audit they had vanished from the Ministry without any trace whilst at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, it was realized that an amount of US $106, 168 had been misappropriated at Ghana’s Embassy in Cote d’ Ivoire.

It also came to light in the course of the audit that at the Ministry of Education that no official receipt was obtained from the West African Examinations Council for ¢65.9million, being claimed payments of Basic Certificate Examination (BECE) registration fees that had been collected from students, compelling the Auditor-General to comment on “the genuineness of the transaction could, therefore, not be ascertained.”

Furthermore, it was uncovered that the Department of Urban Roads in Kumasi under the Ministry of Transport failed to present payment vouchers totaling ¢13billion that they claimed had been paid to contractors for audit. The propriety of payments of the amount involved could, therefore, not be ascertained.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiatives was said to have spent ¢995, 398, 812 on garments to promote the ‘National Friday Wear Programme’ which officials claimed were distributed for free, however, there was no evidence of the persons or organizations that were given these garments since there was no distribution list to that effect.

At the Finance and Economic Planning Ministry, it was detected that Security agencies including the Ghana Army, Ghana Navy and the Ghana Police Service were indebted to the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to the tune of ¢78.42billion.

The explanation given was that due to the sensitive nature of the work of the Security agencies, it was difficult for CEPS to collect the above stated taxes. That notwithstanding, cheques amounting to ¢17.2billion, issued by three Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) in settlement of petroleum taxes on the lifting of oil from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) bounced, whilst no attempt was made to reclaim it

The report also unearthed issues of serious corruption and lack of transparency relating to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in which Axis Advertising Agency secured a government contract to monitor and review media campaign and advertisements for the NHIS but for some inexplicable reason, the same contract was awarded to two other companies called Media Touch Production Ltd and Media Plus for fees totalling ¢359, 925, 286.

A financial consultant of the NHIS, Mr. Foster-Folson and the scheme’s Cordinator, Kofi Adusei were reported to have breached financial discipline when they falsely and illegally certified that work contracted to Adams Advertising, totalling ¢2, 271, 204,000 to mount 123 billboards nationwide had been completed.

However, it was later uncovered that only 19 and not 123 billboards were mounted. It also came to light that contrary to the Procurement Act, Adams Advertising did not possess the capacity to undertake the job. Having secured the contract, the company sub-contracted it to another company called Design Display and Publicity (DDP) and thereby made a whooping profit of ¢296, 206, 650.

The report uncovered other serious breaches at the NHIS whilst there were also similar issues bothering on massive looting at the School Feeding Programme in which school enrolment figures were said to have been inflated.

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