General News of Saturday, 9 June 2012

Source: FRONT PAGE Newspaper

Betty, Duffuor In Trouble

GHc276m Judgment debts

-As Auditor General asks officials to cough out 'loot’

By Sammy Agyei

The Auditor- General has recommended that "to save the State from incurring avoidable expenditure....any public officer, whose negligence leads to the imposition of debt on the State, should be surcharged accordingly." The Auditor-General who has complained bitterly about the huge judgement debts paid to individuals and institutions as compensation and cost against the state made the recommendation in his 2010 Report to Parliament on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Consolidated Fund).

According to the Report, "judgement debts payments totalling Ghc275,917,484, representing 11 percent of total Administration Expenditure of Ghc2,556,618,613, was made" in one year.

According to the Auditor- General, "the cost was avoidable if due care was taken by some government officials in the course of exercising their official duties". The Report cited 86 selected judgement debts paid, including the Woyome, CP, African Automobile, Rockshell, Nana Kwaku Duah, Procurement Agency, Country Waste, Asutuare Sugar Factory, Frandesco and Stool Land cases.

Parliament is yet to debate the recommendation, but the Attorney General's decision to prosecute Alfred Woyome for causing financial loss and defrauding by false pretence has left the public wondering about the role and fate of Betty Mould Iddrisu, former Attorney-General, Finance Minister, Dr Kw abena Duffuor, and other state officials, who are implicated in the scandal.

On the financial administration of the Ministries, Departments and other Agencies (MDAs), the Report reveals further worrying trends, indicating that the nation may not be poor after all.

Cash irregularities were said to have escalated by 560.5% from Ghc14.3 million in 2009 to Ghc94.5 million in 2010. The irregularities were prominent in the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (Ghc 72.8 million), Aviation, (Ghc9.5 million), and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (Ghc7.7 million).

The irregularities include misappropriation of revenue, dishonoured cheques, unauthorised expenditures, and non-availability of records on revenue collected. Though Parliament's Public Accounts Committee is sitting on the reports, the pace appears so slow, the public seems lost and we are witnessing extreme partisanship in protecting the nation's purse and resources. With trillions of our funds embezzled, stolen and given away in these few years, can we really say we are poor and has Ghana gotten better?