General News of Thursday, 7 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Civil Servants cited in massive fraud - Report

The 2011 Auditor General report has uncovered moves by some civil servants to rob the country of its scarce resources.

According to the report, the magnitude of some loans contracted by these employees would require between 200 and 575 years to repay.

This means these employees may still have debts hanging around their neck even in their graves.

According to the report, some government employees had against their names outstanding vehicle loan balances which per their monthly deduction would take them more than 200 years to pay.

The document indicated that "GoG Payroll data showed unspecified outstanding vehicle loan balances against the names of some government employees who suffer loan deductions ranging from GHC1O2 to GHC525 on monthly basis"."

The Auditor-General, Mr Richard Quartey, observed that "failure to show the outstanding balances presupposes that the affected employees will suffer monthly deductions in perpetuity, which, in my view, is irregular".

These loan balances, the Auditor-General said, were unreliable and cast doubt on the reliability of the total advances of GHC12,475,712 disclosed in the 2011 Public Accounts.

Currently, the maximum car loan a commercial bank gives is GhC25,000.00 which is payable within five years. The average net salary of a public servant in Ghana is around GHC650.00

According to the Auditor-General's Report which was based on the country's income and expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund, in the case of doubtful vehicle loan balances, there were eight names on the list, with the highest loan balance being a staff member of the Audit Service in the Greater Accra Region, with ID number 3940, who has to pay GHC826,714.08 in 571 years.

Others are a staff member of the Controller and Accountant General's Department (CAGD) with staff number 2679 who has to pay GHC615,635.57 in 458 years; ID number 34656 of the Volta Regional Administration, had GHc552.772.18 and ID number 1082 of the Audit Service, Dangbe West, GHc46.453.55.

Three other Audit Service workers have perpetual debts to pay. While ID number 971 has GHc 40,161.78 to cough up, ID number 950's debt is GHc38,883.22, with 954 having to struggle with GHc24,435.19.

For those whose outstanding balance is not shown, 37 names were captured but interestingly, 10 of the names appeared more than once on the list.

For instance, an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture with staff ID number 99020 appeared three times on the list as collecting loans in May, June and July and with monthly deductions of GHc123.9

Another person with staff no 79446 with the CAGD/Ministry of Education appeared four times on the list with June, September, October and December as months the loans were collected.

Others include employees of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Ministry of Justice, the Northern Regional Administration and the Audit Service.

The report said the errors might have arisen as a result of poor data entry into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Database (IPPD) system and ineffective verifications and review mechanism over payroll processing and reporting.

The IPPD system is an integrated system for the administration and processing of government payroll for both active and retired government employees. The government wage bill on these employees, which is a committed expenditure, constitutes a significant percentage of total government expenditure. There are currently 730,000 public sector workers earning their keep from the state purse.

To alleviate the employees' burden of undue monthly deductions, the Auditor-General recommended "the immediate review of the data in the IPPD system and purge it of the anomalies".

Mr Quartey urged the Controller and Accountant General to ensure that supervision over the Data Entry Officers at the IPPD Unit was strengthened and made more effective to minimise the risk of errors.

However, in a management response to the issues raised, the Controller and Accountant General noted that "the large loan balances in the IPPD System are balances in respect of staff whose salaries had been suspended. On re-activation of the staff records after the re-denomination of the cedi the balances still reflected the old currency."

"The CAGD has worked over the period to correct these errors. However, the ledgers which form the basis of reporting on vehicle loans in the Public Accounts are maintained outside of the payroll system and reflect the redenominated balances. The actual balances as at 31st December, 2011 of the staff noted in the audit observation and which are incorporated in the Public Accounts are available."