The powers of the Attorney-General have been invoked to deal with findings by the Auditor-Generals that some ¢5.4 billion was being stolen from the state by some private companies and public servants.
In January this year, the Auditor-General in a report on the liabilities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for 2016 rejected over ¢5.4 billion in claims which the Ministry of Finance had submitted to the Audit Service as government’s liabilities.
The Auditor-General justified the disallowances on grounds that there were no relevant documents and other relevant evidence to back the claims. In some cases, the Auditor-General found that the goods cited and for which the claims are being made have not been supplied, or those claims have already been paid.
When the news broke, anti-graft show, Corruption Watch on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show petitioned the Minister of Finance to pursue possible offences committed by public servants and private individuals or companies under the Public Financial Management Act 2016 as cited in the Auditor General’s Report.
In a response to the Corruption Watch petition, the Legal Division of the Ministry of Finance revealed it has written to the Attorney-General to solicit her views and the way forward in addressing the issues raised in the petition.
Reacting to the Finance Ministry’s response on Wednesday on the anti-graft show, Mr Michael Boadi, Corporate Affairs Manager of Ghana Integrity Initiative said the response by the Finance Ministry is legitimate.
“Because it is an issue of law, you cannot just sanction [individuals, companies cited]…once there is a law that provides punishment for willfully causing financial loss to the state, it will be prudent for the Ministry to wait for a legal opinion before they act. So I think it is a legitimate decision by the Ministry,” he told host Daniel Dadzie on Wednesday.
Finance Ministry tops with ¢697m
Meanwhile, the public accounts of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the financial year ended December 31, 2017, have revealed that the overall financial impact of weaknesses and irregularities discovered by the Auditor-General amounted to over GH¢892 million.
The breakdown is; tax irregularities ¢655 million; cash irregularities ¢190 million; stores/procurement irregularities ¢41 million; payroll irregularities ¢1.7 million; outstanding loans/advances ¢2.6 million; and rent irregularities GH¢195 million.
The Finance and Economic Planning Ministry recorded the highest irregularities, amounting to ¢697 million. It is followed by the Employment and Labour Relations ministry with ¢l35 million.