OccupyGhana gives A-G ultimatum to indicate how embezzled funds will be recovered - News Hunter Magazine

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Monday, 12 January 2015

OccupyGhana gives A-G ultimatum to indicate how embezzled funds will be recovered

OccupyGhana (OG), a socio-political non-partisan pressure group for
good and responsible governance, says it will take legal action
against the Auditor-General (A-G) if he fails to make certain
disclosures "which have the potential of recovering tens of millions
of Ghana cedis for Ghana".

It has, therefore, given the A-G a 14-day ultimatum to respond to its
demands, failing which "OG shall immediately commence legal
proceedings".

The disclosure demand by OG includes details of any scheme of rewards
established for persons who provide information leading to the
successful recovery of funds arising from audits undertaken into
reported cases as required by Audit Service regulations.


OccupyGhana schools Auditor General on his mandate
It is also asking the A-G to disclose whether there has been any
reported cases of that nature since it was set up.

These were contained in a letter to the A-G dated January 9, 2015 and
signed by Mr George Andah.

Other demands

OG has also requested the A-G to disclose copies of any
specifications/certifications of disallowance and/or surcharge ever
issued to and served on any heads of departments/institutions under
the Audit Service Act or affected persons under the Local Government
Act.

Furthermore, it has requested a disclosure of a copy of the
certification issued in the one court case involving a surcharge
referred to by the A-G.

It is also demanding copies of "adverse comments" received from
Parliament and the 'development partners' on the disallowance and
surcharge powers.

Correspondence

The pressure group had written a letter to the A-G and the
Attorney-General last November requesting for confirmation of a number
of issues, including the A-G's powers of disallowance and surcharge as
enshrined in Article 187 of the 1992 Constitution, the Audit Service
Act and the Audit Service Regulations.

The A-G, in a confidential letter responding to OG's request, had
explained the powers of disallowance and surcharge.

But OG, in its January 9, 2015 letter, disagreed with the A-G's
explanation, describing it as "extremely inadequate and entirely
without merit".

Background

On November 12, 2014, OG wrote to the A-G and the Attorney-General
requesting confirmation that wherever the A-G had identified
irregularities in his reports, leading to loss of money to the state,
he agreed that those matters constituted appropriate cases for
disallowance and surcharge, and that if he did not consider any case
to be appropriate for disallowance and surcharge, he must specify his
reasons in writing, in accordance with the duty to be candid imposed
by Article 296 of the Constitution.

OG requested further that the A-G apply appropriate measures of
disallowance and surcharge in each case, giving the requisite
statutory notice, and that following the expiry of the notice, he
should exercise his power to refer the matter to the appropriate body
for action to recover the sums through the civil court process.

OG's response

While respecting the confidentiality of the A-G's letter, for which
reason it would not make the contents public, OG said it did not
intend to treat its letters confidential.

It said the A-G had misconstrued and placed a unilateral, unreasonable
and unconstitutional limitation on the powers of disallowance and
surcharge under the law.

It further noted that the A-G "has manifestly, unreasonably and
inexplicably confused the disallowance and surcharge procedure under
the Audit Service Act, Section 17, with the provisions of Section 20
of the same act, which only govern the report to Parliament".

According to OG, the A-G appeared completely oblivious of further
powers of disallowance and surcharge under the Local Government Act.

It said the A-G had given information concerning the setting up of a
joint committee 'to look at cases spanning 2006 to 2011', "which is a
manifestly inadequate response to the requests for confirmation sought
in OG's November 12, 2014 letter".

Adverse comments

The pressure group cited a document titled, "Paper on Proposals for
Amendment of 1992 Constitutional Provisions on the Office of
Auditor-General and the Audit Service", undated and published on the
website of the Audit Service:
http://www.ghaudit.org/reports/Proposal+for+Constitutional+Amendment.pdf.

It said the document stated that in the past, both Parliament and "the
development partners who have invested in the national budget" had
unsuccessfully urged the A-G to fully and truly deploy the
disallowance and surcharge powers.

"The Office of the Auditor-General has received adverse comments from
the development partners who have invested in the national budget and
also from Parliament for not actively introducing measures to
implement the provisions on surcharge and disallowance," it said.

Contention

According to OG, the constitutional and statutory powers of
disallowance and/or surcharge were much more expansive than had been
exercised in the past and had purportedly been explained by the A-G.

It urged the A-G to take urgent steps to issue all relevant
disallowances and/or surcharges from the date the 1992 Constitution
came into force to date.

Credit: graphiconline.com.gh

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