By Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, June 14, GNA - Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the Auditor-General, on Friday, said the Audit Service would by the end of this month release a special audit report it conducted on some public institutions that were involved in financial misappropriation.
He assured of his unflinching commitment towards the enforcement of anti-graft laws, noting that though fighting corruption exposed one to danger, it was dangerous not to fight corruption at all.
He lauded government for supporting the Audit Service with 34 vehicles over the past two years, increasing the Service’s budget allocations by three folds and given clearance for recruitment of 400 personnel to beef up its human resource base.
Mr Domelevo said this at the maiden public lecture organised by Occupy Ghana and Audit Service to commemorate the landmark judgment by the Supreme Court in a case between Occupy Ghana versus Attorney-General.
The Supreme Court ruling on June 14, 2017 compelled the Auditor-General to disallow and surcharge public officials for misappropriation of public funds.
The landmark ruling enabled the Auditor-General to disallow the payment of GHS5.4 billion, which was presented as claims by Ministries, Department and Agencies, while some public servants were surcharged for various financial infractions.
“From surcharging to safeguarding: Next steps in the fight to protect the public purse” was the theme for the lecture, which attracted representatives from civil society organizations, the academia, public servants, policy-makers and the public.
Mr Domelevo suggested that prosecution of financial infractions should not only be decentralised, but should be commercialsed so that private legal firms or individuals could take up cases of financial misappropriation to court.
He said for instance, if a private legal firm or legal practitioner was able to successfully prosecute a case and retrieved the funds, 20 per cent of the recovered funds should be given to that firm or the person.
Mr Domelevo noted that the Supreme Court’s decision was historic and leading the way for accountability and transparency because the law was being used as reference material by some African countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia and South Africa, who had passed similar anti-graft laws.
He lamented that most African nations paid lip-service to the fight against corruption because they set up institutions but failed to resource them adequately to fight corruption.
The Auditor-General lauded government for implementing digital reforms in the public service and indicated that the Audit Service had already began implementing Audit Management Information System to enhance efficiency and asked government to digitise the operations of the Accountant-General’s Department as well.
He lamented weak internal audit system, which had created a leeway for some heads of public institutions to manipulate internal auditors deployed to the various ministries, departments and agencies and asked government to place internal auditors under the Audit Agency, in order to guarantee their independence.
Mr Domelevo observed that most public servants were not complying with the Declaration of Assets and Liability law, which compelled senior public servants and directors of public institution to declare their assets before assuming office, renew it after four years and declare it before proceeding on retirement.
Therefore, he said, the Service would soon conduct a nationwide survey to ascertain those who had complied with the law or otherwise, in order to take the necessary legal action against defaulters.
He said the recent payroll audit conducted by his outfit had enabled some ‘ghost names’ in the payroll to be removed and would soon issue management notices to head of public institutions who failed to report those people to the state.
He said the head of those institutions would be surcharged and made to pay the amount involved.
He assured the public that the Service currently had engineers, quantity surveyors and other key professionals to conduct audit and explore all the sectors of the economy to protect the public purse, noting that there were competent staff who were undertaking the road infrastructure audit across the country to check compliance to specifications.
He called for effective collaboration between anti-graft institutions such as the Economic and Organised Crime Office, Financial Intelligence Unit, Criminal Investigations Department of the Police Service, civil society and all well-meaning Ghanaians to provide relevant information and clues to protect public purse.