The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has served notice it may sanction Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan, for failing to have the Commission’s accounts audited for 2012.
Dr. Afari Gyan tried to take solace in the fact that it was not the first time the institution has delayed in auditing its accounts due to the “enormity of work that we do”, explaining that external auditors are currently working on the accounts.
But the Chairman of the Committee, Kweku Agyemang Manu would not accept that explanation, as he reminded the EC boss that the failure to audit the accounts of the commission is a breach of the country’s financial regulations.
“That means you are late in submitting your accounts. 2013 should be the one on the desk now for the auditors to work on. So you are about a year or so behind time, and that is a breach of the financial regulations,” Chairman of the committee intimated
Agyeman Manu hinted that the Committee may recommend to the finance ministry to withhold release of funds to the Commission “at least for a year”.
Sensing danger, Dr. Afari Gyan conceded that failing to have the accounts audited by now goes with sanctions, pleading, “I hope you don’t apply them”.
However, Dr. Afari Gyan also reminded the Committee of the consequences of not releasing funds to the EC. The Commission, he said, has some very important national duties including the district level election to conduct this year.
For instance, he noted, it is impossible to hold this year’s election in October as scheduled because Parliament delayed in approving the budget for the election.
Nevertheless, he submitted, “I would ask for forgiveness, and for you, in fact, to ensure that the releases are timely so that we are able to do the work”.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Committee was unyielding as he noted, “I think we will confer with the auditors and look at what sanctions we can probably mete out [to the Electoral Commission]”.
The Commission’s chair was accompanied by his two Deputy Commissioners, some directors and the external auditors.
In another development, Mr. Agyamang Manu enquired from Dr. Afari Gyan if the impending district assembly elections would encounter similar fate like the previous one, which was conducted in piece meal.
But Dr. Afari Gyan assured that the Commission has “no intention of repeating” the “tot-by-tot” conduct in the next election especially if it receives a timely release of funds.
The Commission was also quizzed on its insufficient documents backing fuel consumption in the 2010/2011 audited accounts.
The accounts of five districts in the Brong Ahafo Region were not captured under the report of the Auditor General.
But members of the Commission took turns to explain that no funds were misappropriated. According to them, the districts delayed in submitting their reports, which happened after external auditors had done their work on the region.
Members of the Public Accounts Committee were not enthused by the explanation and impressed upon Dr. Afari Gyan to apply sanctions against officials involved, which he obliged.
The Commission also told PAC they were not privy to the final report of the Auditor General explaining their inability to reconcile the differences before appearing before the Committee.
The Committee had no choice but to suspend sitting and directed the Commission, to within one week, supply it with the necessary documents disapproving claims that the monies allocated to fuel in those districts, have not been misapplied.
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