President vows to eliminate ‘ghost’ names on payroll

Government has begun an intensive hunt for persons who deliberately insert ‘ghost names’ into the national payroll system for severe sanctions.

President John Dramani Mahama re-echoed a May Day warning at the just-ended National Economic Forum at Senchi in Eastern Region that, “We are about to embark on a vigorous exercise to discover and remove ghost names and to severely sanction persons responsible for the insertion of such names.”

The non-partisan forum provided an opportunity for high level personalities from all walks of life within the country to deliberate pressing national issues while proposing short to medium terms solutions to fix them.

The chase for ‘ghosts” into the national payroll system has become a major source of worry to the country’s economic managers and donor institutions.

President Mahama in 2013, using meat to describe the state of the economy, said the little meat on the bone had been eaten so it was left with the bone.

But Finance Minister, Mr Seth Terpker, announced at one of the plenary sessions at the National Economic Forums that the government was cleaning and ‘exorcising’ the public payroll of ‘ghost names’ to halt the ghosts from chewing more of the country’s meat.

The situation has literally caused a fiscal slippage underpinned by shortfalls in revenue and grants, higher spending on wages and salaries including that of ‘ghosts’ as well as interest costs.

Among others, a communiqué issued at the end of the three-day National Economic Forum partly states that: “The Ministry of Finance should as a matter of urgency review the targets set in the 2014 budget. The review must identify likely deviations and make proposals for plugging the resultant financing gap.”

One of the biggest problems that has confronted Mahama’s presidency to date has to do with the rising wage bill which consumes 74 per cent of the country’s internally generated funds.

Ghana currently has a huge number of workers on government payroll. With a population of about 25 million, the country’s civil servants form about two per cent of the population, yet these 500,000 workers take a chunk of the country’s total income, leaving just about 26 per cent for other important government undertakings. The ghosts discovered so far

In January this year, over 2,913 ghost names were removed from the Ghana Education Service payroll .

A Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the names were detected when the ministry conducted audit of its staff in seven regions of the country, adding that the exercise in the three northern regions was still ongoing.

According to him, investigations showed that the GES had more than enough teachers at the basic level but there was the problem of understaffing in some schools. Again some teachers sit in offices at the GES district offices without doing anything.

According to him, the Volta Region had 25, 725 teachers at the basic level including excess teachers of 1,720, yet 244 schools were without teachers.

The Central Region had excess teachers of 1,426 and yet 34 schools were without teachers. Exorcising Korle Bu of ghosts

A month later, in February, about 1,052 members of staff could not be accounted for at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) after a head count.

An additional 60 who are paid through the hospital’s internally generated funds (IGFs) can also not be accounted for.

Of the 1,052 members of staff, 490 belong to other institutions but work under KBTH, while 84 are newly-employed nurses at the hospital.

The head count by the KBTH, in conjunction with the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department, which started on October 23, 2013, and ended on November 5, 2013, revealed that some of the members of staff who had passed away, dismissed or vacated their post still had their names on the government’s payroll. 

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