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

Ace Ankomah
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.

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: Graphic.com.gh

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