OCCUPYGHANA, a fast growing non-political pressure group, has intensified its demands to get the Auditor-General to act on its report findings that identified irregularities leading to loss of huge sums of money to the state.
According to the pressure group, the Auditor- General since the 1992 Constitution came into effect, had made numerous findings of irregularities on the part of public officials but never acted to get a single culprit punished, and that it was time to put pressure on him to act.
OccupyGhana had always threatened that should the Auditor-General fail to act, it would proceed to court to enforce the constitutional provisions setting out the functions of the Auditor-General; and after a back-and-forth argument, it appears OccupyGhana would be heading for court soon.
The latest ‘warning letter’ issued by the pressure group to the Auditor-General was signed by George Andah, a leading member with the title: ‘Re: Request for the exercise of the Auditor-General’s powers of disallowance and surcharge and notice of action,’ which sets 14 days for compliance.
The statement said on January 9, 2015 the group wrote to the Auditor-General and disagreed with his ‘attempted explanations and answers’ to a previous demand for action which they had sent on November 12, 2014 which they said were ‘extremely inadequate and entirely without merit.’
‘The Auditor-General has misconstrued and then placed a unilateral, unreasonable and unconstitutional limitation on the powers of Disallowance and Surcharge under the Constitution (Article 187(7)(b)), the Audit Service Act and the Audit Service Regulations.’
They said further that the Auditor-General ‘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 governs the Report to Parliament.’
OccupyGhana posited that the Auditor-General ‘appears completely oblivious of further powers of Disallowance and Surcharge under the Local Government Act,’ adding that he had given information concerning the setting up of a Joint committee ‘to look at cases spanning 2006 to 2011,’ and said it is ‘a manifestly inadequate response’ to the requests for confirmation sought in the group’s November 12, letter.
As a final demand, OccupyGhana said it had invited the Auditor-General to ‘agree with us that the constitutional and statutory powers of Disallowance and/or Surcharge are much more expansive than have been exercised in the past and have purportedly been explained in the 9 December, 2014 letter.’
They also want the Auditor-General to ‘take urgent steps to issue all relevant Disallowances and/or Surcharges from the coming into force of the Constitution to date.’
The pressure group had specifically asked the Auditor-General to make public details of any scheme of rewards established for persons who provided information leading to successful recovery of funds arising from audits undertaken into reported cases and whether there had been any reported cases since it was set up.
They wanted 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 as well as a copy of the certification issued in a court case involving a Surcharge referred to by the Auditor- General.
They further demanded copies of ‘adverse comments’ received from Parliament and ‘Development Partners’ about the Disallowance and Surcharge powers.
BY William Yaw Owusu
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