General News of Monday, 16 February 2015
Source: Graphic Online
The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, has expressed concern about the disregard for the country’s financial laws and regulations by public institutions and called for an urgent meeting of the House to discuss how to effectively deal with the issue.
He said Article 187 (6) of the 1992 Constitution empowered Parliament to act in the public interest to address issues bordering on financial irregularities as contained in the Auditor General’s report.
He underscored the need for the House to meet as early as next week to determine how to hold public organisations to account for their failure to adhere to the country’s financial rules and regulations.
Mr Adjaho made the statement following a release of the report of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on the findings of the Auditor General with regard to the accounts of pre-university educational institutions for 2010 and 2011.
The report, presented to the House by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Kwaku Agyeman – Manu, pointed to the fact that blatant disregard for the financial laws and regulations of the country by pre-university educational institutions was on the ascendancy.
According to the report, financial irregularities cited by the Auditor General in 2011 were more than those in 2010, giving an indication that the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the management of pre-university institutions had done little to ensure that the recurrence of malfeasance was reduced to the barest minimum, if not eliminated.
The report revealed that the irregularities which occurred in some of the institutions were due to general laxity in controls and disregard for financial rules and regulations.
It also revealed that recommendations by the Auditor General and Parliament were ignored.
The report further showed that 179 out of 583 pre-university institutions failed to submit their financial statements for 2010 for validation as required by law. In 2011, the number reduced to 113.
This comprises an amount of Ghc233,324.65 in respect of purchases from non-VAT entities, Ghc177,055.41 in respect of failure to withhold tax and the remaining Ghc233,144.17, representing non-remittance of taxes collected.
The report stated that contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663), 102 institutions undertook procurement amounting to Ghc6, 768,967.62 in an uncompetitive manner.
It noted that 92 institutions failed to delete the names of staff who were no longer working from their payrolls, while 81 institutions failed to cover salary advances amounting to Ghc351,877
With regard to purchases not routed through stores, the report said 71 schools disregarded store regulations by failing to make appropriate entries on store items. This amounted to Ghc1,326,705.
Mr Adjaho, a former MP, said he had been on many parliamentary committees in the past, including the Public Accounts Committee, and had realised that some of the issues that came up in the past, with regard to irregularities on the part of public institutions, were recurring.
“This is not about NDC or NPP,” he said.
The Member for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah, who was the first to point to the constitutional provisions, said Parliament needed to enforce discipline and ensure that organisations sanctioned individuals who engaged in financial irregularities.
According to him, some institutions in the country committed “financial murder” and got away with it.