GH¢2.1bn Cash Chopped

Members of Parliament (MPs) from both sides of the House were yesterday overawed by the extent of misappropriation and malfeasance in most public institutions and public companies.

The sentiments of the MPs followed revelations by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) based on the Reports of the Auditor-General on Public Accounts of Ghana – public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions – for 2010 and 2011, laid in the House.

The report revealed that a total of GH¢2.1 billion was misappropriated and misapplied by these institutions within a two-year period.

The main offenders were the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Ghana Trade Fair Company (GTFC).

COCOBOD was accused of not paying dividends since the 2003/2004 financial year and that in 2010 alone it made a profit of GH¢158.6 million; but the response of officials of the board was that it (COCOBOD) had been using the money to construct ‘cocoa roads’ in the country.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member for Akim Oda, William Quaitoo, who once worked with COCOBOD, said the explanation by officials of the board concerning the non-payment of dividends was a complete lie because the budget for ‘cocoa roads’ are incorporated as part of their expenditure before profits are declared.

Additional amount of GH¢17.8 million was said to have been loaned by COCOBOD to the Cocoa Marketing Company in 2010, but there were no documents to prove that.

SSNIT was also accused of using public funds to make bad investments which do not yield any profit for contributors.

According to the report, SSNIT kept investing in Bessblock Limited, an estate developer, which was continuously making losses.

The report also noted that SSNIT Guest House in Accra had been making losses since 2002 while the Trust Hospital also made losses in 2006 and 2007.

The Ghana Trade Fair Company was found ballooning the cost of repairs and maintenance by almost three times the original figures.

The maintenance cost of GTFC in 2009 was GH¢124,724 but that increased to GH¢308,535 in 2010.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member for Atwima Nwabiagya, Isaac Asiamah, was shocked that such a whopping amount of GH¢2.1 billion could just go down the drain because of mismanagement and malfeasance, adding that all such public officers who are indicted in the report must be made to refund the money because the nation is currently in distress and needs money for development.

He called for the strengthening of the Audit Report Implementation Committees and also charged them to be proactive in the implementation of all recommendations made in the Auditor-General’s report.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member for Ho Central, Benjamin Kpodo, said such irregularities come from the payroll system and so that area must be properly monitored and scrutinised.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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