General News of Thursday, 20 July 2017
Former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has challenged Parliamentary Committees, especially the Committee on Government Assurances, to seek accountability regularly from Ministers of state.
Albert Kan Dapaah said the search for accountability would keep Ministers on alert and prevent misappropriation of public funds.
He, however, cautioned Parliamentarians to concentrate on seeking answers from Ministers and desist from seeking favours from them.
Mr Kan Dapaah, who is the Minister of National Security, made the call at an orientation workshop for members of the Committee on Government Assurances (CGA) at Ada on Sunday.
Topics treated at the workshop included the Mandate and Procedures of the CGA; Ensuring Accountability of Government, and the Committee and Media Relations.
He revealed that findings of financial misappropriations in the Auditor General’s reports constituted only 15 per cent of the misappropriations in the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MMDAs).
The former Interior Minister said the Auditor General conducted only a sample of the audit of the financial transactions in the MMDAs, which is a standard in auditing.
He said for instance if the Auditor General said GHC20 million could not be accounted for at a particular Ministry, it meant that about 85 per cent of that amount could also not be accounted for.
Mr Kan Dapaah said if MPs pursued Ministers to honour their promise, it would earn them respect and save them from being seen as stooges.
According to him, another challenge with the Auditor General’s reports was that the reports came out late while the public hearings by the PAC were done late.
By which time, he said, many of the offending officials might have retired or died, which made the retrieval of the money more difficult.
He said the tendency for people to “chop” public funds was ripe if there were no checks and balances to prevent them from engaging in corrupt dealings.
The best time to prevent the misappropriation of money was during the implementation stage where MMDAs used their allocations for projects and programmes, the Minister said.
He added that at that stage, Parliament could use so many tools at its disposal to seek accountability from Ministers urging the sector committees to invite them to answer questions on the use of budgetary allocations.
Mr Kan Dapaah said, the CGA was one of the powerful committees in Parliament that could prevent the misappropriation of funds as it had the power to seek answers on any financial transactions.
He reminded the group that the CGA had the mandate to question Ministers on the extent of work on their promises, pledges and undertakings.
Mr Kan Dapaa mentioned the failure of Parliament to perform its oversight functions and the lack of sanction regime as the major problems that allowed for the misappropriation of public funds.
He, therefore, called for right systems to be put in place to prevent government officials from misusing public funds.