General News of Monday, 7 August 2017
In the event that the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Sophia Akuffo, sets up a Committee to investigate the uproar at the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana, one of the key witnesses likely to be called to assist them in their work is the former Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper.
Terkper may not be directly involved in the impasse at the EC but Kasapafmonline.com is well informed that his actions and inactions might have contributed to the conflict that has ensued between the Chairperson of the Commission, Charlotte Osei and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa as well some other directors.
Should he (Terkper) be invited, he would be required to provide answers to why he failed to make releases to the Commission knowing very well it was hard hit with financial challenges and therefore, needed a bailout.
A letter from a former Director of Finance of the Commission, Samuel Yorke Aidoo, dated February 18, 2016, and addressed to Charlotte Osei, a copy of which has been intercepted by Kasapafmonline.com, is accusing the former Finance Minister of failing to make releases to the Commission, a situation the letter concluded, compelled managers of the election management body to transfer funds from the Staff Endowment Fund to the Commission’s operations account.
This move, according to Mr. Yorke Aidoo, was the only option they could pursue to save the Commission from the financial crisis they went through after Dr. Kwabena Duffour was removed from office as Finance Minister [and replaced by Seth Terkper] and the subsequent implementation of the GIFMIS system.
Mr. Yorke Aidoo was responding to a letter written to him by the Chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Osei, requesting for “Official response to misapplication of proceeds from Staff Endowment Fund”
“A the time the Commission was preparing the budget for the 2012 elections, design of the new verification system which was going to be part of the elections had not been concluded, so the real cost of the system was not known. Therefore, whatever provision made in the budget was grossly infinitesimal to have covered the entire financial implications of the verification system.
“As a result, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan led delegations to meet then Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffour to discuss how the cost of the verification system could be financed. I recalled the maturity and the nationalistic posture of Dr. Duffour and the commitment he made to finance the verification system. True to his word, the Minister released funds periodically to support the Commission in the preparations for the elections.
“The fact was that during the conduct of the election in December 2012, the third quarter release had not been made. Dr. Duffour promised to release the funds involved but could not do it before the end of the year. Unfortunately, he was replaced in the first quarter of 2013 and that triggered the financial crisis of the Commission. The new Minister of Finance [Seth Terkper] probably, did not know of the promise or assurance the previous Minister had made to Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, so the outstanding funds were not released as expected.
“Let me state for a fact that the Commission as a practice made financial savings after the conduct of every major exercise and that supported the budget of the Commission. The only time the Commission did not make any financial saving in recorded history was after the 2012 elections. It was also the first time in history that the Commission delayed in the payment of allowances to the operatives who worked during the elections. It took the Commission well over three (3) months to pay the allowances of operatives. Several other payments were in arrears. It was the first time in the history of the Commission that the Printers who printed ballot papers for the elections petitioned the Minister for Finance [Seth Terkper] for their monies. Most of the services from our service providers were rendered on credit. Fuel was credited from GOIL and others which was uncharacteristic of the Commission. Some of the accredited garages that repaired our vehicles threatened legal action for non-payments and indeed, one of them lodged a complaint with a debt collector to retrieve their money.
“The situation was such bad. Unfortunately, it was the same period that the Commission was in court over the same elections. It was also the same period that the Ministry of Finance started the implementation of the GIFMIS which effectively ended the regime of financial savings by the Commission.
“The Minister of Finance was not releasing any money. The only releases were in respect of item one of the budget (i.e. salaries) which the Auditor-General closely monitored and gave financial authorization for such releases.
“The Commission operated two major accounts all at the Bank of Ghana (i.e. main account and operations account) and other special accounts. I must stress that the situation was so terrible and harrowing that the Commission resorted to transferring funds from the main and the special accounts into the operations account for the purposes of managing the activities of the Commission. These transfers were also formally and officially approved,” the response letter from Mr. Yorke Aidoo in part read. The letter further noted that “In the case of the Endowment Fund, it was the inability of the Commission to make expected payment due to the financial crisis. If the Commission had made the expected financial savings in 2012, as it did in all previous exercises since time immemorial, this crisis would never have occurred. Furthermore, had it not been the implementation of the GIFMIS which rationalized management of funds and eliminated the prospects of financial savings, a lot of savings would have been made and payments into the Endowment Fund would not have been an issue.
“I am sure that the financial statements of the programs the Commission undertook are available to show that there was no lacuna in the activities of the Commission and that funds were actually utilized to perform statutory functions/obligations and would show where those funds were taken from and who gave approvals for those funds to be transferred and withdrawn.
“I am also sure that several letters signed by the Deputy Chairmen (F&A) to the Minister of Finance during the period will support my submission and amplify for better understanding and appreciation of the situation the Commission found itself at the time and the sacrifices and stressful moments we endured to survive the dark days and therefore the need to appreciate, recognise and commend not the ill-natured name calling and malevolent accusations and insults being levelled against some of us for no apparent reason.
“I am also sure that Mr. Amadu Sulley and Ms. Georgina Opoku Amankwaa who were my direct bosses and indeed Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan himself can recall their personal experiences about the efforts they made in the area of financial releases from the Minister of Finance and the trauma and anxiety they might have gone through.”