The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament was at its best in seeking accountability for the misappropriation of funds by state institutions during the just ended meeting of the House.
And when necessary, PAC would ask the current managers to surcharge former managers who were cited in the report for misappropriating funds.
The issues mainly bordered more on payment of salaries for work not done to former employees, misappropriation of funds and failure to keep receipts of financial transactions. It was also with some drama.
Some of the prominent cases that came up at the PAC sittings are as follows:
The PAC on one occasion accused the Ministry of Finance of engaging in financial indiscipline for releasing GH¢2.3 million to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to start an office building, which was not budgeted for.
The Chairman of PAC, Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, said it was wrong for the Ministry of Finance to release the money in 2012 to start the foundation of the office building knowing that there was no budget to continue with the construction.
At one of its sittings, it came up that the government was indebted to the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to the tune of GH¢151 million according to the 2014 Auditor General’s Report. The debt was water consumed by MDAs.
The report again cited the GWCL for delaying to make payment of statutory deductions totalling GH¢518,751.
Again, the GWCL was mentioned for recording differences between bank balances per trial balance and balances per cash book.
The PAC, on one occasion, criticised the Ministry of Finance for releasing GH¢199 million to the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA) in 2012 which was about 200 per cent above the authority’s budget of GH¢20 million for the year.
The GH¢199 million was for the payment to some companies for services rendered to GYEEDA, as well as to beneficiaries of the authority.
The committee wondered why the internal audit department of the Ministry of Finance did not institute an enquiry into the over commitment before payment.
The PAC said the officers at the Ministry of Finance who condoned the release of the GH¢199 million to GYEEDA should have been sanctioned.
Lack of preparation
The PAC suspended sittings midway through with directors of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the Cocoa Marketing Company Ghana Limited (CMCG) for providing incomplete and mixed-up responses on queries raised against them in the Auditor General’s reports.
The 2012, 2013 and 2014 Auditor General’s reports cited COCOBOD and CMCG for engaging in financial improprieties and failure to recover debts.
But much of the responses of the directors of the two state-owned companies were incomplete and incoherent.
Again, at a different sitting, Electoral Commission (EC) officials failed to provide coherent responses on a GH¢1.6 million that the commission released to its Sekondi office in 2013 for operational purposes.
They were also unable to provide detailed answers on other financial improprieties against the commission raised in the 2014 Auditor General’s Report at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sitting.
The incoherent responses compelled the PAC to suspend the sitting and gave the EC two weeks to go and prepare their accounts and come back with well prepared responses.
Surcharge former boss
The PAC, at one of its sittings,ordered the management of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) to surcharge the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority, Mr Gilbert Seidu Iddi, for a wasteful expenditure of GH¢186,372 on a trip to Turkey in 2012.
The committee gave the directive to enforce a recommendation by the 2013 Auditor General’s Report that the GH¢186,372 expended on the trip be surcharged on Mr Iddi who authorised the payments.
According to the report, the trips related to SADA and eight district assemblies that organised a sister city to Istanbul.
PURC and GNPC grilled
The PAC also grilled the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC) for spending GH¢99,663 to purchase Christmas hampers in 2012.
The purchase of the hampers was captured in the 2013 Auditor General’s Report which indicated that the accountable imprest to purchase the Christmas hampers was not retired on time.
Members of the PAC said the purchase of the hampers was not warranted, considering the fact that the commission was required mainly to protect the interest of consumers but not to please anybody.
Also grilled by the PAC was the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) over its failure to collect a total of $92,112,277 from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and the Ghana Gas Company.
The 2012 Auditor General’s Report cited the two state enterprises – TOR and Ghana Gas Company – for owing the GNPC $58,404,874 and $33,707,403 respectively.
The report recommended that the management of the GNPC should take steps to recover the monies from the two state enterprises.
Drama at PAC
Drama unfolded at one of the PAC’s sittings when the “interdicted” Director of the Department of Children, Ms Mariama Yahaya, stormed the committee sitting midday through to clarify why the Auditor General’s Report cited her for inability to account for GH¢14,000.
The report indicated that there was no expenditure documentation on the GH¢14,000.
Ms Yahaya said she monitored the PAC sitting involving the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur and felt the need to come over to clarify the issue.
Ms Yahaya said following what she described as her wrongful interdiction by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, her office was allegedly locked up.
She said all her documents covering the use of the money were locked up in the office.