Friday, 5 July 2013

Prosecuting People For State Funds Misappropriation

President Mahama's directive to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to set up a Committee to start prosecuting people cited in the Auditor-General's report for misappropriating state funds scores him another plus. Speaking at the Senior Citizen's luncheon to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of Ghana's attainment of Republican status, President Mahama is reported as saying that the move is to send clear signals to people that they could not dip their hands into the state coffers and go scot-free. The 2011 Auditor General report indicates that the country lost more than two billion cedis to financial irregularities. These include cash embezzlement, payroll irregularities, uncovered debts, procurement and tax irregularities by over 80 public boards, Corporation and Institutions. According to the report out of the total figure, misapplication of funds, embezzlements, unverified payments and uncredited bank lodgements due to poor control environment and ineffective internal credit units at the various public boards, Corporation and Statutory Institutions resulted in nearly two billion cedis less in cash irregularities alone.

Leakages in the national kitty do not augur well for accelerated national development. The country needs funds to initiate development projects to enhance the living standards of the people. It is unfortunate we go with cup in hand to solicit for loans yet, we do not watch over these monies well making them leak into individual projects. Transparency and Accountability are integral parts of sustainable development. The District Assemblies Common Fund is one area government needs to keep eagle eyes on because it is very much prior to abuse. Utilisation guidelines are not adhered to and MMDAs do not use the monies received for the intended purpose, for instance section 87(2) of the Local Government Act 1993, (ACT 462) stipulates among other things that all monies received by MMDA from the Common Fund should be expanded only on projects that form part of the approved development plans of the Assemblies. Let’s ask over selves how many assemblies adhere to this directive? It is imperative that government strengthens the Internal Audit of the Assemblies because they act as gate keepers against misuse of funds. It is well known that most of the assemblies especially those in the North are unable to generate sufficient internal revenue for their recurrent expenditure. Under the District Assemblies Common Fund, the Assemblies are ordered seven and a half percent of the total revenue (generate) from within. The on-going judgement Debts Commission hearing is replete with reckless acts by some district assemblies resulting in the court awarding compensation of some victims. Another disturbing aspect of the Audit General's report were disclosure that management of the state -owned Ghana Railway Company could not account for about 800 million cedis revenue collected between 2005 and 2006. According to the report the Company collected out six point eight million cedis but only six million was lodged into the company's designated bank accounts leaving the whereabouts of the remaining eight million or so in a mystery.

As the Audit General recommended, it is pertinent to put in place adequate mechanisms towards debt recovery to ensure prompt recoveries on due dates to avoid the occurrence of bad debts. There is also the need to enhance supervision over accounting staff whiles prompts payment of imprest, authentication of all pay vouchers and early credit judgement are adhere to. President Mahama has within the short time that he has been in the office shown beyond deeds that he is committed to the anti-corruption crusade. This has been amplified by this later directive to the Attorney General. The state is for us all and not a few individuals. Many individuals find it difficult to make ends meet due to the corrupt practices venture to ensure a clean state.

BY: JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST.

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