THE AUDITOR-General has released a new audit report on public accounts of Ministries, Departments and other Agencies (MDAs), disclosing over GH¢12.23 billion irregularities in operations.
The findings of the Auditor-General, covering a period between 2017 and 2021, showed unapproved disbursements, unpresented payment vouchers, unaccounted revenue, unsupported payment vouchers, funds to bank not credited, non-lodgment of public funds, misapplication of funds and unretired imprest by the MDAs.
The report captured GH¢892,396,375.19 as irregularities under 2017, GH¢5,196,043,399.94 for irregularities in 2018, GH¢ 3,008,187,888.15 for 2019, GH¢ 2,053,176,449.85 for 2020, and GH¢ 1,080,931,937 for 2021, bringing to a total of GH¢12,230,736,050.13.
The report disclosed that in 2021 alone, “the overall financial impact of weaknesses and irregularities identified in the course of my audit amounted to GH¢1,080,913,824.”
It explained, “We will investigate these matters further and where appropriate, disallow any items of expenditure that were contrary to law, and surcharge responsible officials accordingly.”
The report flagged GH¢989,026,225 as tax irregularities, GH¢ 45,763,607 as cash irregularities, GH¢30,758,576 as irregularities captured under debts, loans & advances, GH¢5,601,611 as payroll irregularities, GH¢511,569 as irregularities in stores/procurement operations, GH¢7,710,925 as rent irregularities, GH¢1,559,424 as irregularities which occurred under contract, for the year 2021.
The report indicated that tax irregularities formed 91.5% of the total financial infractions uncovered, and added that included in this tax irregularity was GH¢402,804,572 due from 28 Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) who defaulted in paying their rescheduled debt between January 2021 to December 2021.
“These irregularities could be attributed mainly to failure on the part of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to pursue the OMCs by applying the relevant measures and sanctions against defaulters,” the report noted.
The Auditor-General said it recommended that the Commissioner General of GRA ought to strengthen GRA’s monitoring and supervision of its staff.
“He should also take steps to improve efficiency in their tax collections and follow up on overdue taxes while applying sanctions as prescribed by the tax laws,” the report said.
The report disclosed that total cash irregularities noted during the period amounted to GH¢45,763,607 which represented 4.23% of the total irregularities.
These irregularities, which cut across MDAs, were attributable to infractions of unapproved disbursements, unpresented payment vouchers, unaccounted revenue, unsupported payment vouchers, funds to bank not credited, non-lodgment of public funds, misapplication of funds and unretired imprest.
Included in the total cash irregularity of GH¢45,763,607 was an amount of GH¢2,446,321.48 and US$727.00 paid on 14 payment vouchers but were not presented for examination during the reviewed period.
“In the absence of the payment vouchers and supporting documents, we recommended that the Chief Director and the Head of Finance should pay back into account, the amount involved indebtedness/loans/advances – GH¢30,758,576.00,” the report stated.
It said the irregularities captured under indebtedness/loans/advances represented 2.8% of the total irregularities.
A significant amount of these irregularities was GH¢9,521,00.00 owed by 62 companies and individuals to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the purchase of tractors.
The report recommended that the Chief Director and the Director of Engineering should recover the outstanding debt from the defaulting companies and individuals with interest at the prevailing Bank of Ghana interest rate.
The Auditor-General said payroll irregularities amounting to GH¢5,583,498.00 was recorded during the period reviewed, and added that included in the total payroll irregularities was unearned salaries totalling GH¢1,501,740.00 paid to 146 officers of 47 institutions under Ministry of Health.
The report showed that stores and procurement irregularities noted during the period amounted to GH¢511,569.00, and included in these irregularities was GH¢108,552.00 relating to items such as laptops, mathematical sets, exercise books, and nose masks procured through the MP’s share of the GETFund from two suppliers by the Ghana Education Service, Akropong-Akuapem, which were not accounted for.
“The irregularity was due to the direct supply of the items to the MP’s office without available records on the items at the Municipal Education Office before distribution was carried out,” the report explained.
“We recommended that the Member of Parliament should account for the items worth GH¢108,552.00, failing which he should refund the money,” the report noted.
On rent, the report said the irregularity was GH¢7,710,925.00, which included GH¢600,013.00 due from government workers from 13 health institutions who defaulted in the payment of rent; and US$993,600.00 due government from 48 occupants of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) flats.
The irregularity was due mainly to the ineffectiveness of management in the collection of rent from the occupants.
“We recommended recovery of the rent from the operatives of National Security and the other tenants, failing which they should be ejected from the flats,” the report pointed out.
The report revealed that total contract irregularities of GH¢1,559,424.00 was reported and included an amount of GH¢1,188,816.00 which was an interest paid on delayed payments for contract certificates raised.