The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has threatened to sanction the Controller and Accountant-General, Ms Grace Adzroe, and her subordinates if they fail to recover GH¢825 wrongly kept in a GCB Bank account since 2011 by Wednesday next week.
The Chairman of the PAC, Mr Kweku Agyeman Manu, said the sanction might include a recommendation for a demotion or withholding of salaries per the dictates of the Financial Administration Act.
“The Speaker wants us to act with a hammer now. We do not want the public to lose confidence in the PAC,” he said.
Mr Agyeman Manu gave the caution yesterday when Ms Adzroe and the Deputy Controller and Accountant-General in charge of Treasury, Mr Seidu Kotomah, told the PAC that the GH¢825 had been lying in the account since 2011, despite the recommendation by the Auditor-General to get the money transferred to the Consolidated Fund.
The 2011 Auditor-General’s Report found out that the GH¢825, which was in respect of the renewal of gun licence by the Sogakope Divisional Commander of Police, was wrongfully lodged in a GCB Bank account at the High Street branch, Accra.
The report urged the CAGD to ensure the transfer of the money into the Consolidated Fund at the Bank of Ghana but that had not been done since 2011.
Other irregularities in the report include untransferred balances and suspense accounts that have not been transferred into the Consolidated Fund and unsupported payments.
There were also instances when payment vouchers were not supported with the necessary expenditure details such as official receipts, invoices, signed claim sheets and other expenditure returns to authenticate the transactions.
There was also a case in which pensions were paid into the accounts of dead pensioners.
According to the Auditor-General’s Report, action had been taken on most of the issues to recover the money for the state.
The Controller and Accountant-General was, together with other heads of the Ministry of Finance, departments and agencies, were at the PAC sitting to respond to the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Auditor-General’s reports.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, and one of his deputies, Ms Mona Quartey, also appeared before the committee.
Mr Agyeman Manu said contrary to the thinking by many people that the PAC should sanction officers for financial indiscipline, it was the heads of institutions who were to sanction their subordinates for failing to perform per the Public Administration Act.
He explained that it was when the heads failed to act that the PAC came in to sanction those heads.
Ms Adzroe, in response, said with the control and monitoring systems that had been put in place, the ministry would guard against the repetition of the irregularities in 2016.
Mr Terkper said the ministry had taken steps to address the irregularities detected in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 reports.
For instance, he said, the financial accounting system and the processes for releases had been automated.
He, however, admitted that it would take some time for rural banks to be brought on the automated platform.
Besides, he said, the ministry was collaborating with the Public Services Division to improve the human resource management system regarding appointments, promotions and retirements.
He said the ministry would present the Public Financial Management Bill to Parliament this year to regulate public financial management.