MoF: 3 ‘ghosts’ earn GHS1m as salaries from Jan 2020 to Dec 2021 – A-G report

MoF: 3 ‘ghosts’ earn GHS1m as salaries from Jan 2020 to Dec 2021 – A-G report

The Auditor General has revealed that the Ministry of Finance (MoF) paid three persons a total of GH¢1,112,895.96 as salaries for the period January 2020 to December 2021 although they were not staff of the Ministry.

Regulation 86 of the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (L.I. 2378) states that, a Principal Spending Officer of a covered entity shall ensure that only the names of personnel who are eligible to receive payment for work done are kept on the payment voucher and keep records of the nominal roll of the covered entity in a manner that ensures that the correct amount of emolument is paid.

But the Auditor General in his audit report for the year 2021 noted that he could not trace the personal files and names of the three persons who received salaries for a year on the nominal roll of the Ministry.

The details are as follows:

The A-G has recommended that the amount of GH¢1,112,895.96 should be recovered from the Chief Director and the payroll validators of Ministry.

Read excerpts of other findings by the Auditor-General in relation to the Ministry of Finance:

Failure to withhold taxes – GH¢70,103.00

Section 116 of the Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896) as amended mandates a resident person, other than an individual, to withhold tax on the gross amount of the payment at the rate specified in the First Schedule where that person pays a service fee or insurance premium with a source in the country to a non-resident and the amount involved exceeds two thousand currency points.

Also, Section 117 provides that a withholding agent who fails to withhold tax shall pay the tax that should have been withheld.

We noted that the Treasury and Debt Management office approved and paid Bloomberg Finance LP, a non-resident person, in respect of service charges for the use of their terminals and buyout fees but failed to withhold tax of GH¢70,102.68.

We recommended that the Chief Director should ensure the Ministry of Finance (MoF) pays the amount of GH¢70,102.68 to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Garnishee Orders on Ministry of Finance Bank Accounts

We noted that the Ministry of Finance’s Sub Consolidated Fund and Chief Director’s Bank Accounts were garnished by a court in July 2021. We also noted that in March 2022, three other Accounts of the Ministry, namely the Special Fiscal Programmes & Payments, Investor Relations Payments and Ghana Cares Accounts were also garnished and as a result the Ministry was unable to use the five accounts for any transactions.

Our review showed that Sweater & Sock Factory Ltd, D.K. Owusu & 85 Others, Togbe Anku Woade and Chude Mba obtained judgements against four MDAs and the Courts garnished the said accounts for the payment of judgement debts.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) explained that most of the Garnishee Orders were occasioned by other MDAs who did not pay for goods and services supplied and judgment debts arising from cases brought against them. The MoF also indicated that in many instances the Ministry was not informed about the court proceedings and subsequent Garnishee Orders to enable its Legal Unit make presentation at the Courts.

We recommended that the cause of the Garnishee Orders should be investigated, and appropriate sanctions applied if anyone is found culpable. We also recommended that the Ministry of Finance should seek advice from the Office of the Attorney General and Minister for Justice on the way forward in relation to the garnishee orders.

Unrecovered loans and advances – GH¢11,005,582.00

Regulation 32 of the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (L.I. 2378) states amongst others that, the Principal Spending Officer of a covered entity shall take effective and appropriate steps to collect money due the covered entity.

We noted that although the MoF grant loans and advances to civil and public servants, it does not have a control mechanism for the recovery of such loans and advances. We analysed Loans and Advances administered by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department from January 2010 to December 2021 and noted that deductions went beyond the stipulated one year for advances and up to five years for loans. There were advances and loans as old as four years eight months and 11 years, respectively yet to be fully recovered. We recommended that the Chief Director should liaise with Controller & Accountant General’s Department to ensure the immediate deduction of the outstanding amount of GH¢11,005,581.89 from the salaries of the affected persons.

Uncompetitive procurement

Section 18 of the Public Procurement Act, 2016 (Act 914) states that the head of a Procurement Entity shall ensure that provisions in the Public Procurement Act are complied with, and each stage of the procurement activity and procedures prescribed have been followed.

We noted that Management, in 15 instances, handpicked service providers to provide accommodation with conference facilities costing GH¢2,318,823.29 without subjecting the transactions to any prescribed procurement procedures. Further, the transactions were not contained in the procurement plan of the Ministry for the 2021 financial year.

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