Public officers who cause judgment debt should be surcharged – Martin Kpebu

Public officers who cause judgment debt should be surcharged – Martin Kpebu

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Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu has called on the government to surcharge public officials whose negligence results in the country paying some judgment debts.

Speaking on Newsfile on Saturday, he said that although the government cannot run from judgement debt as long as it operates, some public officials have to be held accountable if they are found to cause financial loss to the state.

“There are some things we can’t run away from as long as government runs. There will be judgement debt but some errant public officers may cause judgment debt, so if we find out it is the fault of a certain public officer we should surcharge them,” Mr Kpebu stressed.

He said that “perhaps we should open the debate again on some of these judgment debts specifically to know how they were caused, so that we will know if efforts should be made to surcharge the public officers involved. I think the law allows that.”

Mr Kpebu noted that this “critical” action should be given a lot of attention to serve as a notice to other public officers to sit up to avoid causing the state financial loss.

This comes after the Finance Ministry revealed to JoyNews that the government has paid in total, an amount of GH¢125 million as judgment debt since 2017.

The Highest Judgment debt was paid in 2018. An amount of GH¢30.9 million was paid to Jubilee Tractors and Assembly Plant Limited. This arose from a case filed against the National Security Council. In 2017, an amount of 29.5 million cedis was paid to NDK Financial Services.

President Akufo-Addo’s government between 2017 and 2020 paid GH¢120million of GH¢125million in total judgment debt.

So far, GH¢2.8 million in judgment debt has been paid by the government in the year 2022.

Meanwhile, the Fellow in charge of Finance and Economy Pillar at the Center for Social Justice has said that government needs to establish a database that makes public information on judgment debts.

Dr Theresa Blankson said that “if you want to restore faith in governance then you need to be transparent in these issues. So for the most part we need to have a register that is detailing all these contracts.”

“We need to have a database indicating the judgement debt that is issued, what is paid and what is outstanding. We need a database to get some of these things going and it should be made public,” she added.

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