The Ketu District Assembly in the Volta Region has held an emergency meeting last week Friday at Denu to discuss and adopt an audit report on the disbursement of 750 million cedis HIPC funds for Keta District Assembly, which was erroneously credited to the Ketu District Assembly by the National Investment Bank (NIB) in 2004.
The audit report catapulted the Members of the Assembly into a heated debate on the necessary action taken by three key persons to withhold the amount without using it.
The personalities blamed were the former District Chief Executive, Hon Linus Coffie, the former District Finance Officer, Mr Geoffrey Tsikata and the former District Coordinating Director, Mr Divine Ayidzoe.
The Assembly could however not fully discuss the audit report and resolved to write a formal letter to the former DCE and the two others to pay 35 million cedis which accrued as interest on the 750 million cedis since 2004 to the NIB.
The Assembly condemned the former DCE for taking action without involving the Assembly Members, especially in relation to how the 750 million cedis HIPC fund was disbursed and described it as “One man decision” which they noted, was against District Assembly practices and norms.
The Assembly Members also did not understand circumstances surrounding the deduction at source of 147 million cedis in 2004 from the Assembly's Common Fund, for the supply of television sets purchased from the HIPC fund to various schools in the District and decided to enquire from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning for further explanation.
The Assembly was to approve a list of new by laws without copies given to the Members, but the high-table, led by the DCE, Hon Justice Cudjoe, requested the members to approve the by laws in absentia, so copies would be given to them later, but the members refused and demanded to scrutinizes those laws before passing. But this action of the members brought the meeting to an abrupt end.
The audit report indicated that 136 million cedis out of the 750 million cedis was used to purchase 20 colour television sets and distributed to some schools in areas where there was no electricity to operate them, making it impossible for the pupils to benefit from the President's Personal Initiative on Distance Learning in the District.
The audit report further revealed that the Assembly, under the former Ketu DC, awarded a contract of 210.7 million cedis for an extension of pipe borne water project out of the 750 million cedis, which was abandoned by the contractor, Messrs Omstar Ltd. The report recommended that Management of the Assembly should prevail upon the contractor to complete the project meant for the benefit of the people.
According to the audit report, the failure of the former DCE, former District Finance Officer and the former District Coordinating Director to investigate, with the view of finding the source of the additional 750 million cedis before disbursing it, has caused an initial financial loss of 35 million cedis to the Ketu District Assembly, being the interest on that amount since 2004.
The audited report also noted that the approved HIPC prioritized projects and programmes did not include the provision of television sets and the decision of the former DCE Coffie to purchase the television sets therefore contravened the guidelines on the utilization of HIPC funds.