The Government of the Republic of Ghana has in the last few years up to July 2006 been paying some two thousand and twenty three (2,023) ghost workers, whose names were on public payroll of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and swelling government expenditure to the detriment of the state.
Speaking in Accra the Controller and Accountant-General, Mr. Christian Tetteh Sottie said his outfit sent out students on vacation employment to all MDA's in July/August 2006 to conduct the exercise of cross-checking on the genuineness of payrolls, and it was in the process that the 2,023 ghost names were detected.
He said the ghost names were made up of three categories of people. One set was made up of people that were dead, but were apparently still being paid by government, and there were those who had either resigned from their various establishments or had gone on retirement, but were all still being paid by the state.
Exonerating the Controller and Accountant General's Department from the perception that ghost names are manufactured in his outfit Mr. Sottie indicated that the problem of ghost names on public payrolls rest at the doorsteps of the MDAs that feed his department with details of the personnel in each state outfit. These lists of personnel and the details come as validated, and his department feeds them into the government payroll system to process them for payment of salaries.
Mr. Sottie said the system will then match the information against the original personnel data from the MDAs in its memory, and it is only after this that the department can begin its process of effecting payment.
The Controller and Accountant General pointed out that the problem of ghost names is pervasive around the world, since everywhere people resign or vacate their post on daily basis, others die or go on retirement, but due to the delay in updating records of MDAs all those who have left are still "paid."
He stopped short of saying it, but history has proven that some top personnel at the different levels of the MDAs intentionally refrain from reporting their reduced numbers and profit thereby.
One could see therefore that it is not the fault of the department, affirmed Mr. Sottie, who added, "Thus the perception that the department could manufacture ghost names and cash in on the system is a misplaced one."
"Blames of the existence of ghost names on public payrolls on the department is the figment of people's imagination, which has been overplayed," he said and added, that is not possible, since the Controller and Accountant General's Department does not have access to the data that is available to the human resource departments of the various MDAs.
Mr. Sottie however allayed the fears of Ghanaians by saying, since July last year, the payroll has been purged of those ghost names making the payroll clean. He however pointed out that the problem of ghost names is a constant one since the means by which it emerges happen every day.
Meanwhile, he says, his department has taken tough steps to move in a direction that will forestall any attempt to defraud the nation either through impersonation or indulgence in fraudulent practice.
Information available to The Independent also says the department is currently putting in place a mechanism by which it could take the fingerprints of all staff of MDAs to ensure that fraud perpetrated against the state in the form of impersonation, collusion and other negative accounting practices are reduced to the barest minimum if not completely eradicated.
The information also indicated that photographs of all government employees would be taken to make it easier for personnel of MDAs to be identified.
Credit: The Independent