30.10.2007 General News

Scary fact - Arms, ammunitions can't be traced

By Daily Graphic
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A gloomy picture was painted at Monday's sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament - when it came to light that the whereabouts of large quantities of arms and ammunition imported into the country in 2004 could not be traced.

That resulted from the lack of records at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.

At the last sitting of the committee to consider the Auditor General's Report for 2004 and 2005 on the Ghana Police Service, the Chairman of the FAC, Mr Samuel Sallas-Mensah, disclosed that the names of dealers in the industry who were required to renew their licences within that period could not be ascertained at the CID Headquarters.

According to him, the register for arms and ammunition and magazine dealers maintained at the CID Headquarters had not been updated with returns from the regions.

He said although the report requested the Police Service to update the list and the arrears of fees involved and present it for audit, the service explained that when the dealers' licences were adjusted upwards in 2002 through the Amendment Act of 2001, most dealers folded up.

"It further indicated in a reply to our report that it had, asked the National Firearms Registration and Vocational Licensing Authority (NFRLVA) to compile a list of active magazine dealers throughout the country and that when the exercise is completed, the list would be forwarded to us for verification. The exercise has, however, not been completed," the report added.

In his response to the query, the Inspector-General of Police (lGP), Mr Patrick Acheampong, described the situation as unfortunate, explaining that it became very difficult for the Police Service to trace the dealers in the industry, since the vast ,majority of them had changed their addresses and also relocated.

"If you go to the addresses, you cannot find them," the IGP said, stressing that the stores from where the dealers operated had been converted into other commercial ventures.

Officials of the service also had a hard time explaining to the committee why it failed to account for ration imprest to officers and men of the service at the total cost of ¢351.2 million.

The PAC Chairman said the Police Service, in contravention of laid down regulations, paid out a total of ¢412.6 million as ration imprest to various officers between November 7, 2003 and July 25,2004 but failed to ensure that the imprest was accounted for on completion of the various operational duties for which it was meant.

He said the report recommended that the various officers involved be called upon to account for the imprest and also requested to ensure timely retirement of such imprest.

Mr Sallas-Mensah explained that at the time of writing the report, ¢61.4 million had been accounted for, leaving ¢351.2 million outstanding.

Although the Police Service presented a document spelling out the details of payment of the imprest to the committee, members questioned why it had taken it such a long time to prepare the report.

The PAC Chairman accepted the report and handed it over to officials of the Auditor-General's Department officials present at the sitting for verification and authentication.

In the service's response to the query of its indebtedness to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) to the tune of ¢ 17.04 billion, Mr Acheampong said the Ministry of Finance had paid ¢11.1 billion, leaving a balance of ¢5.94 billion to be paid.

He explained that the ministry had, through a cheque dated September 30, 2005, paid ¢11.1 billion to TOR to defray part of the service's debts to the company.

According to Mr Sallas-Mensah, TOR supplied fuel on credit to the Police Service and the debt settled when funds were made available by the ministry.

He said at the time of the audit in June 2004, the ministry had settled ¢15.3 billion out of the debt of ¢32.35 billion, leaving ¢17.05 billion outstanding.

The PAC Chairman said the debt had accumulated because the service could not, for a long time, pay for fuel lifting as a result of insufficient budgetary allocations.

Mr Sallas-Mensah asked the officials of the service whether they had instituted an Audit Implementation Committee to oversee all the financial transactions in the service.

Replying, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Kwamena Bartels, who accompanied the high-ranking, police officers, said such committees had been instituted in all institutions under his ministry after his appearance before the committee on its first day of sitting.

Source: Daily Graphic

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