The nation has recovered large sums of money running into thousands of new Ghana cedis as a result of the public sittings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament which is currently examining the report of the Auditor-General on Pre-Educational Institutions.
Perhaps for fear of public ridicule and contempt, organisations and individuals who were mentioned in the report as having either misappropriated school fees, made excess payments, failed to deduct withholding tax and indulging in other acts of financial malfeasance submitted receipts of payments when they appeared before the committee.
The irony was that such payments were made mostly on May 9, 2008, a situation which drew the curiosity of members of the committee who questioned why such payments were made just four days before the commencement of its sittings.
Amongst the payments effected include GH¢4,600 which was money paid to a Reverend Father of the St, Mary's Seminary and Secondary Schools at Lolobi in the Volta Region who was not at post, the misappropriation of GH¢2,600 by a former accountant of the Kpedze Secondary School, now deceased, and his successor between September 1999 and December 2004, and embezzlement of GH¢350 by two accounting staff of the Oti Banka Secondary Technical School.
In addition, GH¢920 was paid on behalf of a former bursar of Some Secondary School at Agbozume, who failed to declare and hand over cash on hand before he was transferred to the Akatsi District Education Office, whilst the Winneba Secondary School had to pay the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) GH¢1,000 as withholding tax.
The School for the Deaf in Cape Coast also presented receipts of the recovery of about GH¢5,000 from one Mr Thomas Nkrumah, a Senior Accounts Clerk of the school, who inserted ghost names on the payroll and which resulted in the payment of unearned salaries totalling GH¢ 5,700.
The report said Mr Nkrumah accepted full responsibility of the fraud and had since refunded only GH¢750.
The PAC also received receipts of payments of GH¢1,000 which was the remaining amount of GH¢1,800 which was collected by a former Headmaster of Mankessim Secondary /Technical School as imprest between May 2001 and October 2002.
According to the report, it reminded the headmaster that Special Imprest must be retired within the period allowed under the Financial Administration Regulations .It added that the headmaster paid only GH¢770, leaving a balance of GH¢1,000.
Schools in the Brong Ahafo Region such as the Berekum Secondary School also had to submit receipts for the payment of GH¢3,400 as non-deduction of withholding tax from payments made to its suppliers and service providers and which was contrary to Section 84 (2) of the IRS Act 2000, Act 592.
The Dormaa Secondary School also had to present receipts for the failure to deduct withholding tax of GH¢2,600 to the IRS, an omission it committed and which the report said could lead to loss of tax revenue to the state.
The Chairman of the PAC, Mr Samuel Sallas-Mensah, expressed concern about the calibre of accounting personnel, especially at the district levels of the country's pre-educational institutions since one of them, who described himself as an accountant and appeared before the committee, said he only had an Ordinary Level Certificate in Accounting and RSA 11.
Another member of the committee Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, also noted that the quality of accounting personnel in the lower level of the GES provided fertile grounds for misuse and embezzlement of funds.
Story by Kweku Tsen