The government has suspended the payment of salaries to 2,383 potential ghost names on the payroll of the public educational sector with immediate effect.
The number is part of 13,724 staff members of the sector who were not at post at the time of a head count exercise last year.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), in conjunction with the Ghana Statistical Service, the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department, the Audit Service and the Office of the Head of the Civil Service, organised the head count, which covered 282,889 members of staff of the public educational sector.
The acting Director of the Economic Planning Division of MoFEP, Dr Alhassan Idrisu, told the Daily Graphic that purging the public sector payroll was an ongoing exercise by the government to ensure that the country spent according to what it could generate.
The fiscal consolidation, he said, would also enable the government to identify potential ghost names and expunge them, as well as identify areas of waste in public expenditure and prevent them.
“The exercise is part of a comprehensive programme to ensure fiscal consolidation. This means that the government is trying to spend according to what it has and areas of waste will be identified and eliminated,” Dr Idrisu explained.
The exercise is a follow-up to what was started in 2006. A similar exercise was conducted in the health sector between 2007 and 2008 and remedial measures implemented.
The Verification Committee working on the exercise was yet to determine which ministries would be next affected but Dr Idrisu told the Daily Graphic that the exercise would cover all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The census categorised staff into people “At Post” and “Not at Post”. The heads of the educational facilities, that is, the headmasters, provided information on the “Not at Post” category.
But it came out that out of the 13,724 people classified as “Not at Post”, 2,383 of them were potential ghost names, leaving 11,341 to be classified as “Verifiable Potential Ghosts” whose true status would become clearer upon the outcome of a verification test.
Besides, the heads of facilities could still not state whether another category of 3,522 staff members were “At Post” or “Not at Post”.
For that category of staff members, the committee would again conduct a verification test based on which they could be declared ghost names or otherwise.
According to the Ministry of Finance, staff members who noticed that their salaries had been stopped should provide compelling evidence for a possible reinstatement.
“Affected staff members who have genuine reasons to warrant reinstatement of their names on the payroll should provide documents on or before the end of June 2010 to the Verification Committee through the Office of the Director, Economic Planning, Division, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning for verification,” a statement issued by the Finance Ministry directed.
The documents include a copy of appointment letter, the latest promotion letter (if applicable), a copy of the latest pay slip, a note certified by respective facility manager about existence of the member of staff, proof of reason for not being at post during the census, a valid identity card and any relevant information.
The statement said if no response was received within the specified period, the affected names would be permanently deleted from the government payroll.
The exercise would not stop there, as Dr Idrisu gave the assurance that the Auditor-General had been requested to initiate investigations into how the 2,383 potential ghost staff members got onto the payroll and recommend appropriate sanctions against culprits.
The ghost names were paid from the mechanised payroll, with others being paid from internally generated funds, the National Youth Employment Programme and district assemblies.
Dr Idrisu also warned that facility managers who connived to provide false documentation would face the full rigours of the law.