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21.06.2012 Business & Finance

Attorney General submits proposals to streamline payment of judgment debt

By GNA
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Accra, June 21, GNA - Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, has submitted proposals to Cabinet to streamline the payment of judgment debt and settled claims.

He proposed that the Attorney-General might settle claims up to an upper limit of GH¢ 10 million without prior approval by Cabinet, and all claims above GH¢ 10 million should be submitted to Cabinet for approval prior to final settlement and payment.

Ghana News Agency (GNA) sources close to Cabinet said Dr Kunbuor in addition, proposed that the Attorney General should be required to submit to Cabinet monthly or quarterly reports on all judgment debts and settled claims submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning should submit to Cabinet monthly or quarterly reports on all judgment debts and settled claims received and paid.

Over the past months, issues have cropped up in the media and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament with regard to the huge judgment debt captured in the reports of the Auditor- General on the accounts of Central Government.

Questions have been raised with respect to whether Cabinet had approved the settled claims prior to payment, whether it was necessary for Cabinet to have approved those sums before payment was effected, or even before the Attorney-General advised the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning to authorise payment.

The source said Dr Kunbuor invited colleague Cabinet Ministers to consider the proposals and make recommendations on the thresholds for the settlement of cases and claims for compensation in the Attorney General's Department.

Dr Kunbuor indicated that judgment debt had been increasing over the years and had assumed significant importance for government payments.

It was, however, not clear whether during the period of 2009 to 2011, Cabinet played a role or should have played a role with regard to the quantum of the amounts settled or whether a case should be settled at all.

Under the 1992 Constitution, the Attorney General shall be the principal legal advisor to the Government and is responsible for the initiation and conduct of all civil cases on behalf of the State, and all civil cases against the State shall be instituted against the Attorney General as defendant.

Consequently, the Attorney General has the mandate, in the conduct of civil cases, to prosecute or defend cases for and behalf of Government, to defend cases to their final conclusion, and to decide whether or not to appeal against the judgment of the court up to the Supreme Court.

Similarly, the Attorney General has the mandate to settle civil cases as well as claims for compensation which emanate from the actions and inactions of public officials.

GNA

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