Chief Directors and other senior officials at the various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have been urged to strengthen supervision and internal control procedures to prevent financial irregularities in their operations.
The Auditor General, Mr Richard Q. Quartey, who made the appeal in the December 31, 2011, Financial Report on MDAs, also asked the officials to apply the necessary sanctions against offending officers and clients or organisations who defaulted in the settlement of their tax obligations.
The recommendation followed intense scrutiny of the financial transactions of MDAs by the Auditor-General which revealed that the country lost GH¢118.8 million as a result of irregularities in 2011.
Additionally, the state purse also shrunk by $246,744.24 and £136,084.22 owing to similar phenomenon.
The cataloguing of financial irregularities in the Auditor-General's Report on MDAs and other agencies has become an annual ritual that seems to have no effects because affected MDAs are not seen to be taking any effective action to address the basic problems of lack of monitoring and supervision and non-adherence to legislation put in place to provide effective financial management of public resources.
According to the Auditor-General's Report on MDAs, the breakdown of amount lost to the state for the year 2011 include, tax irregularities which amounted to GH¢52,807,322.72 and GH¢13,824.11, representing 44.22 per cent.
Cash irregularities, on the other hand, led to the loss of GH¢ 33,583,678.14 and $76,883.31 and £122,260.11 representing 28.43 per cent as a result of irregularities.
Outstanding loans amounted to GH¢5,602,153.84 and $73,306.18 which is 4.78 per cent. For Payroll, the amount lost was GH¢ 909,278.80 and $76,496.25, representing 0.86 per cent, while Stores/Procurement resulted in the loss of GH¢ 780,027.67, which is 0.65 per cent.
Failure by some MDAs to follow laid down procedure in the award of contracts also led to a loss of GH¢24,946,637.32, representing 20.88 per cent. Furthermore, the state incurred GH¢191,077.17 which accounted for 0.18 per cent as the MDAs neglected the deduction of the monthly rent from their staff salaries.
According to the Auditor-General, the incident of cash irregularities were rife in the ministries of Justice and Attorney General; GH¢16,375,045.05; Health, GH¢12,089,459.63; Education, GH¢ 2,621,482.63; MoFEP GH¢ 2,004,238.00; Employment and Social Welfare GH¢ 276,723.53; Youth and Sports GH¢ 237,864.70;
Defence, GH¢ 81,039.61 and other agencies GH¢ 84,758.12.
The report noted that most of the ' tax irregularities arose from poor supervision of schedule officers and failure to enforce tax laws and financial regulations, as well as failure by heads of MDAs to sanction offending staff.'
For stores and procurement, the Auditor-General raised issues related to anomalies in 'purchases not taken on ledger charge, contract variations, payments for uncompleted works and fuel coupons not properly accounted for.'
There was also 'failure to adhere to the Public Procurement Act, and Store Regulations.'
'Unauthorised expenditure, misappropriation of revenue/other receipts, failure by accounting officers to properly acquit payment vouchers or produce them for inspection and validation and imprests not accounted for were responsible for the cash irregularities.
Payroll irregularities involved mostly unearned salaries paid to separated staff, as well as irregularities in pension payments and the failure to ensure timely deletion of the names of separated persons.
'Outstanding loans continued to be an issue because often, loans were granted without specifying terms of recovery and responsible officials fail to monitor performance, while the beneficiaries also do not willfully ensure that the loans granted them are being recovered,' the report stated.
In 2011, the value of reported irregularities in contract administration was significantly higher as a result of contract management lapses that occurred particularly at the ministries of Health, Defence, Roads and Transport, Education and Employment and Social Welfare, the report further stated.
By Naa Lamiley Bentil & Seth J. Bokpe