Guaranteeing the independence of Ghana’s Audit Service
Ghana's supreme audit institution, the Audit Service, is charged with the responsibility of promoting good governance in the areas of transparency, accountability and probity in the public financial management system.
The Service acts to protect the public purse by auditing the management of public resources and reporting to Parliament.
However, the independence of the Audit Service cannot be guaranteed in the current institutional arrangement where the President appoints the Auditor-General, observed the Audit Service Divisional Union of the Public Services Workers Union.
“To carry outs its role effectively, the Service needs to be financially, politically and administratively independent of Executive control. However, the Auditor-General is currently appointed by the President in consultation with the Council of State in contravention of the Lima Declaration,” said Samuel Teye Kofi Amoako, Chairman of the Union.
The Auditor-General, who currently reports to Parliament, must be appointed by Parliament through advertisement by Parliament, he opined.
Mr. Amoako also proposes a fixed term in office of ten years or retire at the age of 65 years, whichever comes earlier.
To guarantee the financial independence of the Audit Service, the Union has proposed that “just as the Ghana Revenue Authority is allowed to retain 3% of revenues collected for their administrative and other expenditure, 1.5% of all expenditure should be set aside as audit fees”.
The 4th Delegates Conference of the Audit Service Divisional Union has been held in Kumasi on the theme: “The Role of the State Auditor in National Development – Challenges of the Audit Service”.
Stakeholders at the conference noted that the challenges facing the Audit Service have the potential to undermine the effectiveness of government financial management if not addressed with the seriousness required.
Richard Amparbeng, General Secretary of the Public Services Workers Union, challenged assertions Ghana's public sector is unproductive.
He says public sector institutions are rather bleeding with corruption and financial malfeasance, hence the need to plug all leakages.
“The State Auditor needs a lot of resources and protection to do a good work. The Auditor should be given the latitude to do his work without interventions from influential people in society”.
Meanwhile, Auditor-General, Richard Quartey, says management is working to provide requisite resources and remuneration to improve staff efficiency and productivity.
Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh