The payment of the salaries of staff of the Ghana Education Service (GES) will be suspended from December 15,2004, if the GES fails to comply with the Auditor-General's ultimatum to delete a total of 844 ghost names from its payroll and submit returns.
The Auditor General's Department has extended the 14-day ultimatum to the GES to expunge the ghost names, following requests from officials of the GES that they were unable to immediately submit the exact dates on which the affected workers left the service and the date on which their names were deleted from the payroll.
Graphic investigations revealed that officials of the Auditor-General's Department and the GES had met at a meeting this week to deliberate on the issue. Sources close to the Auditor-General's Department stated that the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) had also requested for time to enable it to reconcile its figures to be able to refund ¢2.208 billion, which was paid on behalf of non-existent workers.
The department had ordered SSNIT to refund the said amount, which was paid to it by the Controller and Accountant-General's Department.The ultimatum, which also affected the Ministry of Health (MOH),was as a result of the persistent failure of the GES and MOH to delete names of separated staff to enable the Auditor-General's Department to compile the amount of unearned salaries paid to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The MOH has up to November 25, 2004, to submit the returns on a total of 225 ghost names deleted from its payroll. The ultimatum, which was contained in a report on extracts of findings from the nationwide payroll audit undertaken between December 2001 and March 2002 and signed by the Auditor-General,Mr Edward Dua-Agyeman, said in order to compel the GES and MOH to take action to delete the data on their separated staff, restoration of resurfaced separated employees on to their payrolls had been suspended”.
The nationwide audit was aimed at eliminating ghost workers from the Public Service payroll and institute measures to prevent the inclusion of ghost workers on the public service payroll.It revealed that a total of 844 ghost names were found in the GES payroll, the MOH had 225 ghost names, with other government bodies accounting for 227 more, constituting a total of 1,296.
It stated that a total of ¢6.137 billion was paid to the separated staff during the period.The report said it was also evident that most of the ghost names on the payrolls of the two bodies constituted teachers, doctors and nurses who had resigned their positions and left the country but were still being paid their monthly salaries.
The report further stated that the Auditor-General's Department opened unauthorised/ghost salaries account at the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in February 2002 into which recoveries of all unearned salaries/pension were deposited. “As of September 2004, an amount of over ¢15 billion, covering the periods of February 2002 to May 2003 and June 2004 to September 2004, had been deposited into the account”, the report said.
“Deposits for the period of June 2003 to May 2004 are yet to be determined and lodged in the account", the report continued.The Auditor-General's Department has set up a special payroll audit unit to monitor and audit government payroll each month as part of measures instituted to prevent the recurrence of the payment of unearned salaries/pensions, among others.