Accra, Jan. 14, GNA - Two officials of Ghana Education Service (GES) on Thursday said there was no longer any ghost name on the payroll of GES.
The denial followed an ultimatum the Auditor-General's Department gave them to delete ghost names from the GES payroll or be surcharged with billions of cedis allegedly lost to the State.
Speaking at a press conference in reaction to a publication that appeared in the January 11, 2005 edition of the "Daily Graphic", Mr Michael Nsowah, Acting Director General of GES, said the 169 names the Auditor-General Mr Edward Dua-Agyeman alleged that the GES had persistently refused to delete from the payroll was made up of the 147 active staff and 22 others, who were on leave.
"We would like to assure the Ghanaian public that with these facts, there are no 844 or 169 ghost names on the GES payroll." He said the GES was also working hard to ensure that when its staff retired, died or vacated their post their names were removed immediately from the payroll.
Mr Nsowah also accepted the request for the suspension of their salaries if that would resolve the controversy over the alleged 844 or 169 ghost names on GES payroll.
He said at the last meeting with the Auditor-General on December 22 2004 he requested for the current location of 147 members of staff whose names were restored onto the payroll under the authorisation of the Auditor-General himself.
The Acting Director General said the Auditor-General demanded that the current location of 22 members of staff, who were on leave at the time of the head count exercise, should also be provided.
He said on January 6, the GES handed over the report on the current locations of each of those staff to one Mr Atieko, the Officer in-Charge of Payroll Audit at the Auditor General's Office.
Mr Nsowah accompanied by Mr Charles Otoo, Financial Controller of GES, said to their surprise Mr Atieko claimed that that was not the information they had asked for but that they rather wanted the names deleted so that the affected staff members would come forward to explain where they were "hiding" when the head count exercise took place.
"We wish to state that the Auditor-General's Office has unlimited access to the computerised Payroll system to confirm the location of those staff and his field staff could check their existence" he said. The Auditor-General told the Ghana News Agency that his Office requested the GES to furnish it with the dates that 675 GES staffs left their post so that it could compute how much was paid to them before their names were eventually deleted from the payroll.
He explained that initially 844 GES staffs were not captured during the head count so their names were deleted from the payroll; however, the GES made representations to his Office and the names of 169 were restored.
The Auditor-General said the GES claimed that 147 of those whose names were deleted had been at post all the time but it just happened that they were not captured during the exercise while 22 of them were on study leave.
He said what his Office was demanding was that these officers should confirm with evidence that they were at post or on study leave and their present location.
The GNA was told that Mr Nsowah had travelled to Cape Coast and when Mr Otoo was contacted he said the Acting Director-General had met Regional Directors of Education and had asked them to provide the data requested by the Auditor-General by Tuesday 18 January 2005. 14 Jan. 05