Auditor General welcomes SC ruling; vows to retrieve loot
The Auditor General is excited about the Supreme Court ruling that reinforces his powers of disallowance and surcharge.
Mr Daniel Domelovo said the ruling that was given Wednesday morning brings clarity to provisions of the 1992 Constitution which for several years have not been enforced.
Article 187 (7) (b) of the 1992 Constitution states that in the performance of his functions under this Constitution or any other law the Auditor-General -
(a) Shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority;
(b) May disallow any item of expenditure which is contrary to law and surcharge.
However instead of surcharging and retrieving monies misappropriated by officials at the Ministries Department and Agencies, the Auditor General only documents cases of misappropriation and hand over the report to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC).
The country has for several years witnessed the PAC sittings in which details of the Auditor General’s Report have been made public. In many of these reports are jaw dropping cases of misappropriation of public funds. Yet when public servants involved in the looting are brought before the Committee the only form of punishment they get is a reprimand from the Chair and members of the Committee.
Unhappy with the wanton dissipation of public funds by Public Officers, pressure group Occupy Ghana proceeded to the Supreme Court with a suit asking the court to remind the Auditor General of his duties of surcharge and disallowance as stipulated by law and to ensure that all public officers found to have embezzled public funds are surcharged and prosecuted where necessary.
On Wednesday the court granted all the reliefs by Occupy Ghana and ordered the Auditor General to issue disallowance and surcharges in respect of all state monies found to have been expended contrary to law.
The second relief granted by the Court is that the Auditor-General must take steps to recover all amounts lost to the state, and this covers private persons.
The Attorney-General has also been ordered to ensure enforcement of the orders including criminal prosecution where necessary.
Member of Occupy Ghana Ace Ankomah has welcomed the decision by the court.
He told Joy News for once the power given to the Auditor General by the constitution but which has never been exercised will finally be exercised.
Ace Ankomah was hopeful the new Auditor General appointed in December 2016, as well as the Attorney General appointed in March 2017 will both execute the reliefs granted by the court.
When he was asked by Joy News to suggest the baseline year from which all misappropriated monies will be collected, Ace Ankomah said he will leave that entirely to the Auditor General to determine.
Mr Daniel Domelovo said his outfit has taken steps to begin surcharging corrupt public officers. He would not however state the baseline year.
According to him, six officials from the Auditor General’s office have already gone for training on how to gather evidence that will be admissible in court on the issue of surcharging.
“We have started implementing the constitutional provision,” he said.
He could not explain why his predecessors failed to execute the law of surcharge as spelt out in the constitution but said he will not renege on his obligations.
Story by Ghana|Myjoyonline.com|Nathan Gadugah