Accra, July 8, GNA - Over 15 billion cedis was recovered in respect of unearned salaries and pensions as a result of payroll audits carried out by the Ghana Audit Service in 2003, Mr Kwadwo Akowuah, Deputy Auditor-General in-charge of Central Government's Accounts, said on Friday.
"Our audit of the public accounts for the financial year of 2003 for Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) also disclosed that financial impact involving errors, lapses and irregularities amounted to 243.44 billion cedis, he said."
Mr Akowuah disclosed this when he presented a paper on "Promoting Better Public Sectoral Financial Accountability and Performance" to mark the Institute of Accountancy Training and Public Accountants Week in Accra.
He said accountability and financial discipline deserved special attention in order to promote good governance.
"Government must fully account for its stewardship and owes the citizens the responsibility of providing meaningful information on how well it has managed public resources."
He said the promulgation of new laws such as Parliamentary Act (Act 663), Internal Audit Agency Act (Act 658), Financial Administration Act (Act 654) and Financial Administration Regulation 2004 (LI 1802) would provide the strong legal framework for good governance and strengthen public sector management system and accountability.
"We are hoping that when the Internal Audit Agency becomes fully operational, Internal Auditors in the public sector would be assisted to develop the required capacity to evaluate the effectiveness of control systems and monitor control systems."
Mr Akowuah said, while recognising Government efforts in addressing the problems in public financial management and accountability through the passage of good laws, the key to promoting good financial management and accountability solely relied on good ethical behaviour of the entire citizenry.
"Organizations do not commit fraud, people do; therefore everything must be done to deter people in this situation.
"Where there is transparency and effective auditing, fraud cannot prevail in that environment which is characterised by strong and effective controls."
He expressed the worry of the Audit Service for Parliament's inability to timely audit reports to hold Government accountable. Mr Akowuah said paucity of funding for the Audit Service was therefore prejudicial to good governance. He said to enable the Auditor-General to contribute effectively to accountability, the Audit Service should be adequately resourced to do the job.
"The time has come for the Auditor-General to have autonomous budget to have a free hand to operate," he said. Mr Akowoah said no major progress had been made by Controller and Accountant General's Department in improving the timeliness of accounts submission, therefore underpinning the accountability of government due to logistics and staff constraints.
This had resulted in the delay in submission of the accounts, certification presentation to Parliament in accordance with the June 30 deadline.
Mr Akowuah said concerted action should be taken by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Controller an Accountant-General to professionalize the finance function of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He called on the Government to establish and publicise holistic national performance indicators to measure nationwide socio-economic progress.
Mr Akowuah called on Ghanaians to join the crusade against corruption and ensure that established internal controls were followed and applied. 08 June 05