Ghana’s Auditor-General Daniel Domelevo has questioned an amount of GHC33, 283.40 expenses incurred by the Bono Regional Minister in foreign travels, including trips to South Africa and Canada.
Evelyn Ama Kumi-Richardson, who was the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Sunyani Municipal Assembly, was paid the said amount to make both trips between March and June 2018.
An audit report addressed to the Speaker of Parliament, however, revealed that the former MCE’s letter to make the trip was rejected by the presidency on grounds of travel ban.
“Our review of records provided to us by management disclosed that the MCE’s letter No. SMA/FT/F26/VOL1/6 dated 18 June 2018 seeking permission to travel to Canada and South Africa was rejected by the Office of the President as per the Chief of Staff’s letter Number SCR/DB236/378/01/C dated 27 June 2018, on grounds that the President has placed a temporary ban on foreign travels by government appointees,” the report stated.
There were, however, no records confirming whether the former MCE undertook the trip to both countries.
The Minister appears to have violated Section 7(1) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) which stipulates that “a principal Spending Officer of a covered entity shall ensure the regularity and proper use of money appropriated in that covered entity”.
Describing the action as “unlawful” the report also recommended that the Regional Minister refunds the said amount into the Assembly’s coffers.
Meanwhile, Mr Domelevo has expressed worry that although the Auditor-General continued to cite public officials and state institutions for unpardonable infractions in the yearly reports, the perpetrators were left to enjoy the booty.
“It is mind-boggling that audit reports come year after year, citing people for causing financial loss to the state but they are still in their offices and move about in their nice cars and sleep in better houses. Nothing happens to them; not even administrative sanctions.
“There is the need for deterrence in the system because for any public financial management system in any part of the world to work well, there must be strong sanctions. People do businesses in this country and do not want to pay taxes and we tolerate it so they perpetuate it,” he said at a press conference in Accra.
He called on all citizens to rise up and demand from Parliament stiffer and deterrent laws to inflict severe sanctions on public officials who bruise state coffers with impunity.
By J. Ofori, Daily Mail GH