Auditor-General Demands Explanation From Accountant General
Auditor-General Demands Explanation From Accountant General Website
THE Auditor-General, Mr Edward Dua Agyeman, is demanding explanations from the Controller and Accountant-General on the double payment of GHc4 million made to some public officers on the government payroll in January, 2008. In a letter dated February 22, 2008, which was addressed to the Controller and Accountant-General, Mr Christian Tetteh Sottie, the Auditor-General demanded explanation on the matter within 30 days. The Auditor-General wants to know from the Controller and Accoun¬tant-General whether test runs were made and pre-lists issued to all organisations served by IPPD 2 for confir¬mation before the final run of the monthly payroll was made. Furthermore, Mr Agyeman is demanding explanation on whether exception reports were generated and investigated in instances where mismatched names, offices and manage¬ment units against standing payroll data or master file occurred. For example the appearance of Judicial Service staff on the payroll of the Ghana Education Service. The Auditor-General also wants to know whether the banks were told to withhold the duplicated arrears from the personal accounts of the affected public officers and how the recoveries involved have been accounted for if the double payment had come to the notice of the Controller and Accountant-General's Department (CAGD) before the pay¬101 for January 2008 was finally processed. "1 shall be very grateful for expla¬nations from your department on the following as soon as possible, but in any case, not exceeding 30 days following the receipt of this letter as required by section 29 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584)," stated the letter, which was copied to 13 min¬istries and government institutions. When contacted, Mr Sottic, who was in the company of his deputy in charge of Finance and Administration, Mr Abraham T. Mantey, said he had not received any such letter from the Auditor-General although he admitted seeing a copy of the letter in circulation elsewhere. He described as very strange the fact that he (the addressee) had not received the letter from the Auditor-General, who was a next-door neighbour, but copies had been circulated to other institutions. However, the Auditor-General said the assertion made by Mr Sottie could not be true considering a reference to the letters dispatch registry at his (AG's) office, which indicated that the letter was sent to Mr Sottie's office on February 26, 2008, and an officer in the office initialled "EAQ" in the AG's letter dispatch registry as having received it. The controversy over the receipt of the letter notwithstanding, Mr Sottie dismissed the issues raised by the Auditor-General as baseless because the error was detected by the CAGD, which had already taken steps to rec¬tify it long before Mr Agyeman had cause t write the letter. In January 2008, the CAGD made double payment of more than GHc 4 million to 19,193 officers of the GES, two Members of the Council of State, 11 officers of the Audit Service and a few others whose places of employ¬ment were not identified. The Auditor-General said his demand for explanations on the dou¬ble payment was informed by an observation that the CAGD had departed from certain laid down pro¬cedures, which helped to prevent such lapses. He made reference to a letter writ¬ten to him by the Controller and Accountant-General on October 1, 2007, which indicated that the CAGD had taken over the pre-auditing of all Cap 30 pension payment documents, and asked the Auditor-General to operate within his statutory functions prescribed in the Constitution and the Audit Service Act. That meant the Audit Service could only carry out post audits after the CAGD had made the payments. Mr Agyeman said in his response to the Controller and Accountant-General in a letter dated December 21,2007, he strongly objected to the "new unilateral agreements" made by the Controller without any discussion with him (Auditor-General), pointing out that payment of Cap 30 pension was wholly managed by the CAGD with the Audit Service playing onlv a certification role. “Even with this arrangement, very serious anomalies existed in the processing, computing, certification and payment of benefits resulting in huge loss of funds to the state," he noted. Mr Agyeman cited instances where the CAGD computed pensions of more than GHc15,230 for one Victoria A. Deku of .the GES although she did not qualify for Cap 30. In another instance, a gratuity of more than GHc8, 554 was computed for one Arthur Williamson also of the GES although he was not on a pensionable grade. "From these examples, it will be inappro¬priate and imprudent for only the staff of the Controller and Accountant-General's Depart¬ment to be responsible for computing, certifying and payment of all Cap 30 benefits. Checks and balances will be completely nonexistent," he remarked. Mr Agyeman said unfortunately, the Controller and Accountant-General did not adhere to the caution and "in January, there were double payments of salary arrears to some staff on the government payroll". Responding to some of the issues raised by the Auditor-General, Mr Sottie said under the Constitution and the Audit Service Act, the Auditor-General was responsible for post auditing only, adding that there were internal auditors who carried out pre-auditing functions. He said there would be a conflict of interest if the Auditor-General performed both pre-auditing and post-auditing functions. On the issue of whether the bank were informed to withhold the duplicated arrears from the personal accounts of the public officer in question, Mr. Sottie said that could not be possible once the payment was made and the officers had already accessed the money. He, however, explained that measures had been put in place to retrieve the duplicated payments, adding that the first deductions were made in February. Giving further explanation on the subject, Mr Mantey said 50 per cent of the duplicated payment would be deducted from the salaries of the affected workers over a period of two months but in instances where the deduction was more than 50 per cent of the salary of affected officer(s), it would be spread over a period of three months.