PAC In Stiches
PAC In Stiches Website
It was comic relief yesterday at the usually serious sitting of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament when a former Accounts Clerk of the Oti Banka Senior High Technical School, told the committee that he embezzled school fees to the tune of ¢2.8 million because the school owed him travel and transport (TNT) refund. "It is part of my TNT (money for transport) that the headmaster refused to pay me," said Lawrence Kornutsey, the Accounts Clerk, sending members of the committee as well as officials from the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Auditor-General’s office present, into prolonged laughter. The Auditor-General’s Report on the school, which is located at Dambai in the Volta Region, noted that Mr. Kornutsey misappropriated school fees amounting to about ¢2.8 million, due to ineffective supervisory controls. When the committee asked him to respond to the report after the "humourous interlude," Mr. Kornutsey, now with the Afadzato Senior High Technical School, also in the Volta Region said: "It [the money] was imprest which I took to travel to Dambai and Akatsi within a period of six to nine months." On why the headmaster refused to pay him the TNT, he said, he had wanted to leave the school because he had stayed there for seven years but could not tell why the money, which was a legitimate claim, was not paid to him. When the committee asked him whether he thought his behaviour was a fair practice, especially since he had some knowledge about accounting control, he conceded that it was not right but added that he had refunded the money and produced a receipt which indicated that refund of the amount was made in March, this year. Asked as to whether he had enough evidence on record since he took the money without authorisation, Mr Kornutsey, replied in the affirmative but added that he had misplaced the document. Still on the Volta Region, the audit report said due to negligence on the part of the management of the St. Mary’s Seminary School at Lolobi, the name of a Reverend Father who had left the seminary since September 2001, continued to appear on the school’s payroll until June 2005, resulting in the payment of unearned salaries totalling ¢46.7 million. When invited to answer questions pertaining to the school, the regional director of education, the Reverend Samuel Affainie Amankwa, told the committee that the Reverend Father had travelled abroad. His accounts could also not be traced to ascertain whether somebody was withdrawing money from it, Rev Amankwa said, and added that he wrote to the Rev. Minister about the payment of the unearned salaries but had not received any reply. He said since it was the church that posted the Rev. Father to the school, it was the church that was held responsible for the money which had been paid unduly. At the time of going to press, the Amasaman Senior High/Technical School, Accra Technical Training Centre and the Labone Senior High School, were scheduled to answer various queries by the committee. Meanwhile, the Committee at its setting on Tuesday, ordered a former Headmistress of the Mfantseman Girls School at Saltpond, to pay ¢92 million for allegedly inflating the prices of raw tuna purchased for the school between January 2002 and November 2003. Mrs. Elizabeth Afedua Croffie, now a pensioner, is to pay the money from her pension "for violating the laws of the land." The report, read by Samuel Sallas-Mensah, chairman of the committee, stated that an audit conducted in the school between January 2002 to November 2003, showed that ¢288,300,000 was spent on the purchases of fresh tuna at the unit cost of between ¢8 million and ¢10 million per tonne. However, a market survey conducted by the Ghana Education Service (GES) revealed that during the same period, the unit cost per tonne of fresh tuna was at ¢5 million. "The school, therefore, lost an estimated amount of ¢119.8 million through over-invoicing due to failure to invite quotations from different sources as required by section 43 (i) of the Public Procurement Act," the committee said. J.M. Quao, Director of Internal Audit at the GES, told the committee that the survey of prices of tuna was conducted in the Central Region and schools in the region were asked to produce copies of receipts they obtained for the purchase of the raw tuna. He said the prices indicated on the receipts submitted were lower than that of the Mfantseman School. Mrs. Croffie, who was at the sitting at the invitation of the committee, insisted that she did not inflate the prices, saying that the tuna she bought was of high quality, and purchased at Tema while the other schools bought theirs from a supplier. She told the committee that she expected the auditors to check the market prices of the tuna at Tema where she had bought it, but instead, they went to three schools in the Central Region that purchased their tuna from the same supplier.