Vice-president Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has accused the previous government of failing to disclose expenditures amounting to GH¢7 billion from the state’s coffers between 2014 and 2016.
According to the Veep, the current administration discovered the “hidden data” while it was preparing the 2017 budget statement which was expected to be presented to Parliament next month.
“In preparing for this year’s budget, we have been surprised by the fiscal data. As we interrogated the data to see exactly why our public finances are in the state they are, we found out that there are about GH¢7 billion of expenditures that has not been disclosed”
“These come from 2014, 2015, and 2016. Where have they been hiding this data all these years? And how are we supposed to manage the economy with faulty data? This can throw our entire budget into disarray and this is the reality,” he said.
Speaking at a forum on good corporate governance initiative organised by Action Chapel International in Accra yesterday, Dr. Bawumia said although the current government had been in office for less than a month, it had began taking steps to restore accountability and integrity in governance.
Also, he said the government was compiling the list of persons captured in the Auditor-General’s (AG) reports for stealing or fraudulently acquiring state funds and indicated that those unscrupulous persons would be hunted and brought to justice.
He said the AG had discovered that billions of Ghana cedis belonging to the state had been stolen from the state’s coffers and expressed the country’s commitment to recover those funds.
Touching on the brouhaha surrounding the accommodation for the vice-president, Dr. Bawumia revealed that the previous government spent a colossal of US$14 million to construct a residence for the vice-president and indicated that the project, which did not go through competitive tendering, was currently under construction.
“What sort of a house is this supposed to be? Is the gate made of gold? How many boreholes could we have done? And there it stands, uncompleted at the moment,” he said.
Dr. Bawumia said there were a number of such contracts which the state entered into without getting value for money and stressed the need to make such exercises very transparent.
“I think it makes sense. We have to make these contracts public so that everybody will know who is bidding. It will help us and help emphasise the issue of value for money,” he said.
The Vice-President hinted that very soon, he would make an unannounced visit to the Public Procurement Agency to acquaint himself with the challenges confronting the agency.
As part of the measures to address corruption and financial improprieties in the public system, he said the government would amend relevant sections in the Criminal Offences Act 1960, (Act 29) to make corruption a felony, not a misdemeanor.
In addition, he said the Office of Special Prosecutor which would be established by the government would be empowered to bring all public office holders, including politicians, who flouted the law, to justice.
Dr. Bawumia gave the assurance that the Right to Information (RTI) Bill would be passed into law by the current government and expressed his personal commitment to push for the bill to be passed within the first 100 days of the current government.
The American Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, in an address reiterated the commitment of his country to support reforms and policies geared towards eradicating corruption from the Ghana’s public sector.
Corruption, he observed, was one of the main challenges to the development of any nation and for an aggressive action to deal with the canker and ensure a corruption-free society.
By Yaw Kyei and Claude Nyarko Adams