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We must put searchlight on NGOs and CSOs to make them accountable – Dr Premper

The Minister of Education (MoE), Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has advocated for a legislation that would make non-governmental and civil society organisations become more accountable during implementation of their programmes and projects in the public sector.

He said such a regulatory framework was imperative due to the questionable operations of some of the non-governmental and civil society organisations  working especially in the education sector.

Dr Prempeh was responding to infractions captured in the Auditor-Generals report for 2016, which had come under review of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) scrutiny in Parliament recently.

This was when the sector ministry and the Ghana Education Service (GES) yesterday took their turn before the PAC to answer questions with regard to their sector in the report.

Many departments and agencies such as the National Inspectorate Board, GES Teacher Education Division, the Model Nursery School, Computer School Selection Placement Secretariat together with Regional and District Education Directorates were on hand to answer queries from the PAC.

 It was with Regional Education Directorate office of Greater Accra that the report cited malfeasance of NGOs and CSOs with emphasis on Christian Council of Ghana for an infraction involving a fund from United Nations Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF)  Ghana  Office, which was meant to be distributed to  some senior high schools in the Greater Accra Region.

According to the report, the Christian Council failed to reconcile the receipt of the funds with regards to its disbursement which left the balance sheet of the disbursement incomplete and unsatisfactory.

Dr Prempeh in his explanation on the issue, told the committee that the situation was no different from what the ministry had been facing from most of the NGOs and CSOs.

He said some of them refuse to account for the funds meant for disbursement and often show traits of not explaining how monies received from donors had been utilised.

Dr Prempeh said the ministry, under such circumstances had its ‘hands tied’ as they were not privy to the contents of the proposals which were used to solicit for the funds, adding, that the ministry had on many occasions, been used as a conduit to receive the monies.

He pointed out that any time such monies were received in the accounts of the ministry, ‘the NGOs come demanding for the funds only to disburse them without any supervisory role from the ministry.’

Dr Prempeh added that since the donors did not complain, the ministry thought it wise to keep quiet over the issue of accountability.

The minister said what usually happened was that, these NGOs implement the projects and account to the donors without recourse to the ministry.

He said much of the situation could be remedied if the donors would insist that the beneficiaries of their projects and programmes should play a supervisory role over the NGOs of their choice.

Mr James Klutse Avedzi, the chairman of PAC, advised the Auditor-General to as a matter of urgency, critically begin to examine the operations of NGOs when dealing with Ministries, Agencies, and Departments (MDAs).

He said it was one of the measures to help sanitise the operations of NGOs in the public sector.

BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI

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