Adopt deterrent sanctions against financial irregularities

As an annual practice, the Auditor-General (A-G) has presented to Parliament its report for the 2021 financial year in line with Article 187(5) of the 1992 Republican Constitution.

In this report, the A-G has recorded financial irregularities by public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions amounting to GH¢17,483,483,539.

The amount is said to represent a 36 per cent increase of GH¢4,627,310,913 over the GH¢12,856,272,626 recorded in 2020. (See today’s lead story for details).

Even though the sources of the irregularities over the years somehow vary, the acts resulting in them keep recurring.

Some of these acts are non-compliance with  provisions of the Public Financial Management and  Public Procurement Authority Acts; lack of due diligence by public officials, which involve issues relating to cash, payroll, procurement, tax, stores and award of contracts.

It is sad to learn, for example, that in some cases there are no effective debt collection policies and credit controls to recover the debts; and that managements of some public organizations adopt indifferent posture towards loan recovery.

Besides, there are misapplication of funds, budget overruns, payments not authenticated and payments to board members without ministerial approvals.

What is most worrying is the fact that there are payments made for construction projects that have not been undertaken.

Why public officials perpetuate these irregularities must engage the keen attention of the powers that be who must take them to task and make the public aware of sanctions applied.

Occasionally, the media publish stories of some individuals and organisations cited for one irregularity or another.

However, looking at the trend and the magnitude of the irregularities, one would not be wrong to conclude that the cases published are just scapegoats and that the major culprits are shielded.

Does it mean there are grand plots to defraud the state because at the end of it all, there is some sharing which benefits those who should check and apply the sanctions?

Probably, it is also the case that the sanctions applied are deliberately made mild and so not deterrent enough?

In fact, the whole problem can be attributed to the dishonest and corrupt nature of the Ghanaian public official engendered by the lack of stringent checks and sanction systems.

Analysis of the irregularities cited annually by the A-G clearly shows that there are loopholes deliberately created in some laws and policies which public officials exploit to their advantage.

If that is not the case, why are they emboldened to persist in the irregularities without the slightest fear?

It cannot be disputed that public officials have no sense of patriotism or the love to ensure the forward-march of the country for every citizen to reap some benefit(s).

There is, therefore, the need for Parliament to demonstrate special care in checking corruption in all state institutions by reviewing all laws and plugging the loopholes with repeals which can also ensure sanctions that are deterrent enough.

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