Ghana’s former Ambassador to Israel, Hannah Nyarko, has been ordered to refund US$13,619 to the State for spending without approval.
She was said to have spent the money on Ghana’s 62 independence anniversary in 2019 beyond the US$15,000 limit the ministry approved.
This was made known in Accra yesterday when officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration made an appearance before the Public Accounts Committee to respond to audit queries contained in the 2020 audit report of the Auditor-General.
“We observed that the Mission incurred a total amount of US$28,618.75 on the celebration of Ghana’s 62nd Independence Anniversary without approval from the Ministry.
“We further observed that a retrospective approval was given to disburse funds not exceeding US$15,000.00 to celebrate the Independence Day. This occasioned an over expenditure of US$13,618.75 for the activity.
“We recommended to the Ministry to ensure the immediate recovery of US$13,618.75 from the Head of Mission, H. E. Hannah Nyarko,” the Auditor-General stated in his report.
The Chief Director of the Ministry, Ambassador Ramses Joseph Cleland, however, told the committee that retrospective approvals for the missions were usual and that same was not peculiar to the Tel Aviv mission.
He explained that mostly in January, a circular goes out to some missions to cover the independence celebration.
“When it goes out, it doesn’t cover all missions so some missions later write that they have special circumstances for which they should have been included,” he narrated.
“Because of the ‘busy nature’ of the ministry, missions go ahead to spend for which retrospective approval is given”, he said
The auditors, he said, may probably be looking at the original list after which a case was made by the Tel Aviv mission.
But the Committee Chair, James Klutse Avedzi, suspected that the approval was only given in March 2022 to satisfy concerns contained in the audit report which was published in June 2021.
“We will not accept the approval. We won’t accept it. It is because of the audit report that you quickly went to give that approval. Her Excellency Hannah Nyarko should refund the US$13,619.
“We can’t take that. If we do, we are encouraging you to be giving retrospective approvals. Three good years after the [expenditure was incurred]
“This report was issued on June 30, 2020 then you quickly went to arrange for the approval to be given to cover up. No we can’t accept that.
“The embassies must learn how to receive approval before they spend just like the ministry does through parliament. You don’t just spend anyhow and come and ask the ministry for approval.
“So Her Excellency Hannah Nyarko should refund the US$13,619.”
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI