The Auditor-General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo, has indicted the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for breaching the object of the fund resulting in unqualified applicants benefiting from the fund.
Section 2(2b) of the GETFund Act, 2000 (Act 581), provides that the fund provided supplementary funding to the Scholarship Secretariat for granting of scholarships to gifted but needy students to study in second cycle and accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana.
“GETFund Secretariat breached the object of the fund and administered the scholarship themselves, and illegally funded foreign scholarships thus, acting outside their mandate,” the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the Administration of Scholarships by GETFund Secretariat between 2012 to 2018 said.
According to the report, a copy of which has been submitted to Parliament in accordance with Article 187(5) of the 1992 Constitution, GETFund “discontinued scholarship funding to the Scholarship Secretariat contrary to Section 2(2b) of Act 581 and administered scholarships on its own.”
In administering the scholarships, the report said GETFund Secretariat did not establish any systems, policies and procedures to ensure the economic, efficient and effective use of public funds.
“The GETFund administrator, at his discretion, made all decisions on who to award scholarships, leading to the imprudent administration of scholarships from 2012 to 2018.”
With a Board of Trustees in place to oversee the operations of GETFund Secretariat, the Auditor-General’s report said it was expected that, the board would restrain the administrator (2012-2016) when he or she was going overboard under its watch.
“GETFund failed to establish a robust selection process to ensure the scholarships were granted to gifted but needy Ghanaians. The selection process for scholarship award by GETFund Secretariat was non-structured, unfair, dominated by one person and porous. This allowed unqualified applicants to benefit rather than brilliant but needy Ghanaians as contemplated by Act 581,” the report said.
The report noted that though the GETFund Board continuously discussed the way the scholarship budget was being over-spent and the need to streamline the spending on scholarship awards it “failed to act on its decisions. GETFund Secretariat through its actions wasted public funds entrusted to its care.
“GETFund Secretariat did not institute measures to ensure scholarship expenditures stayed within scholarship budgets. The GETFund Secretariat exceeded scholarship allocation amount by 300 per cent from 2012 to 2014 and over 100 per cent in 2015, 2016 and 2018; whilst in 2017, it exceeded its budgetary allocation amount by 60.98 per cent,” the report added.
For not instituting controls to secure the efficient and effective disbursement of public funds, the Auditor-General’s report said the breaches resulted in the payment of GH¢1,895,238.31 for course extensions, change of schools and cost of deferrals which could have been minimised.
In his recommendations, Mr Domelevo urged the GETFund to abide by the GETFund Act especially Section 2(2b) and give funds to Scholarships Secretariat for the administration of local scholarships and desist from administering foreign scholarships.
The GETFund must “stop administering local scholarships as their continuous engagement in administration of local scholarship constitutes duplication of duties and clearly not a mandate of GETFund.
“For the secretariat to be more prudent in its spending on scholarships we recommended that the Board of Trustees should effectively exercise its oversight on the administrator to prevent the wanton spending of public funds.”
The Auditor General, the report threatened, may disallow the expenditures by GETFund Secretariat in the management of foreign scholarships which he deems were contrary to law and surcharge the persons involved.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI