The Member of Parliament for South Dayi and member of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Rockson Dafeamekpor, has called for the Auditor General’s Office to be given the legal powers to prosecute public officials who misappropriate public funds.
He said it was not sufficient to only surcharge such officials implicated in audit reports leaving the criminal aspect unattended to, adding that it was not deterrent enough.
Mr Rockson Dafeamekpor made the call in an interview with the Ghanaian Times in Ho at the five-day public hearing to consider three Auditor-General’s Reports referred to the committee to interrogate.
According to him, since the Auditor’s General office knew that it had no final powers to prosecute, it would only continue to be making recommendations for Parliament to consider.
He said for example if someone misappropriated public funds to the tune of about GH¢300 million and the person was only surcharged, it was not deterrent enough, thus encouraging the one to engage in it again.
Mr Dafeamekpor was of the view that the Auditor’s General office as the creation of the constitution could also be given the prosecutorial powers under Article 88 of the Constitution, as done for other statutory bodies like the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Electricity Company of Ghana, given the powers to prosecute power theft,Ghana Revenue Authority to punish tax invasion and SSNIT to also prosecute pension fraud.
“That is why there is an outcry amongst the generality of the people that infractions as discovered by the Auditor General must be prosecuted,” he explained
Mr Dafeamekpor noted that the first day of their public hearing, Koforidua Technical and Ho Technical Universities were cited for procurement breaches and misappropriation of fund.
He said GH¢620,457 of students’ fees of Koforidua Technical could not be accounted for from 8 officers of the institution.
The officers involved were only surcharged and were still paying, adding
“so if the Auditor General is given the prosecutorial powers it will be more beneficial to the state.”
He recalled that the committee in its last hearing took some decisions by making referrals to the Attorney General’s office for certain infractions such as procurement breaches for purposes of prosecution.
“Since May this year we have written to AG’s office and we are in September 2022 we have not heard a response from the AG’s office,” he said.
FROM KAFUI GATI, HO