A former Headmistress of Mpohor Senior High School in the Western Region, Mrs Alberta Crossie Quayson, on Tuesday, challenged the Auditor-General’s report which prescribed she is sanctioned for the payment of GH¢38,492.00, representing sale of school materials.
She claimed the said amount, was used for emergencies and other expenses and could provide honourary receipts for verification.
Mrs Quayson, now headmistress of Axim Girls Catholic Senior High School, made the claims on Tuesday, at the second day of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sitting in Takoradi to consider the AG‘s report on pre-university educational institutions for the financial year which ended December 31, 2019.
The report noted that the storekeeper, Mrs Georgina Van-Ess sold school vests, track suits, lacoste ‘T’ shirts and khaki trousers worth GH¢38,492 to students of Mpohor Senior High and gave the proceeds to Mrs Quayson.
However, she could not account for the amount in violation of section 46 of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act, 2016, Act 921.
It, therefore, recommended that Mrs Quayson should be made to refund the said amount to the school and be sanctioned as required under the law.
The AG’s report mentioned that Mrs Quayson collected unapproved sanitation fees of GH¢15.00 per semester from 1,085 students amounting to GH¢32,550, which were not accounted for, adding that, the said money was directly paid to the former headmistress and did not keep any records in school books of accounts.
“The headmistress’ disregard to policies and directives from the Ministry of Education on fee paying caused the irregularities. She, therefore, misappropriated school funds of GH¢32,550 and should be sanctioned as required by the PFM Act.
Testifying, Mrs Quayson told the PAC “I didn’t collect any money, Mr Chairman, I don’t know what is happening. It’s terrible. The bursar concocted and engineered all the allegations.”
She argued that, when she got to the school there were huge debts and so the GH¢38,492 became an Internal Generated Fund (IGF) used for emergencies including purchase of gas and transportation of students to Takoradi for medical care.
That money, she explained, was sent to the bank for use by the school.
Asked by PAC Chairman, Dr James Klutse Avedzi, about the legal basis of the transactions, Mrs Quayson, however, could not justify it.
Dr Avedzi replied that Mrs Quayson could have written a letter to the Regional Director or the Regional Accountant for an advice on the transactions.
“You presented the documents after auditing, then you are telling lies and not speaking the truth. Did you give the document on the day of auditing, you are changing the answers,” he noted,
He stressed “This is enough to show you infringed upon the law. How did the auditor know the money was given to you? We’ll flag this side of the story and wait for the District Auditor, so clerk takes note.”
Continuing, Mrs Quayson said, she wrote to the Regional Director of Education that the bursar should be changed, saying that “it was the parents association which used the GH¢32,550.”
She stressed “This was a parent’s association levy. I did not collect the amount, and there is evidence that the PTA collected the money.”
Contributing to the enquiry, Deputy Minister of Education, Gifty Twum Ampofo, told the Committee that, with the introduction of Free SHS policy, Parents-Teacher Associations (PTAs)were replaced with parents association which exacted and collected fees during their meetings.
She said, “The parents themselves agree on what they want to do for the school, and what money they collect and what to use for. The school authorities do not play any role inthe collection of the fees.”
“So as of now, there’s no guideline on how the parent association collect money from the parent and how to spend it.We just assume that this is a private business and has nothing to do with government or the ministry,” Dr Avedzi replied.
A member of the committee submitted “I believe there is relations issue, partners were not on good term, and the bursar must come so that we get both sides of the matter.”
FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, TAKORADI