Monies going down the drain at MMDAs is sickening
For about three weeks now, officials of state institutions and their sector ministers have been appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to answer queries on infractions in Auditor-General’s reports.
While some have taken remedial actions in response to recommendations of the reports to escape the wrath of the committee, others have been referred to the Attorney-General for prosecution.
As it has been the case for many years, the Ghanaian Times has been providing comprehensive coverage of the siting and expressing our views on the misappropriation of public funds.
Today, we revisit the subject because our lead story has brought this issue to the fore again, and in line with our gatekeeping role, we cannot let it pass without comment.
The story is that 21 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) paid a total of GH¢499,671.94 to various contractors for no work done between 2018 and 2021, according to the Auditor General (A-G).
For instance, Kintampo South paid GH¢57,925 for no work done to construct a school block and provide five boreholes, whilst Sene West District Assembly was short-changed by GH¢98,013.69 for a reduction in the size of a Community Health-based Planning Services (CHPS) compound.
According to the Consolidated Performance Audit Report of the A-G on capital projects of 30 selected MMDAs funded through the District Assemblies Common Fund – Response Factor Grant (DACF-RFG), these infractions were as a result of inadequate supervision.
The Coordinating Directors, Finance Officers and the Works Engineers at the MMDAs who recommended and approved the payments in violation of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) are to recover the money else they would refund it themselves.
Although the Ghanaian Times notes that the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development has promised to ensure the officials responsible recover the money, we are concerned that this malfeasance should not have happened in the first place.
In every project, people are put in charge of supervision to ensure that the work proceeds are planned and in line with best practices in order to meet the objective of the project.
It is, therefore, disheartening and sickening that some officials of the MMDAs who should have kept an eye on the projects rather looked on for nearly GH¢500, 000 to be paid to contractors for no work done.
In these times when resources are scarce, amidst growing need for social amenities at the local level, duty bearers are to live up to expectations to enable the country to make use of scarce resources.
Beyond the recovery of the funds, the Ghanaian Times recommends that officials should be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others and protect the public purse.
After many Auditor-General reports, we should get to a point where public officials are made accountable for their actions to save the country from losing the money which could be channelled into other projects.
Having noted that some officials put in charge lack certain skills, we add our voice to the AG’s recommendation that they are given the requisite training to make them effective.