PAC cautions institutions, accountants to ensure financial discipline

The Chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Dr James Avedzi, has cautioned heads of institutions and accountants, to be diligent and ensure strong financial discipline during their tenure.

This, he said, would help them avoid questions even after retirement, saying “we want all serving officers not to go in for loans without the approval of the necessary authorities. Retirement can’t save them.”

DrAvedzigave the warning on Monday, when the committee discussed infractions captured in 2019   Auditor-General’s report, which cited Ola College of Education for contracting a loan without prior approval from relevant authorities.

But, when the new Principal, Dr Mrs Regina Okyere-Dankwa and her team appeared before the PAC sitting, they reported that the Principal and accountant had retired.

She told the committee that, she invited the former Principal to accompany them to the Takoradi sitting to explain the issues, but, he did not report.

The Auditor-General report found that the former Principal of Ola College of Education, contracted a loan of GH¢250, 000 with an interest of GH¢300,000 from Akatakyiman Rural Bank to renovate the college’s chapel.

This was without the required approval from neither the College Council, Director General of Ghana Education Service (GES), Ministry of Education nor the Minister of Finance.

The report noted that, the Principal was unable to provide any agreement on the loan with the bank.

However, the audit further disclosed that a total amount of GH¢206,249.94 from a monthly installment of GH¢11,458.94, had so far been repaid, and that the Principal indicated that students were billed to finance the loan, resulting in overburdening the students and guardians.

“We recommend that the Principal and the accountant should desist from the practice and always seek approval from the appropriate authorities before loans are contracted. We further recommend that the two officers should be duly sanctioned for non-compliance of the Act,” the report added.

Meanwhile, on cash irregularities, the college raised 27 Payment Vouchers (PVs) totalling GH¢1,378,505.55, the AG report cited, noting that, this was due to poor supervision by management and laxity of the accountant.

These undermined transparency and accountability, it said, indicating that the transactions did not provide reasonable assurance that the funds were used in the interest of the school.

It, therefore, recommended that the Principal and accountant should refund the amount to the school.

Also, 11 staff of the college had defaulted in repayment of salary advance totalling GH¢24,539, the AG report revealed, noting that the delay in payments was due the inability of the accountants of the college to put in appropriate measures to recover same.

“Non recovery of advances could deny other staff from benefitting from the facility. Werecommend that management should recover the amount from the staff concerned and further institute measures to strengthen rate of recovery of advances.

“We similarly noted that the Economic and Organised Crime Unit  in Cape Coast recovered staff advances owed OLA College of Education amounting to GH¢8,645, but, did not refund the money to the college, but, kept in its accounts,” the report said.

It stated that Ola college of Education was also flagged for breaching the procurement Act by engaging in anon-competitive bidding contrary to section 20 of the Public Procurement Act (Amened) 2016 (Act 914) involving 27 PVs amounting GH¢407, 547.

FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, TAKORADI

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