PAC grills GHEL, NBSSI over Auditor – General’s report
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament was yesterday compelled to give a month’s ultimatum to two state institutions to furnish the Committee with further information about their infractions.
This was when the Ghana Heavy Equipment Limited (GHEL) and the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) all under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, failed to convince the committee of the corrective measures recommended by the Auditor-General.
While GHEL was asked to contact its former Chief Executive Officer, to provide answers to payments made without supporting vouchers up to a tune of GH¢64,699.04 and an amount of GH¢465,000 listed as promotional expenses, in the NBSSI, was asked to as a matter of urgency take stock of its physical (landed) assets.
The directive was issued by the Chairman, James Avedzi at yesterday’s sittings by the PAC to quiz public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions on their adherence to recommendation by Auditor-General in its 2016 audit report.
Some of the institutions which appeared before it were Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), NBSSI, GHEL, Pharmacy Council, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, among others.
Mr Yaw Ntow Ababio, the CEO of GHEL told the committee about current financial challenges facing the company, which is the offshoot of the defunct Ghana National Trading Corporation (GNTC), the financial burden had incapacitated the operations, which had made it difficult to pay back a $2million loans granted it between 2011 to 2012.
He said that, the company had written a proposal to the government, the sole shareholder to convert the loan into equity shares to the company, to have a new lease of life as it continued to look for an investor.
The Chairman of PAC said that if the company was having challenges with finances and yet continue to incur further losses through heavy wage bill, then it would be better if the staff strength was pruned down
The chairman than asked the company to contact the former CEO to make available all the payments without vouchers in order to reconcile the books.
In the case of NBSSI, there was a case of poor management of assets which the Auditor-General recommended that steps be taken to rectify the situation.
The report stated clearly that six plots of land bought from State Insurance Corporation (SIC) in 1998 around Chapel Hill at Takoradi in the Western Region did not exist, making the chairman give the directive of reassessing their properties within a month.
Both FDA and Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons due to their improved Internal Generated Fund said plans were far advanced to wean them off government subvention, which the chairman said would be to fast- in their recommendation to the House.
COCOBOD was queried as to why its administrative cost increased at a time the Board was facing financial challenges.
However, the CEO said recruitment of staff, payment of utilities and other allied factors contributed to the increase.
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI