Martin Kpebu, a private legal practitioner, has called on the government to surcharge public officials whose negligence results in the country paying judgment debts.
“Although the government cannot prevent judgment debt as long as it operates, some public officials have to be held accountable if they are found to cause financial loss to the state,” noted.
According to him, there were some issues governments cannot prevent as long as government runs and there would be judgment debts but some errant public officers may cause judgment debt and “if the government finds out it is the fault of certain public officers, they must be surcharged.
This comes after the Ministry of Finance revealed the government had paid in total, an amount of GH¢125 million as judgment debt since 2017 but the highest judgment debt was paid in 2018 while an amount of GH¢30.9 million was paid to Jubilee Tractors and Assembly Plant Limited.
It arose from a case filed against the National Security Council. In 2017, an amount of GH¢29.5 million was paid to NDK Financial Services and the government between 2017 and 2020 paid GH¢120million of GH¢125million in total judgment debt and so far, GH¢2.8 million in judgment debt has been paid by the government in the year 2022.
Mr Kpebu suggested that “perhaps we should open the debate again on some of the judgment debts specifically to know how they were caused, so that we will know if efforts should be made to surcharge the public officers involved which the law allows and the critical action should be given a lot of attention to serve as notice to other public officers to sit up to avoid causing the state financial loss.
Dr Theresa Mannah-Blankson, Fellow in charge of Finance and Economy Pillar at the Center for Social Justice, urged the government to establish a database that provided public information on judgment debts to restore faith in governance saying “we need to have a database indicating judgment debt that is issued, what is paid and what is outstanding and should be made public”.