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Finance Ministry reckless — IMANI

Imani

Mr Franklin Cudjoe (right), President, IMANI Ghana, interacting with Mr Andrew Ntim (middle

The Ministry of Finance mandated to handle the finances of the country, has been ranked the most fiscally reckless public institution.

Close at its heels are the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the Savanah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).

In an index of fiscally reckless ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), boards of public corporations, polytechnics and pre-university institutions studied between 2012 and 2014 by Imani, a think tank, the institutions were recognised as the six most reckless public institutions in Ghana.

The study was based on the Auditor General’s reports from 2012 to 2014.

The composite report analysed and ranked 19 MDAs,18 public boards and institutions under 18 ministries, and 10 polytechnics and pre-university educational institutions in all the 10 regions of Ghana in terms of their fiscal prudence.

A total of GH¢5, 940, 767, 187.09 or $1.6 billion was reported by the Auditor General as missing from the institutions in the years under review, an amount that IMANI says would “end Ghana’s perennial electricity poverty and free the country of all donor support regarding the delivery of good drinking water…”.

The study was undertaken in partnership with Oxfam as part of a “citizen’s demand for efficient public financial management” project.

Massive irregularities

Presenting the report in Accra, a lead Policy Analyst at Imani, Mr Kofi Boahen, said taxes, contracts, procurement and cash irregularities, including outstanding debts and loans, were the characteristic features of the management of the public institutions reviewed.

He said a flagrant disregard of the Financial Administration Act 2003 and the Financial Administration Regulations 2004 was also observed in the study.

For the Ministry of Finance, it was observed that it did not abide by the stipulation in the Bank of Ghana Act 2004

for a limit of GH¢8.26 million on government borrowing.

The report noted that the government borrowed in excess of GH¢1.3 million in addition to the cap.

While the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) was a key culprit in the contracts, procurements and cash irregularities under the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) was also tipped as the key agency for the leakage of government funds under the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Institutional failures

The report also highlighted the role the Auditor General and the Ministry of Finance played in curbing outrageous spending, but indicted that the two institutions all the same, together with other government agencies and boards, like that of COCOBOD, for excesses and fiscal imprudence.

Mr Boahen said arrangements for punitive measures to be taken by the Auditor General were not being used.

“Why is he still being paid to stay in office?” Mr Boahen queried and suggested a performance criteria for the Auditor General to sign and commit himself or herself to in relation to limits of fiscal irregularities.

In the case of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for instance, he indicated that for several billions of cedis worth of chemicals were left to rot in its warehouse.

He said institutional failures, apathy in curbing impropriety and legal failings had made Ghana lose billions of cedis that could be put into education, health and job creation efforts.

The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Mr Sampson A. Asaki, was visibly bothered after the presentation.

He told the audience, “The report has troubled my heart today.”

Recommendations

The Programme Advisor for Active Citizenship, Oxfam Ghana, Mr Abdulkarim Mohammed, said in getting the government to commit to what mattered most, which were education, health and job creation, the excuse given was that there were fiscal constraints.

He said by partnering with Imani, Oxfam was endeavouring to show how fiscal freedom could be recovered by plugging excesses.

Mr Mohammed announced a citizens’ manifesto to set an agenda for politicians in the run up to the 2016 general election, as they courted voters to their sides.

Imani’s report strongly recommended the enforcement of punitive measures under the law by the Auditor General, and also strongly charged MDAs and Bulk Oil Distributors (BODs) to exercise greater control and set performance targets.

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