PURC grilled over ¢100,000 wastage on Christmas hamper

Christmas hamperThe Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has come under fire from Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for spending nearly ¢100,000 on Christmas hampers.

When members of the Commission appeared before PAC Tuesday, it emerged that they had spent nearly ¢100,000  on gifts between the periods of 2011-2012.

Committee members questioned why they flouted an earlier direction by the late President John Evans Atta Mills banning expenditure on hampers by public institutions.

The late President in 2009 ordered the various ministries to desist from using state funds to buy Christmas hampers and gifts, which he believed could compromise them.

In 2013, President John Mahama also extended the directive to include government departments and agencies.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Samuel Sarpong confirmed that the amount was used for the purchase of some 330 hampers adding, “The directive came after the expenditure.”

However, this did not go down with a member of the Commission who pointed out that it was sheer negligence and a profligate spending of the taxpayer’s money since the directive was given before December 2012.

The Executive Secretary was subjected to a barrage of questions from members largely because they found it inexplicable that the Commission spent such a colossal amount on something, which is out of their line of duty.

Mr Sarpong explained that although they used to send out souvenirs during the Yuletide, they realized it was more expensive as compared to giving out hampers to their stakeholders.

“We deal with a lot of stakeholders across the breadth of the country and the hampers were our alternative choice of reducing the cost of giving out souvenirs,” he said.

“As at that time the cost of a hamper was ¢2000 and we manage to do it at ¢300,” Mr Sarpong explained.

The Commission was indicted in the Auditor General’s report for blowing ¢99,663 on the distribution of Christmas hampers.

“We observed that the amount of ¢99,663 for the purchase of the hampers was not retired or adjusted to the personal advance account of the imprest holder, instead the entire amount was expensed at the end of the year in violation of the provisions of FAR 288. This was due to the absence of a mechanism in place to ensure that such advances were retired promptly,” the report said.

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