An economist Dr Eric Osei-Asibey is blaming Parliament for failing to live up to its role of protecting the public purse. This has resulted in public workers misappropriating over Gh¢ 2 billion in 2012.
He says despite about 798 recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to address the culture of mismangement, not a single person has been punished.
The Public Accounts Committee, according to Order 165(2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament, is responsible for examining the audited accounts of government showing sums granted by Parliament to meet public expenditure.
The PAC has the powers of a High Court and therefore can compel heads of government agncies and public institutions to appear before it.
The Auditor-General (A-G) reported enormous financial irregularities amounting to GHC 2,019,188,488.76 (US$50,748,780) unearthed from the accounting books of public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions.
The irregularities, which include the lack of documentation on loan agreements stipulating the terms and conditions, misapplication of funds, overestimation of funds needed and the failure to notify bankers to stop payments of unearned salaries, are listed in the A-G’s 2012 report on 77 public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions released in September, this year.
Contributing to a discussion on Multi TV’s PM Express, Osei Asibey found the situation worrying in view of government’s overspending which has resulted in a huge deficit.
Government is running a budget deficit of 12% to Gross Domestic Product and has been forced to roll out several taxes to help raise funds to reduce the deficit.
The economy has also been downgraded by international credit rating agencies like Fitch, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Moody’s.
The troubling over-expenditure has not stopped public officials from engaging in financial mismanagement.
The lecturer at the Economics Department of the University of Ghana, Dr Eric Osei Assibey points out “I would want to put it squarely on the door step of Parliament….PAC recommendations never see the light of day”.
He believes that in the absence of punitive measures, this trend of corruption and mismanagement will continue.
In public institutions “people do what they want because there are too many loopholes in the system,” he stated.
The lecturer also wondered the kind of human resources at work in Parliament because a first degree accounting graduate would be expected to know basic practices that could have gone a long way to protect the taxpayer.
Dr. Eric Osei Assibey notes “if we cannot adhere to basic administrative practices in this time and age then where are we going”.
On the recalcitrant culture of ghost names, he advised that some pre-auditing is done before salaries of public officials are paid.