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GH¢12.8bn Lost To MDA’s ‘Chop Chop’

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The government has lost over GH¢12.8 billion due to infractions and other irregularities committed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the year 2020, a report of the Auditor General’s Department has revealed.

Some of the infractions included contract irregularities, tax irregularities, procurement irregularities, payroll irregularities, cash irregularities, and challenges retrieving loans from debtors among others.

The report noted that outstanding debts and challenges in retrieving loans from debtors accounted for a chunk of the irregularities perpetrated by the statutory institutions, totaling GH¢10 billion.

This was followed by cash irregularities which accounted for over GH¢1.8 billion and procurement irregularities, GH¢848 million.

Contract irregularities also accounted for GH¢89.8 million out of the total sum of GH¢12.8 billion.

“The total irregularities stood at GH¢12,856,172,626 which included US$918,285,771.95 converted into Cedis at the prevailing exchange rate of GH¢5.7602 to the US$1 as at 31st December, 2020, and €647,815.00 converted into Cedis at the prevailing exchange rate of GHS7.0643 to €1 as at 31st December 2020 and 464, 963.13 converted into Cedis at the prevailing exchange rate of GHS7.8742 to £1 as at 31st December 2020,” report said.

“The total irregularities figure of GH¢718,085,208 for 2016 increased to GH¢12,002,880,339 in 2017.

“The irregularities however, declined by GH¢8,995,621,415 in 2018 to GH¢3,007,258,924 but the total irregularities increased by 81.8% from the 2018 figure of GH¢3,007,258,924 to GH¢5,468,398,431 in 2019.

“During the period ending 31st December 2020, the total irregularities recorded a 135% or GH¢7,387,774,195 rise from GH¢5,468,334,006 in 2019 total irregularities figure to GH¢12,856,172,626 in 2020.

“This was occasioned mainly by a surge of GH¢5,207,442,576 or 107% in outstanding debtors/loans/recoverable component of the total irregularities for the period ending 31st December 2020,” the report added.

On outstanding loans/debtors, the Auditor General among other things recommended that the Management of Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions should strictly adhere to rules and regulations about debts management.

“They should also put in place proper policies for the management of loans and other receivables, as well as ensuring that loans and debts are repaid on due dates to avoid or minimise the occurrence of bad debts,” it said.

Cash irregularities which have to do with misapplication of funds, non-retirement of imprest, payments not authenticated, payment of Board Allowances to Council Members without Ministerial approval, and cash locked up in non-performing investments, also contributed to the losses, the report pointed out.

In the Auditor-General’s recommendation, he said, “I, therefore, urged the Managements of the Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions to strengthen supervisory controls over their finance officers, and ensure that they adhere to the provisions of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). I also recommended the authentication of all payment vouchers, prompt payment to the bank and full retirement of accountable imprest on due dates.”

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