It has emerged that last year the Audit Service recovered about GH¢67.3 million from individuals and organizations that misappropriated state funds.
The recovery effort, spearheaded by the Auditor General and his team, came in the form of disallowances and surcharges of organizations and individuals.
A statement issued by the Public Affairs Department of the Ghana Audit Service said the amount was realized from 112 surcharge certificates the Service issued as at November 30, 2018.
“The Auditor-General, during the period, issued 122 Surcharge Certificates to individuals and organizations and recovered a total amount of GH¢67,315,066.12 into government chest,” it added.
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Every year, the Auditor-General makes adverse findings against some individuals and institutions in relation to the misapplication of public funds in the annual reports presented to Parliament.
In spite of the many adverse findings, there is a public perception that there is no punitive sanction for those who are cited in the reports.
Pressure group OccupyGhana, as a result, instituted legal action against the Attorney General and the Auditor General in June 2017 at the Supreme Court for ‘refusing’ to surcharge persons, who were said to have misappropriated state funds which they claimed was estimated at over GH¢40 billion.
They sought a declaration that “the Auditor-General’s omission, failure, refusal or neglect to issue any disallowances and surcharges in respect of the above, and as appears in his successive reports since the coming into force of the Constitution, violates the Constitution.”
The pressure group therefore sought “an order of the Supreme Court directed at the Auditor-General to issue disallowances and surcharges to, and in respect of all persons and entities found in his relevant, successive reports to have engaged in any of the above.”
The court, on July 14, 2017, ordered the Auditor General to, with immediate effect, begin surcharging persons found to have misappropriated state funds.
Before the legal action, OccupyGhana had written to the Auditor General in 2014 to surcharge such persons or face it in court.
A statement issued by the pressure group, after filing the suit on June 22, 2017, said several efforts to ensure that the Auditor General surcharged those cited in its reports had fallen on deaf ears.
“Regrettably, after a dozen letters and exchanges, and one publicized meeting on 27th March 2015, the Auditor-General has not taken any steps to exercise those powers, which would lead to the recovery of huge sums of money for the State,” the statement added.
Further, the recovery of GH¢67,137,517.86 as a result of the Auditor-General’s Surcharges and recovery efforts must be lauded by all Ghanaians.
Meanwhile, there are surcharges of almost half a billion cedis outstanding, waiting for enforcement.
“We applaud the bold steps taken and results obtained by the current Audit Service under the leadership of the current Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo. We urge them not to relent in enforcing the judgment of the Supreme Court, prevent, where possible, the theft of the nation’s monies and recover for Ghana whatever is stolen.
“We conclude by urging the Attorney-General to commence the prosecution of the persons, who either caused, attempted to or conspired to cause these losses to Ghana. The Supreme Court was clear that there must be “appropriate punishment,” the pressure added.
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