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OccupyGhana demands details of GH₵2.2bn

-Auditor-General claimed to have retrieved

OccupyGhana is demanding specifics, details and particulars of alleged disallowances and retrievals from the Auditor-General.

The pressure group wants names of the people involved, amounts allegedly retrieved from each of them, and when and how the said retrievals occurred.

The demand constitutes  the exercise of  OccupyGhana’s right to information under both the Constitution and the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989).

OccupyGhana’s demand was in response to a story dated September 18 2022 in which the Auditor General Mr. Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu disclosed that his outfit disallowed GH₵4 billion and ‘retrieved’ GH₵2.2 billion from those disallowances between 2017 and 2020.

According to the reports, Auditor Service has opened a recoveries account with the Bank of Ghana, into which GH₵908,653 has been paid.

However, OccupyGhana  said a close reading of the story, and comparing its contents with information the Auditor-General provided to the pressure group, letters dated June  14 and  July 4, 2022, gives OccupyGhana  much cause for concern, grounds to doubt the veracity of recovery claims, and bases to question the legality of some of the steps  the Auditor-General claimed to have taken.

The pressure group pointed out that section 17(2) of the Audit Service Act demands that ‘a sum specified by the Auditor-General to be due from any person shall be paid by that person to the department or institution.’

In view of this provision, OccupyGhana stated that Auditor-General’s alleged recoveries into the above-named account are illegal.

“The persons affected are to pay the amounts ‘to the department or institution’ and not to any special account that you may have opened.

“This formality requirement is stated in section 17(1) of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584), which mandatorily demands that you ‘shall specify to the appropriate head of department or institution the amount due from any person upon whom he has made a surcharge or disallowance and the reasons for the surcharge or disallowance.’

“Section 17(6) then reinforces this formal requirement by saying that in any recovery proceedings, ‘a certificate signed by the Auditor-General shall be prima facie evidence of the facts certified.

“To compound matters, you informed us, in your letter to us dated 14 June 2022, that you had (i) decided that before you issue the formal specification/notice, you will first issue a notice of intention to disallow, and (ii) established a committee that ‘is collecting evidence from the various audit teams before proceeding with the notice of intention to disallow and/or surcharge and follow it up with disallowance and surcharge certificates where appropriate,” it added.

OccupyGhana therefore stated that Auditor-General cannot claim to have disallowed any expenditure, without the formal documentation required of it by both the Supreme Court and the Act.

“Further, you cannot claim to have ‘retrieved’ any sums unless and until you have issued surcharges,” it added.

The pressure group said it struck at the blinding speed with which the Auditor-General transitioned from setting up the committee, to the committee concluding its work, to issuing notice of intention to disallow Ȼ4 Billion, to issuing disallowance certificates, and to retrieving Ȼ2.2 billion (without surcharge certificates), and all between June and now.

OccupyGhana is therefore curious to know how these headline disallowances and consequent ‘retrievals’ occurred.

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