Business in Ghana

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The Great Waist Party. Critical News, 20th March 2016

Posted by Business in Ghana on March 21, 2016

Sydney Casely-Hayford,

Even before the sound was connected and the chairs arranged, Heat arrived through the doors filling every corner with his Fahrenheit posse, making life unbearable and tough for the organizers. His whole plan was to take advantage of the open spaces and make sure they all had good seats as they expanded to fill the girth of the seats.

They had been curious about the type of party it was going to be since they got their invitations. It was a first in Ghana. A “waist” party.

Water followed in sachets and bottles packaged to international standards, replacing the regular supply of tap water or what could be found in filters. They knew no one would drink straight from the taps, but the stigma had worn off and even if supply was considered erratic and the smell of the water still foul, they had stopped caring a long time ago.

It was at the point now where they either pushed for more money or the citizens could complain till they fell asleep.

Of course 2-Purc and his Bukom side crew could not miss out. They had just survived a radio hamper attack and nothing could stop them from turning their backs on a toothless society. They had long mastered the art of shutting out complaints and together with the E-CeeGee team they had the whole system nailed down pat.

And talk about E-CeeGee, they arrived in grand style at the venue, trailing “no. 7 dumsor” perfume by the Shatta Movement, switching the power off as they arrived, threatening to make the whole party a complete misery even before it was fully underway.

So they all came. Representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Agriculture, Health, Trade and Industry, Accra Metropolitan Assembly, President’s Office, various Departments and Agencies and Metropolitan Assemblies, Municipalities and Districts as well as Public Boards and Project offices. Each one of them dressed in one form of Agbada, Batakari, Party cloth or the other, hoping to surprise the other with their waist size, as the party seemed to suggest.

Keynote address was the recently announced co-President of Ghana, but who unfortunately could not make it for some diplomatic reason or the other. The real reason of course was that he saw no reason to be further embroiled in this mess we call a developing economy, when others behind us have moved on so far and fast we look like an afterthought of economic destitution.

So the co-host, the newly crowned Alderman of Scotland had nominated the Speaker of Parliament, who could not attend because he is now the President in Ghana and has so many more duties to attend.

He in turn had asked the leader of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) to deputise for him, a strange decision, which was yet to trickle down to the party players.

And this is what they heard and what started the stampede.

Invited Guests to this first in the series of waste parties, It is a privilege to address all of you gathered here, even though your attire seems a bit out of consonance with the events of this gathering.

My overall objective in auditing the public accounts of Ghana and reporting to Parliament is to determine and report whether:

Proper records and books of accounts have been maintained, the accounts have been properly kept; all public monies due have been fully accounted for, and rules and procedures applicable are sufficient to ensure an effective check on the assessment, collection and proper allocation of the revenue; monies have been expended for the purposes for which they were appropriated and the expenditures have been made as authorised; essential records have been maintained and the rules and procedures applied are sufficient to safeguard and control public property; and programs and activities have been undertaken with due regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness in relation to the resources utilised and results achieved.”

My audit is intended to provide assurance to the citizens of this country and other stakeholders about the regularity of actions and the propriety of government revenues, expenditures and assets, as well as the integrity and adequacy of systems and procedures to perform their intended roles as would lead to orderly, efficient, effective and economical achievement of program objectives by State institutions and other Government agencies given the use of State resources.

I present below the results of my audit.

I found that due to poor cash management and procurement practices, MDAs exhibited difficulties in payroll administration because of the prevalence of unearned salary payments; there was also poor management of loans and debts for agricultural purposes, as well as poor collection of taxes due to the State.

The resulting financial weaknesses and other irregularities are presented in two Tables in this Executive Summary. They have been grouped under seven broad categories as follows

Cash irregularities; Outstanding debts/loans; Payroll Irregularities; Tax Irregularities; Contract Irregularities; Stores/Procurement Irregularities, and Rent payment Irregularities.

The overall financial impact of weaknesses and irregularities identified amounted to GH¢253 million.

There has not been significant compliance with financial reporting requirements and internal controls, though record-keeping continued to improve. Financial indiscipline and activities contrary to the Financial Administration Regulations, L.I. 1802 still persisted. Some MDAs have prepared and submitted their financial statements but these have not met fully the requirements of Section 41 of the Financial Administration Act and are not commented on in this report. It is my expectation that with the roll out of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) there will be an improvement in the situation such that my reports can now embody my audit opinion on MDAs’ financial statements.

I must, in this regard, repeat my previous submission regarding my work, that timely preparation of sound and accurate consolidated financial statements and their submission by the MDAs for subsequent audit should be seen as a key requirement for continued assistance for the Central Government, and Local Government Units.

We observed that mechanisms put in place to protect Government revenue at the ports and enhance increased revenue collection while decreasing Customs Officers abuse of discretionary power, among other purposes, were not being as effective as expected.

The inefficiencies within had led to petroleum tax revenue of over GH¢83.3million due to Government being withheld by Ecobank and Ghana Commercial Bank over unduly long periods by the collecting banks without surrendering this to the appropriate Consolidated Fund account at the Bank of Ghana. Electronic bank statements, which could be used as input for mechanised reconciliations were not provided to assist with the monitoring and reconciliation process. Inadequate narrations in bank statements issued by Bank of Ghana posed similar reconciliation difficulties and resulted in the inability to confirm the sources of credits to the Petroleum Tax Revenue Account No. 1018131461585 amounting to GH¢263 million for the year 2011 with revenue lodgment records at GRA-Customs Division.

Consistent with past reports, this year’s report contains also issues relating to poor cash management practices resulting in failure to pay non-tax and other revenues collected into the Consolidated Fund, cash irregularities, tax irregularities and unauthorised payments, as well as non-availability of adequate records on revenue collected and some expenditures made. We noted, also, instances where controls over the administration of procurement, payroll and contracts were inadequate. The assessed financial impact of the irregularities, weaknesses and other occurrences within the MDAs during the period covered by this report came to an aggregate of GH¢364 million, US$16million, GBP669k and Euros9,307 as represented in Table 1 to the report. Table 2 provides a breakdown of the irregularities by MDAs.

But I do apologise, I appear to have mixed up my pages and some of the items relate to prior audit periods and not the current one.

However, I assure you the pattern is the same, the issues are very much a repetition of all the other years and I would not have said anything different even without the jumble up”.

Then the Printer’s devil stood up and admitted his error. The invitation should have read “The Great Waste Party”. And that’s how these things get going.

Ghana, Aha a yε din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

One Response to “The Great Waist Party. Critical News, 20th March 2016”

  1. Elaine Thompson said

    Well done!

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