Mismanagement Hits District Assembly Common Fund -GHS124.8 million irregular spending in Audit Report

GHS124.8 million irregular spending in Audit Report GHS124.8 million irregular spending in Audit Report

The Auditor-General's department, has expressed its frustrations at continued mismanagement by District Assembly Common Fund, despite past warnings for the consistent malfeasance.

This comes as the 2019 Auditor General's report on Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, revealed that local assemblies mismanaged the District Assembly Common Fund to the tune of approximately GHS124.8 million.

In all, the acting Auditor-General, revealed that over GH¢3 billion has been identified as the overall financial impact of irregularities in the course of the audit, and Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, in his report said several investigations would be carried out to probe further into the matter and where appropriate, disallow items of expenditure that are contrary to law.

But in the specific case of the District Assemblies, the irregularities for 2019, showed an increase of GHS4.3 million from 2018 where GHS120.5 million was mismanaged.

The Auditor-General complained that this was a manifestation of the assemblies ignoring previous audit recommendations.

The report said the findings "once again showed a lack of commitment on the part of the management of Assemblies in the implementation and enforcement of my audit recommendations towards mitigating infringements of the laws."

The Auditor-General said "non-imposition of sanctions to minimise the violations" contributed to the continued malfeasance.

The report stressed that "effective supervision, monitoring and enforcement of existing statutory and regulatory frameworks, together with the imposition of sanctions should be made paramount to curb the infractions."

He further appealed to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and management of the Assemblies to impose sanctions where necessary to forestall recurrence of the infractions.

The Administrator of District Assemblies Common Fund distributed GHS511 million to the 260 Assemblies.

Cash irregularities in the sum of GHS33.2 million occurred at 170 Assemblies, according to the report.

These included commitment of expenditure without the use of the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS), deduction at source for Fumigation and SIP Services not rendered, funds not accounted for, payments not properly supported with relevant documentation to authenticate the transactions, unretired funds etc.

Some of the irregularities noted included completed projects not in use, projects which were either abandoned or their execution significantly delayed and SIP Services not rendered.

"I observed that the Assemblies awarded fresh projects when earlier ones had not been completed leading to the suspension of work as a result of non-payment of works certificates."

"I also observed that the management of the Assemblies either did not ensure that the Contractors operated with performance bonds covering the period of the contracts or enforced them where they existed," the report noted as examples.

Procurement and stores regularities recorded by the Assemblies amounted to GHS4.1 million.

Even though some of these irregularities did not result in outright losses, the report said they still "did not ensure that the Assemblies obtained value for the resources expended."

The irregularities reduced from GHS10.7 million in 2018 to GHS4.1 million in 2019 representing 61.46 per cent drop.

The Auditor-General, however, recommended "strict compliance with the procurement laws and store regulations."

It also stressed the need for offenders to be sanctioned and "for officials whose negligence resulted in avoidable losses to be held liable to refund such losses."

The acting Auditor-General, disallow items of expenditure that are contrary to law.

He indicated that authorities found culpable would be charged accordingly.

The 2019 auditors report revealed that "exemptions from the payment of duty and tax totalling GH¢6.2 million was granted on imported goods without parliamentary approval".

This was recorded at the collection office of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

Statements from the report also stated: "The Electoral Commission was given exemptions of up to GH¢1.4 million on goods imported. The Ministry of Health was also granted exemptions with a tune of GH¢2.4 million.

"Amandi Energy Limited was given GH¢1.8 million. Authentic International was also given GH¢104, 000, the Ministry of Local Government was given GH¢17,000 and the Ghana Health Service was given over GH¢338,000 exemptions".

The Auditor-General has urged Sector Commanders to ensure that Parliamentary approval letters which gave authority for the exemptions amounting to GH¢7.1 million are provided for inspection.

However, in the absence of that, the exempted amounts would be recovered from the entities involved.

Source: www.theheraldghana.com