Imani Ghana Did Poor Analysis On The 2012 Auditor General�s Report

My attention was drawn to a comment made by the Founding President and Executive Director of Imani Ghana, a policy Think Tank, Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, on the 2012 Auditor General�s Report to Parliament. In that comment, Mr. Franklin Cudjoe was reported as saying that �The level of corruption and waste in the country under the current administration exceeds that of the preceding governments�. This assertion from the think tank was based on Graphic Report that quoted an amount of 4.3 billion Ghana cedis loss to the state as per the Auditor General�s Report. I want to state that Franklin Cudjoe and his Imani got it wrong as in my opinion; they failed to study the report but went ahead to make that assertion based on the raw figures picked from the Graphic report. In the following analysis, I decided to rely only on three of the various reports by the Auditor General on the 2012 accounts of public funds. The three reports are those on the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Districts Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) and Public Corporate Boards. I chose these three specifically because they seem, in my opinion, to have direct government influence more than the rest of the reports. From the above mentioned reports one can observe that the total amounts reported by the Auditor General were about 2.5 billion (GHC2,463,342,320.36). This amount represents various irregularities such as Tax Irregularities, Cash Irregularities, Payroll Irregularities, Stores and Procurement Irregularities, Outstanding Debts/Loans and Contract Irregularities. It is important for all Ghanaians to note that for corruption purposes not all the above mentioned irregularities can be classified as moneys loss to the state or for that matter spent by some individuals. For example the Tax Irregularities arise mostly as a result of some private organizations� delay in paying corporate tax and VAT amounts due to the state and also delays in paying withholding taxes due to the state. These amounts cannot be completely loss to the state since the state officials responsible to collect those taxes could do so in the 2013 fiscal year. Another typical example is the Outstanding Loans and Debts which are collectible if the proper mechanisms are put in place by various agencies and institutions and therefore cannot be deemed lost to the state as a result of corrupt practices. It is therefore worth noting that the Cash Irregularities, Payroll Irregularities and Contract Irregularities are those irregularities that can seriously be classified as being corrupt practices perpetrated by public officials. Though irregularities arising from Store and Procurement could also be calculated attempt by officials to subvert the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 266) for personal gains, experience show that some of those irregularities arise from share lackadaisical attitude by store officials to issue appropriate store receipt and request document to indicate the proper management of stores items. In some other cases however, stores officials do abuse the store and procurement procedures for personal gains. A study of the figures as stated in the three reports show that about 2 billion Ghana cedis (GHC2,019,188,488.76) thus about 80% of the 2.5 billion Ghana cedis stated above was irregularities reported on Public Boards. It must be noted that these are autonomous institutions that operate on their own and supervised by the Board of Directors usually appointed by the President of the State. Out of this amount of 2.5 billion Ghana cedis, about 1.7 billion Ghana cedis was due to Outstanding Loans, Staff Debtors and Trade Debtors. In fact the Auditor General�s report never stated anywhere that this amounts are irrecoverable but rather recommended that officials responsible should ensure that these amounts are collected. I therefore do not see why Imani of all think tanks will see such amount as being lost to the state as a result of corrupt practices. Another interesting issue worth noting from the report is the figure pertaining to the MDAs where the Government Ministers and Deputies are responsible. The total amount for irregularities by the Auditor�s report was about 395.72 million Ghana cedis and about 85.5% (GHC340,146,161.75) of that amount was due to tax irregularities. And as I said earlier these taxes are not completely loss to the state as majority of this amount are owed to the state by private companies who are still in opertions from their various locations and serious efforts could be made to collect those amounts. Another important thing worth noting from the report is that the tax irregularities span from as long as 2003 to 2012 and we all know that this cannot be blame on the single government and not at all on this current government and if Franklin Cudjoe and his Imani Ghana had done proper analysis of the report, they would have come to the same conclusion instead of the knee-jerk statement based on the Graphic report. For example, a careful look at the figures show that out of the 340.1 million due to tax irregularities, about 245.36 million Ghana cedis was outstanding tax due from Large Taxpaying Companies since 2003 and 12.4 million was taxes owed by Small Taxpaying Companies since 2009. The report also stated that 70.9 million Ghana cedis was an outstanding VAT owed by 60 traders across the country and 8.5 million Ghana cedis is as a result of withholding taxes and PAYE taxes owed by 4 private companies (which are named by the Auditor General�s reports). What I want to stress here is that all these amounts cannot said to be lost to the state as a result of corrupt practices and even if they do qualified as such, they are not perpetrated by the state officials let alone by government officials but by private individuals who own those companies. It is also worth noting that out of the 2.5 billion Ghana cedis stated in the three reports the amount attributable to Cash and Payroll Irregularities and Contract Irregularities (which could qualified for corruption) totaled about 320.7 million Ghana cedis representing about 13%. This is made up of about 9.6 million Ghana cedis attributable to the Ministries Departments and Agencies, about 41.1 million Ghana cedis attributable to the District Assemblies across the country and about 270 million Ghana cedis attributable to the Public Boards. This is a clear indication that the various public corporations which are managed by private individual professionals are seriously abusing our funds and it is imperative on various civil societies like Imani Ghana to start putting pressure on those institutions to sit up and get things done properly or call for prosecution of those officials involved instead of the deliberate attempt to drug the image of the president in the mud using the Auditor General�s report. For the mean time I think we all need to give a thumb up to the president as he is making cogent and practical efforts to curb this menace which has bedeviled the country for many years from one government to another. At least we are all aware today that the President�s directives to get GYEEDA�s moneys lost back as the three main companies have accepted the terms for repayment of the moneys lost to the state while their contracts have been terminated. We are also aware that over 30 officials of GYEEDA, both past and current, have been interrogated by the security agencies. Also there are currently a team of lawyers in the AGs department who are working hard to retrieve those moneys lost to the state as a result of the above mentioned irregularities in the Auditor General�s report, per the directive of the president. This is the first time in the history of the fourth republican government that we are witnessing such directives from the presidency and serious action being put in place to ensure that the directives are followed for our moneys to be retrieved. If all previous governments have made some little efforts to minimize the corrupt practices in our public institutions and the ministries, I believe we would have been moving very far on the International corruption index. God bless our Homeland Ghana and make all her citizens great and strong as we resolve to play our individual roles to eradicate corruption from our society.