RE: Request For The Exercise Of The Auditor-General’s Powers Of Disallowance And Surcharge And Notice Of Action.
On 12 November 2014, OccupyGhana (“OG”) wrote to the Auditor-General and the Attorney-General, requesting confirmation that:
1. wherever the Auditor-General has identified irregularities in his reports leading to loss of money to the state, he agrees that those matters constitute appropriate cases for Disallowance and Surcharge, and that if he does not consider any case to be appropriate for Disallowance and Surcharge, he must specify his reasons in writing, in accordance with the duty to be candid, imposed by Article 296 of the
2. he will apply appropriate measures of Disallowance and Surcharge in each case, giving the requisite statutory notice; and
- following the expiry of the notice, he exercises his power to refer the matter to the appropriate body for action to recover the sums through the civil court process.
Auditor-General’s “CONFIDENTIAL” Letter
On 9 December 2014, the Auditor-General wrote and delivered to OG, a “CONFIDENTIAL” letter, seeking “to explain the role of the Auditor-General and to deal with the concerns of the group.” That letter “acknowledge[d] the work of OCCUPYGHANA in championing the course of Good Governance and Accountability” and “welcome[d] the support of OCCUPYGHANA as a social partner in enhancing the work of the Auditor-General.”
OG is grateful to the Auditor-General for the letter and kind words. OG further assures the Auditor-General that although we do not see any proper basis for marking the letter as “CONFIDENTIAL,” we have nevertheless respected his wishes. However, due to the high public interest in these matters, OG does not intend to treat its letters as confidential, and strongly recommends that the Auditor-General do same.
On 9 January 2015 OG wrote and delivered to the Auditor-General, a letter that in the main, disagreed with the Auditor-General’s attempted explanations and answers, as being extremely inadequate and entirely without merit. In summary, OG states that the Auditor-General:
- has misconstrued and then placed a unilateral, unreasonable and unconstitutional limitation on the powers of Disallowance and Surcharge under the Constitution (Article 187(7)(b)), the Audit Service Act, and the Audit Service Regulations;
- has manifestly, unreasonably and inexplicably confused the Disallowance and Surcharge procedure under the Audit Service Act, section 17, with the provisions of section 20 of the same Act, which only govern the Report to Parliament;
- appears completely oblivious of further powers of Disallowance and Surcharge under the Local Government Act; and
- has given information concerning the setting up of a Joint Committee “to look at cases spanning 2006 to 2011,” which is a manifestly inadequate response to the requests for confirmation sought in OG’s 12 November 2014 letter.
Previous “Adverse Comments”
A document titled Paper on Proposals for Amendment of 1992 Constitutional Provisions on the Office of Auditor-General and the Audit Service, undated and published on the Audit Service’s website http://www.ghaudit.org/reports/Proposal+for+Constitutional+Amendment.pdf, states that in the past, both Parliament and “Development Partners who have invested in the national budget” have unsuccessfully urged the Auditor-General to fully and truly deploy the Disallowance and Surcharge powers. Paragraph 21.ii (Issues and Comments) on page 16 says:
The Office of the Auditor-General has received adverse comments from Development Partners who have invested in the national budget and also from Parliament for not actively introducing measures to implement the provisions on surcharge and disallowance.
Request for Disclosure
Accordingly, OG has requested the Auditor-General to make the following disclosures:
1. details of any scheme of rewards established for persons who provide information leading to successful recovery of funds arising from audits undertaken into reported cases (as required by the Audit Service Regulations), and whether there have been any reported cases since it was set up;
2. copies of any specifications/certifications of Disallowance and/or Surcharge ever issued to and served on any Heads of Departments/Institutions under the Audit Service Act or affected persons under the Local Government Act;
3. a copy of the certification issued in the one court case involving a Surcharge referred to by the Auditor-General; and
4. copies of “adverse comments” received from Parliament and ‘Development Partners’ about the Disallowance and Surcharge powers.
Finally, OG has invited the Auditor-General to:
- agree with us that the constitutional and statutory powers of Disallowance and/or Surcharge are much more expansive than have been exercised in the past and have purportedly been explained in the 9 December 2014 letter, and then
- take urgent steps to issue all relevant Disallowances and/or Surcharges from the coming into force of the Constitution to date.
OG has given the Auditor-General notice that upon failure, refusal or neglect to confirm in writing within 14 days, to meet these legitimate and reasonable demands, which have the potential of recovering tens of millions of Ghana Cedis for Ghana, OG shall immediately commence legal proceedings.
We #OccupyGhana® for God and Country just because we know our Ghana will work again!
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