Ghana: PAC, Crack the Whip!

22 January 2020

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), within the week, exercised its full powers by ordering the arrest of two public officers, who appeared before it, for suspected perjury.

The two, Isaac Akowuah and James Essilfie, a former and current District Finance Officers of the Sefwi Akontombra District Assembly respectively, were held at the Parliament Police Station for investigations and possible prosecution after being accused of peddling falsehood before the Committee.

The Assembly appeared before the Committee for failing to account for 62 payment vouchers covering a GH¢126,596.76 expenditure in 2016 during the audit.

Resolved to ensure the officers accounted for the expenditure, the Committee asked officials of the Assembly to return to the Committee yesterday with the former District Finance Officer and the payment vouchers covering the spending.

Miraculously, the Assembly which could not account for the payment vouchers for the past three years was able to locate seven of the 62 vouchers before they appeared yesterday.

According to them, the seven vouchers accounted for GH¢120, 000 of the GH¢ 126,576 expenditure.

The remaining 55 payment vouchers which they still could not locate, the two men told the 25-man Committee, accounted for the GH¢6,596.76 difference.

Their submission was repudiated by the Deputy Auditor-General, Odame Agyekum, who argued that the vouchers differed from the provisional documents presented to the team during the audit.

"Since 2016 when this issue cropped up, we have done consistent follow-ups for the vouchers. Even at the latter stages of last year, the same response was that they could not locate the vouchers so as to when they located them, we don't know. The district auditor is yet to see it for the first time. Mr Chairman, none of the vouchers is part of issues under consideration," he said.

The Ghanaian Times believes this is the way to go if PAC can make an impact in the fight against corruption and misuse of public funds.

For far too long, PAC has been discussed in some quarters as acting too 'soft' with persons who have failed to account for expenditure in their various institutions.

Many have, for years, questioned why offenders, after hearings, are left off the hook and no action taken to deter others.

We believe that this posture of the Committee in the past has given room for the impunity to continue.

We are, however, comforted by what the Mr Avedzi-chaired committee has started to do by ordering the arrest, investigation and possible prosecution of public officers who flout the laws on public funds management.

It is time to descend on offending public officers to save our limited resources from misuse and rather ensure it is put to good use for the good of Ghanaians.

Kudos PAC. Time to crack the whip.

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