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Albert Kan Dapaah
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Members of Parliament (MPs) are calling for the setting up of the Financial Administration Court to prosecute corrupt public officials who are being exposed by reports of the Auditor-General.

Joseph Yieleh Chireh, MP for Wa West, who is also a former minister of state at the Ministries of Local Government and Rural Development and Health, said the time has come for Parliament to remove all the bottlenecks that hinder the establishment of the court.

Under the Financial Administration Act (Act 654, 2003) as amended by (Act 760, 2008), the Chief Justice (CJ) is supposed to set up the Financial Administration Court to enforce recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Auditor-General’s reports as approved by Parliament.

The court also has the jurisdiction to make such orders as it considers appropriate for the recovery of monies, assets or property due the state and to prohibit any individual, whether a public officer or not, from managing public accounts or funds if the individual is unqualified professionally or has been persistently negligent in the management of public funds.

However, the court has not been set up after several years, allowing corrupt public officials who are recommended by PAC for prosecution to virtually walk away.

“Those who enrich themselves through financial malfeasance should be punished. They should not just appear before the Public Accounts Committee and be named and shamed without legal sanctions,” PAC Chairman, Albert Kan-Dapaah stated.

He indicated that 95 percent of his committee’s recommendation did not need the courts for enforcement, pointing out that they could be dealt with through administrative processes.

Kan-Dapaah explained that recommendations were forwarded to the Audit Report Implementation Committee (ARIC) of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for implementation.

The PAC chairman indicated that because members of ARIC are part of the civil service, they find it difficult to discipline nefarious colleagues.

This, according to him, poses as a challenge and that compels people to call for the financial administration court to prosecute corrupt public officials

Re-echoing Kan-Dapaah’ observations, the PAC ranking member, Alhaji Amadu, said it was about time state officials were held accountable so as to halt financial hemorrhage in the public sector.

While considering the reports of the PAC on the report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Pre-University Educational Institutions) for the year ended December 31, 2005 and 2007, MPs were furious that their recommendations on corrupt public officials had not been enforced.

Significant findings pervasive in almost all the Auditor-General’s reports, which have been captured in PAC’s report included misappropriation and loss of funds by state officials, unsubstantiated payments as well as tax, procurement and payroll irregularities.

DAILY GUIDE has learnt that the financial administration court had not been instituted because the CJ had problems with a section of the law, which states that its panel should consist of a High Court Judge as chairman with a Chartered Accountant and Management Consultant or a Professional Valuer.

The CJ, the paper further learnt, was at a loss as to why she should set up a court in which non-lawyers are to give judgment on legal matters and sentence offenders.

Consequently, Speaker Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo directed the leadership of Parliament to consider what should be done to make to the Act operational.

In furtherance of the enforcement of Parliament’s recommendations, the Minority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah- Bonsu, urged the House to activate Article 187 (6) of the constitution.

The afore-mentioned provision states that “Parliament shall debate the report of the Auditor-General and appoint if necessary, in the public interest, a committee to deal with any matters arising from it.”

Supporting Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Deputy Majority Leader, Alhaji Abdul-Rahid Pelpuo, suggested that the PAC should come out with modalities to set up the committee to deal with the implementation of the recommendation of Parliament.

Speaker Bamford-Addo endorsed the suggestion and directed the PAC to come out with the modality within one week.

However, Joseph Yieleh Chireh insisted that notwithstanding the parliamentary committee, the financial administration court will still be needed to do prosecutions since the House’s committees do not have prosecutorial powers.
Source: Awudu Mahama/Daily Guide

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