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The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC), Chaired by Mr. Kwaku Agyeman Manu, was last Friday compelled to suspend its public sitting after discovering massive financial malpractices at the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly.

The committee members, who were shocked with the content of the auditor’s report on the assembly, probed for answers for some of the malpractices listed in the report, but could not get answers to them.

The audit report, which covered the 2011 financial year, alleged, for instance, that the assembly wasted GH˘600,000 without any proper accounting to back the expenditure. The audit report also uncovered that a total of GH˘192,399.65 payments made by the Assembly were not supported with receipts and expenditure details.

Out of the 59 payment vouchers made by the Assembly in the period under review, only 37 supported the payments, which amounted to GH˘91,420. Also, payments for goods purchased, amounting to GH˘15,785, have no receipts covering them. There were other several malpractices cited by the audit report.

When the committee members asked Mr. Kurk Kwofie, Financial Officer of the assembly, to produce receipts covering the purchases made by the assembly for verification, he told them that the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) was conducting investigations into their operations, and that they had handed over those receipts upon request.

When asked whether the assembly did not have photocopies of these receipts which they could make available to the committee, the Finance Department could not answer the question.

An obviously bewildered Ranking Member (RM) of the committee, Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar Dey, told the Finance Officer and his boss, Capt. Cudjoe (rtd), that because the Assembly generates on average GH˘2.7 million in a year from its own sources, they had enough money to waste.

Frustrated by the failure to produce receipts to cover the expenditures made, the Kwaku Agyeman Manu-led committee was left with no option than to suspend the sitting to enable the officials fetch all the receipts covering the expenditures they have made.

They would report to the PAC in Accra in November this year.

Heaving a sigh of relief after the PAC suspended the sitting, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Assembly, Capt. Anthony Cudjoe (rtd), thanked the MPs for the decision. Earlier, the Chairman of the PAC told journalists in an interview that financial irregularities, as contained in the audited report of the various Assemblies, beat human understanding.

The irregularities, the PAC Chairman mentioned, varied, citing some as being abuse of the Public Procurement Act (PPA).

According to him, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and Coordinating Directors were taking monies from the assemblies to travel “without doing the right thing when they come back.”

He pointed out that when that happens “you make people suspicious.” The PAC Chairman further told the journalists that the sitting of the PAC in the region had benefited the country to the tune of GH˘1.3 billion in the payment of taxes.
Source: The Chronicle

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