Prosecute People Causing Financial Loss - CJA

The Committee for Joint Action (CJA) Tuesday called on the government to take legal action against people who have caused financial loss to the state. A press statement read by its Convener, Mr Kwasi Adu, in Accra said the 2010 Auditor-General’s Report indicated that there were more than 500 people on the government payroll who were either far above the retirement age or below the minimum age of employment. Out of the list of those strange employees, over 50 per cent were above the retirement age, while the reminders were below the minimum age, he explained, and wondered how some of them who were documented as being 110 years were still in active employment. Mr Adu added that in the report, employees on study leave without pay were still being paid, resulting in the state paying GH¢228,026.22 to people who were not supposed to be paid. He stated that four state institutions and three oil marketing companies (OMCs) were allowed to default in the payment of State Petroleum Levies to the tune of GH¢4,018,083.48 as a result of the failure of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to obtain bank guarantees from some of the OMCs, as required under the 25-day collections credit policy. The OMCs which were allowed to get away with the huge sums are Fraga Oil (GH¢1.2 million), Star Oil (GH¢352,411) and Glory Oil (GH¢338,872), while the four state institutions are the Ghana Army (GH¢754,875.89), the Ghana Navy (GH¢82,179.28), the Ghana Police Service (GH¢850,166.21) and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) (GH¢465,715.11). “You may recall that in the Auditor-General’s Report in 2005, those same security agencies were indebted to CEPS to the tune of GH¢7.8 million. In 2005, cheques issued by three OMCs in settlement of petroleum taxes on the lifting of oil from TOR bounced and there was no attempt to reclaim them. The amount added up to GH¢1.72 million,” he stated. Mr Adu said it was unfortunate that the country struggled to secure foreign loans, yet officials in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning were unable to keep accurate records of the country’s debt stock. He added that CJA was completely staggered to note that the state had to pay more than GH¢200 million, representing 11 per cent of the government’s expenditure, in judgement debts. According to the him, those debts could have been avoided if the government and other public officials in the past had abided by the law, which they had sworn to uphold. “We agree with the Auditor-General that those public officials, including politicians, whose omissions and commissions led to the imposition of debts should be surcharged. However, the CJA wishes to go a step further that those officials must face prosecution,” he said. Mr Adu said there had been a situation where parts of external loans which were not spent were stated in the public accounts as having been spent. He said the CJA was concerned about the situation in which the Auditor-General’s reports were becoming mere paper exercises which were set aside by responsible public officials as soon as they were issued. “The CJA, therefore, believes that the country needs a complete overhaul of the public service to reflect a bold commitment to fight corruption and maladministration,” he said.