A legal practitioner and journalist has stated that the Ghana Audit Service (GAS) can be more efficient in its work if the media takes a keen interest in reports they generate.
Samson Lardy Anyenini said the many cases of irregularities exposed by the Audit Service had not been considered and discussed leaving perpetrators of the act going scot-free because the media had failed persistently to express interest in the activities of the service.
In his view, the media had the power to demand accountability from public officers and institutions and one of the ways to achieve that was for journalists to pay attention to issues pertaining to the management of the public purse.
Mr Anyenini was speaking at a seminar organised by the GAS for news editors and media practitioners in Accra last Wednesday.
He said, “it is sad that reports produced after the Audit Service has undertaken the task of scrutinising how public funds are spent are abandoned to gather dust on the shelves while offenders go unpunished”.
“Journalists have a duty to inform the public that matters in the Auditor General’s reports have direct effects on their welfare.
“Even for journalists who care to read the report, their only interest is in the executive summary and the transmittal letter addressed to the Speaker of Parliament,” he added.
Study the law
Under Article 187 (2) of the 1992 Constitution, the Auditor General is mandated to audit the public accounts of Ghana and all public offices, including metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, public corporations and organisations established by an Act of Parliament and report the findings to Parliament.
Mr Anyenini underscored the need for journalists to study the law that established the GAS in order to understand its functions to enable them to peruse findings and recommendations in its reports.
Describing the report from the Audit Service as a source of compelling news, he urged journalists not to relent in their efforts to follow cases of irregularities captured in the reports until the perpetrators of the reported wrongdoings were made to face the law.
“The findings are by law, deemed to be the factual account of the institutions audited and for the period of the audit until the contrary is proven in court.
“It is, therefore, not advisable to engage politicians and political or social commentators on the reports as that amounts to impugning the factual accuracy and due processes of the reports, as well as the integrity of the findings and recommendations of the reports,” Mr Anyenini added.
The seminar was part of efforts by the GAS to engage its stakeholders in an effort to consolidate execution of its constitutional mandate.
The event was on the theme: “Achieving greater audit impact through education and stakeholder engagements” and was attended by about 60 news editors and journalists drawn from various media outlets.
Officials at the GAS educated participants on the operations of the service, constitutional provisions undergirding its mandate and ways the media could collaborate with it in pursuing its agenda.
Monitoring and supervision
For his part, the Assistant Auditor General in Charge of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr John Boateng Odame Agyekum, urged the management of the various public institutions to impose severe sanctions on officials who failed to adhere to public financial management requirements.
“The greatest professional satisfaction for the Audit Service is not only the disclosure of errors, waste and losses but also the evidence of public officers willing to correct unsatisfactory situations,” he said.