A total of 1,719 vehicles that were confiscated by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) between 2015 and 2017, and auctioned by the authority cannot be accounted for, the 2018 Auditor-General’s Report has revealed.
Additionally, the report indicated that while GRA officials provided information on just 669 of the vehicles, there was no ample proof of the exact amount that was accrued to the state from the auction of those vehicles.
A Deputy Auditor-General at the Central Government Audit Department of the Audit Service, Mr George Swanzy Winful, who made a presentation at a media briefing on Thursday, said the act had resulted in huge revenue losses to the state.
“We sampled 2,388 of those vehicles for review in our audit exercise to find out if revenue was properly collected and if those proceeds were paid into the consolidated fund and realised that the 1,719 could not be accounted for.
“They only provided information on 669 of the vehicles that were sampled. Even with those ones, we were interested to know the reserved price before the vehicles were auctioned and other relevant documents on the process but they could not provide it.
“As a result, it was difficult for us to agree with them on the reliability of the revenue that was realised from the sale of the 669 vehicles,” he said.
Addressing journalists at the event, the Auditor-General, Mr Yao Domelevo, stressed that all processes would be followed to apply the law to surcharge the officials involved in causing revenue losses to the state.
“Those who are supposed to enforce the payment of taxes and mobilise revenue for the state, but who are causing revenue losses must have the hammer to their head or a knife near their throat so that they will do the right thing,” he stressed.
He said the revenue losses through the auctioned vehicles were only a tip of the iceberg as millions of cedis had been lost through various financial irregularities by state institutions and public officials.
For instance, the Audit Report for 2018, which had already been presented to Parliament, revealed that the overall financial impact of weaknesses and irregularities identified in the audit amounted to about GH¢5.2 billion.
He said the financial weaknesses and infractions were classified broadly under tax, cash, outstanding debts and loans; payroll, procurement, rent payment and contract irregularities.
Mr Domelevo said it was worrying that although the Auditor-General continued to cite public officials and state institutions for unpardonable infractions in the yearly reports, the perpetrators were left to enjoy the booty.
“It is mind-boggling that audit reports come year after year, citing people for causing financial loss to the state but they are still in their offices and move about in their nice cars and sleep in better houses. Nothing happens to them; not even administrative sanctions.
“There is the need for deterrence in the system because for any public financial management system in any part of the world to work well, there must be strong sanctions. People do businesses in this country and do not want to pay taxes and we tolerate it so they perpetuate it,” he stated.
He called on all citizens to rise up and demand from Parliament stiffer and deterrent laws to inflict severe sanctions on public officials who bruise state coffers with impunity.
Mr Domelevo said the Audit Service had finished field work on an ongoing road audit which formed part of efforts to ensure accountability in the use of state resources across all sectors.
He said the findings of the audit exercise were being finalised and would soon be made public to ensure that people who were found to have used state funds to do shoddy work were surcharged.