A Fellow at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana, says the Auditor General’s Department must move from conducting payroll audits to forensic audits.

Professor Kwaku Asare said this will enable it to fish out creators of ghost names in various government offices.

The Accounting professor believes that is the only way to end the problem of ghost names which has become rampant in the country’s civil service.

“These ghost problems are as old as the republic itself. Every year the Auditor-General conducts his audits and reports that there are ghosts. We talk about it for a few days and then we move on without anything happening.

“So to me it’s no longer interesting that there are ghost workers but what is interesting for me is who is creating this ghosts and why don’t we go after them?”

His comments come after the Auditor General’s Department disclosed that Ghana has lost some ¢564.2 million to ghost names on the payroll of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The Auditor General’s Department after conducting a payroll audit on Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), discovered that the public purse has lost an amount of ¢564.2 million to ‘ghost’ names.

These unaccounted for employees make up ¢467.6 million of the total unearned salaries.

The periodic audit exercise, which was carried out in 2018, in accordance with Section 16 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584) revealed that 7,823 ‘ghost’ employees existed in 21 MDAs.

Prof. Kwaku Asare

According to the report, the various MDAs include, ministries of Education, Finance, Energy, Defence, Communications, Information, Health, the Interior, Railway Development and Foreign Affairs.

The others are, Local Government and Rural Development, Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Employment and Labour Relations, Food and Agriculture, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Lands and Natural Resources and Gender, Children and Social Protection, Roads and Highways, Transport, Sanitation and Water Resources and Justice and Attorney-General.

And the Agencies are the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the Electoral Commission, the Judicial Service and the Local Government Service.

Mr Asare who was baffled by the high numbers of ghost names recorded at these MDAs said the act of creating ghost names is a deliberate scheme to extort monies from government purse, therefore, it must be tackled from the root in order to call it a thing of the past.

“When we look at the report there are three ministries; the Education Ministry has over 5000 ghosts and it is alleged that payments to these ghosts exceed ¢200 million.

“Then the Health Ministry has 1300 ghosts and payments exceed ¢127 million. Local Government Ministry also has 548 ghosts with payments exceeding ¢34 million.

“We must conduct a forensic audit of the ministries and go beyond a payroll audit, with an intend to figure out what specific schemes are enabling these ghost payments, who are the ring leaders of this scheme so that we can administer a blow to them that will strike fear in anyone who intends to bring up a ghost scheme to other departments,” he said on Newsfile.

He likened the system to a system where “one bank account allows about 30 or 40 people to deposit their paycheck,’” which he described as appaling.

“That is a no-no in any payroll system. Several suspected fraudulent certificates used for employment, over-leverage workers; there’s a policy that no worker should be allowed to deduct half of his salary for installment payments but that’s not followed.

“They have invested in an oracle platform which is a beautiful platform which can be configured in ways that enable some validation controls but they don’t do that and that is because they want this to persist.

 “They cannot have ex-gratia so they also design their own schemes and unless we figure out how to stop the problem at the top, these other things will continue,” he said.