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

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.

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.

The Auditor-General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo has therefore declared his intention to surcharge the heads of these MDAs under whose watch the ¢564.2 million losses occurred.

He however, noted that the enforcement to disallow the existence of the ‘ghost’ employees was put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We plan to exercise this mandate and ensure the recovery of all unearned salaries immediately after the spread of the Covid-19 is contained,” he stated.

The audit report further revealed that out of 12,536 potential ‘ghost’ employees, the heads or management of the MDAs had evidence to confirm that 1,195 were at post, while 3,518 were confirmed not at post.

It indicated that the 3,518 workers who were confirmed not at post were, among other things, deceased, on interdiction, leave of absence, had resigned, were suspended or had vacated post.

The report also added that the management of the MDAs could, however, not provide any evidence to guarantee the existence of 7,823 of the employees.

Even though the Auditor-General has decided not to enforce any directive due to the current global pandemic, he has urged the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) to take the necessary steps to clean the payroll.

“We recommend that the CAGD should ensure the termination of the unaccounted for employees on the payroll. The heads of MDAs should also ensure the full recovery of the unearned salaries from the affected persons.”

In 2013, the CAGD introduced the Electronic Salary Payment Voucher (E-SPV) platform to ensure the efficient payment of salaries and avoid double payments.

However, according to the report, although notifications were sent by some management of the MDAs on the E-SPV platform for some employees to be discontinued, the notifications were ignored by the CAGD.

Thus, some 6,307 individuals were paid unearned salaries of ¢87,560,632.53 as of June 2018.

Additionally, employees who had gone past the retirement age were still on the payroll because the payroll system had not been properly configured to terminate automatically.

It indicated that the names of 84 employees who had attained the statutory retirement age and had no contract extension were still on the payroll

Again, the examination of records revealed that some 19,203 academic certificates presented during the enumeration exercise were suspected to be fraudulent.

“A total of 7,407 out of the 19,203 suspicious certificates were confirmed to be genuine and 62 found to be fake.  However, owing to the challenges encountered by the universities in querying our data, they were unable to confirm the outstanding 11,734 certificates,” the report added.

The review conducted by the Auditor General’s Department therefore charged the CAGD to properly configure the payroll system and terminate the records of all the discontinued employees on the payroll.

“For efficiency, we also recommend a seamless integration of the E-SPV system with the payroll system, resulting in prompt update of employee records.

“To prevent multiple payments of salaries, we urge the CAGD to configure the payroll system to prevent payment of salaries to persons who have not been biometrically identified,” it added.

Speaking about this issue on Joy FM’s Newsnite, the Deputy Auditor General said the exercise was carried out to exhibit the seriousness on the part of government to ensure that the pay roll is strengthened.

George Swanzy Winful indicated that the Finance Ministry collaborated with the Auditor-General’s Department the Controller and Accountant General’s Department after it observed some inconsistencies in the payroll system.

“There is seriousness in all the stakeholders as far as this one is concerned therefore, the inception of this exercise including the CADG getting themselves involved to make sure that we got our facts right and all unqualified people taken off the payroll,” he stressed.