Johnson Asiedu, Auditor-General

Friday, last week, the Auditor-General held a meeting with the Citizens Coalition. This was after the demonstration compelled by his refusal to meet the Coalition that has been demanding he issues disallowances and surcharges.

Since assuming office in August 2020, Mr. Johnson Akuamoah Aseidu has issued only one surcharge for an amount of about GHC1m.

An audit found that Mohammed Suraj, an Accounting Officer at Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate in the Ashanti Region failed to lodge the money being revenue collected between 2014-2019.

What he did, according to the report, was to falsify Bank of Ghana stamp on pay-in-slips to give the false impression that he had lodged the money into the directorate’s BoG accounts.

He, it appears, has not complied with the surcharge to pay a total of about GHC 1.5m. First, tell me why such thievery should result only in a refund and not prosecution? Those who steal a bunch of plantain to survive do not get to be asked to replace it or pay and go without punishment – at least they get a record of criminal conviction.

Well, he says he handed matters over to the Attorney-General who has not acted. The Attorney-General is upfront that there has been “inordinate delay and significant tardiness” taking action on surcharges. He expects the Auditor-General to be forthcoming with information he has requested to assist his work. Both assure that they have set up committees to fast-track processes regarding disallowances and surcharges and prosecution of offenders.   

What the Coalition does not understand is the inertia and inaction in the face of evidence that his predecessor, Daniel Domelevo, who was hounded out by the President for simply doing his work and doing it so well, recovered GHC 67m within a brief period of issuing over a hundred disallowances and surcharges.

The Coalition is simply giving impetus to sustained demands by Occupy Ghana which secured a Supreme Court Judgment fortifying the Auditor-General’s power and ordering it to always disallow wrongful expenditure and surcharge those who stole money, incurred loss or misapplied funds.

Occupy Ghana calculates there is some GHC 48b misapplied or stolen money in the 2016-2020 Auditor-General’s annual reports. He reported GHC 17b in his 2021 report. But why is he not issuing disallowances and surcharges for whatever is recoverable from the total of GHC 65b from the reports since 2016? Who are the people tried or standing trial in court for stealing the poor tax-payer’s money since the Auditor-General started issuing reports in this Republic?

Now we know that actions taken between 2017-2020 yielded GHC2.2b. Since he took office in August 2020, he has got some people to account for over GHC900,000 found to be due the state during audit activities. This has been paid into a fresh account he set up this year.

Dear Johnson Akuamoah Aseidu, the Citizens Coalition and all Ghanaians thank you for the up-to-date figures on the recoveries between 2017-2020. Thanks for agreeing with us on the need to issue disallowances and surcharges. Please just go ahead and issue them and leave the AG to prosecute where necessary.

In fact, you disregard the Supreme Court’s orders at the risk of ten years in jail for the offence of high crime if the AG will follow the court’s order to him to ensure that you comply with those orders. People stealing and misapplying public funds must feel there are consequences for such conduct.

Until then, Ghana will continue to go abroad cup in hand asking the IMF for some GHC 16b when a few people misapply or steal GHC 17b or more each year.

Sir, you would have failed in your anti-corruption mandate, failed Ghana and failed as an individual and head of such an important independent constitutional body. That is My Take.  

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.