The Youth Employment Agency says it has deleted the names of 16,839 from its 63,000 beneficiaries payroll after an audit found their employment to have been tainted with fraud.
Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Justin Frimpong, said at a news conference Wednesday, the shed human resource weight has saved the more than 20 million cedis.
The deletion follows an audit of the Agency's human resource over the past four months. This became necessary after the YEA said it had detected some discrepancies on the beneficiary payroll.
It said it found out during the payments that some beneficiaries were using the same E-zwich numbers. It also said it noticed huge arrears as a result of the non-payment of some beneficiaries since May 2016.
In a statement last April, the Agency said it had suspended the payment of allowance to beneficiaries to allow for a full audit.
Mr. Frimpong said the audit has found, beneficiaries of the YEA had vacated post but were still earning allowance.
Some of the affected persons also had no appointment letters while some of the letters did not have signature of CEO.
Some letters had the signatures of the CEO faked, Justice Frimpong said explaining the letters had his signature even before he was appointed.
The employees on some schemes were also found to have been above the YEA's age requirements
He revealed his commitment to implementing the recommendations of the audit report which includes a call to strengthen the internal control mechanisms.
There will be pre-monthly validations before allowances are paid. All payments are to pass through the internal audit for pre-auditing before payment is effected.
READ FULL YEA STATEMENT
PRESS STATEMENT ON THE STATE OF THE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AGENCY ADDRESSED BY THE ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER ON THE 7TH OF JUNE, 2017 AT THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION
Ladies and Gentleman of the press, on behalf of our sector ministry, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, I bring you greetings from our Minister, Honourable Ignatius Baffour Awuah.
This Press Conference is essentially meant to give a situational report of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) and the preliminary steps undertaken by the new management in consultation with the sector ministry in order to make the Agency more effective in the delivery of its mandate.
The Youth Employment Agency, is the Agency responsible for development, coordination, supervision and facilitation of employment for the youth of our country. The Agency was established in 2006 as National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) primarily to support the Ghanaian youth through skills training and internship modules with the view to transiting them from a regime of unemployment to that of employment.
In 2012, the government of Ghana renamed the Agency from NYEP to Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) and later to its current name, Youth Employment Agency (YEA) under the Youth Employment Act 2015 (Act 887) with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations having a supervisory role.
The State of the Agency
The current management was bequeathed with about 63,000 beneficiaries across the country. Upon a cursory audit of this figure in respect of the payroll system, we observed a number of discrepancies. For instance, the January payroll which was submitted to us for approval included arrears to some beneficiaries as far back as May 2016. We also observed that 2,999 beneficiaries, who had vacated their post continued to draw allowance.
In view of these anomalies, the Agency suspended the payment of beneficiary allowance in order to conduct a comprehensive audit into the beneficiary payroll. This decision was duly communicated to the beneficiaries and the general public via a statement issued by the management on February 19, 2017.
The deletion of the 2,999 beneficiaries from the payroll saved the nation as much as four million, two hundred and seventy thousand, eight hundred cedis (GH¢ 4,270,800) for the four months’
period. In effect, for each month, the taxpayer was saved an amount of one million, sixty-seven thousand and seven hundred cedis (GH¢ 1,067,700) which would have gone into wrong hands.
On the basis of these mind-blowing revelations, management commissioned the Internal Audit Agency to conduct a special audit into the operations of the Agency, specifically in 45 selected districts across the country and the regional offices.
Findings of the Draft Report of the Internal Audit Agency
a. Payments of unearned allowances to beneficiaries not at post amounted to one million, two hundred and forty-seven thousand, three hundred cedis (GH¢1,247,300)
b. Funds meant for official use paid into personal accounts or disbursed in cash amounted to five million, four hundred and thirty-three, two hundred and sixty-one cedis (GH¢5,433,261)
c. Supporting documents for payments not sighted amounted to one million, seven hundred and eighty-nine thousand, one hundred and ninety-one cedis (GH¢1,789,191)
d. Procurement without adherence to due process amounted to eighty-five thousand, five hundred and sixty-three cedis (GH¢85,563)
e. Discrepancies between data generated from the YEA portal and data obtained from the District Offices
f. Beneficiaries recruited without appointment letters / Appointment Letters not signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) among others.
Furthermore, management, through the Monitoring and Evaluation unit conducted a PHYSICAL VERIFICATION of beneficiaries in each of the 216 districts in the country since the work of the Internal Audit Agency was limited to 45 districts as noted earlier.
Findings of the physical verification exercise conducted by management
1. 2,716 beneficiaries did not have appointment letters but the Agency was paying an amount of eight hundred and fourteen thousand, eight hundred cedis GHc814,800.00 every month to them. This translates into three million two hundred and fifty-nine thousand two hundred cedis (Ghc3,259,200.00) for the four months (February to May, 2017).
2. 9,442 beneficiaries were above the age requirement. This amounts to two million eight hundred and thirty-two thousand, six hundred cedis (GHc2,832,600.00) every month. Therefore, in four months (February-May, 2017) the Agency would have paid eleven million, three hundred and thirty thousand, four hundred cedis (GHc11,330,400.00)
3. 4,681 beneficiaries have vacated post. This means the Agency was paying one million four hundred and four thousand three hundred cedis (GHc1,404,300.00) every month. Therefore, the Agency would have paid five million, six hundred and seventeen thousand, two hundred cedis (GHc 5,617,200.00) for four months.
4. 11,512 beneficiaries were without assumption of duty letters. This amounts to three million, four hundred and fifty-three thousand, six hundred cedis (Ghc3,453,600.00) per month. For the four months (February-May,2017) the Agency would have paid thirteen million, eight hundred and fourteen thousand, four hundred cedis (GHc13,814,400.00).
5. 14,443 non-existing beneficiaries. This amounts to four million three hundred and thirty-two thousand, nine hundred cedis (GHc4,332,900.00) per month. In four months (Febraury-May,2017), the Agency would have paid seventeen million, three hundred and thirty-one thousand six hundred cedis (Ghc17,331,600.00)
So per the physical verification exercise undertaken by management in respect of the first three anomalies, a total of 16,839 beneficiaries have been deleted from the payroll and this has saved the taxpayer as much as twenty million, two hundred and six thousand, eight hundred cedis (Gh¢20,206,800).
However, in respect of the last two (i.e. beneficiaries without assumption of duty letters and non-existing beneficiaries), management has giving itself, a month to address issues regarding their status.
As part of the physical verification exercise conducted by management, we observed that some district directors connived with some beneficiaries to partake in the verification exercise knowing very well that they have vacated post. I can assure all of you that further investigations will be conducted and those found culpable will be dealt with within the remit of the law.
Again, it was detected that some appointment letters were issued purportedly to have been signed by the acting CEO, when indeed same never happened.
Additionally, some appointment letters were issued bearing the signature of the outgone CEO between March and April, at which time he was not in office. These among others will also be investigated and the necessary action taken thereafter.
Way forward for YEA under the new management
As a way of dealing with the challenges that have plagued the Agency over the period, management in consultation with the sector ministry have resolved to strengthen the internal
control mechanism including the introduction of a pre-monthly validation policy before payments. We have also engaged more monitoring assistants for this purpose.
Management has decided that all payments must pass through the internal audit unit for pre-auditing before same is effected.
In our quest to position the Agency to effectively perform its core mandate and to avoid future occurrence of the aforementioned challenges, the Agency is embarking on staff movement within department, units, districts and the regions.
Management in due will be referring matters involving alleged fraud and other impropriety to the appropriate security agencies for the necessary actions.
In spite of the aforementioned challenges, the Agency, under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations still remains committed to fulfilling its core mandate of providing employment opportunities to the nation’s youth and would in the coming days, inform the general public of modules that would be rolled out.