Heads To Refund GH¢564.2 Million ‘Looted’ Cash Using 'Ghost' Names

15-05-2020

Heads To Refund GH¢564.2 Million ‘Looted’ Cash Using 'Ghost' Names

The Auditor-General’s Department says it will surcharge officials whose weak supervision over the public payroll caused the country to lose GH¢564.2 million through unearned salaries by employees of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

That action has become necessary following the discovery in a nationwide payroll and personnel verification audit conducted by the department that 7,823 ‘ghost’ employees existed in 21 MDAs.

These unaccounted for employees at the MDAs accounted for GH¢467.6 million of the total unearned salaries.

Additionally, the report said, some 6,307 employees who were declared by their respective institutions as “discontinued” were not terminated promptly by their respective institutions as “discontinued” were not terminated promptly by the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) on the payroll, resulting in the payment of unearned salaries of GH¢87.6 million as of June 2018.

Delayed justice

The audit exercise, which was carried out in 2018, in accordance with Section 16 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584), revealed that out of 522,478 supposed active employees in the MDAs, 7,823 could not be accounted for at the end of the audit in June 2018.

The Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, however, said he had put on hold enforcement regimes to disallow the existence of the ‘ghost’ employees because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

 "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 stressed.

The Daily Graphic has a copy of the audit report, which has already been submitted to Parliament, in compliance with Act 584.

The MDAs

The MDAs that have been cited in the report are the 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.

The rest are Roads and Highways, Transport, Sanitation and Water Resources and Justice and Attorney-General.

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

Account

Highlights of the audit report showed 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, interdiction, on leave of absence, had resigned, were suspended or had vacated post.

The report said the management of the MDAs could, however, not provide any evidence to vouch for the existence of 7,823 of the employees.

Directive

Although the Auditor-General had decided not to act now because of the COVID-19, he urged the CAGD to take immediate 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,” he stressed.

Discrepancies

The Electronic Salary Payment Voucher (E-SPV) platform was introduced to ensure the efficient payment of salaries and avoid double payments.

The report indicated that a review showed that although notifications were made by some management unit heads on the E-SPV platform for some employees to be discontinued, the notifications were ignored by the CAGD, as a result of which the affected individuals were paid unearned salaries.

“Some 6,307 employees who were declared by their respective institutions as ‘discontinued’, for instance, were not terminated promptly by the CAGD on the payroll. This resulted in the payment of unearned salaries of GH¢87,560,632.53 as of June 2018,” it stated.

It added that a review of personal record during a staff enumeration exercise carried out as part of the audit exercise showed a mismatch in the salary grades of some 1,200 employees when compared with their actual grades on their appointment/promotion letters.

It added that the actual grade of 10,034 employees, based on which they received salaries, could not be substantiated.

“These employees failed to present for our inspection their appointment and promotion letters during the enumeration exercise. According to some of the affected employees, mostly Ghana Education Service staff, they were not issued with letters when they were promoted.

“They further stated that they only got to know of their status through the publication of a list of successful candidates by their respective district offices after interviews,” it said.

According to the report, although the biometric verification system served as a pre-condition for the payment of salaries to employees, the names of 202 employees who had not gone through biometric registration were on the payroll.

Fraud

Furthermore, it said 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.

 “Our review showed that the names of 84 employees who had attained the statutory retirement age and had no contract extension were still on the payroll,” it said.

Again, it indicated that an examination of records showed that 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,” it added.

Owing to the failure by the CAGD to act on feedback from respective management heads, some 6,307 employees declared as “discontinued” through the E-SPV system continued to receive unearned salaries, the report said.

Way forward

To ensure that salaries earned by employees were commensurate with their current positions and grades, the Auditor-General recommended that heads of MDAs, together with the CAGD, should ensure that the affected employees were appropriately placed.

“We urge the CAGD to terminate the records of all the discontinued employees on the payroll and ensure the full recovery of all the unearned salaries.

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

Besides, it urged the CAGD to ensure the proper configuration of the payroll system as part of measures to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the Constitution.

“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.

Source: https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/heads-to-refund-gh-564-2m-looted-cash.html

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