Efficiency, Accountability and Integrity

Financial Irregularities decline by GH¢5.2bn in latest Auditor-General’s reports

July 3, 2024

The Auditor-General’s reports for last year have detected financial irregularities to the tune of GH¢11.32 billion in public sector finances.

The amount is, however, a 32 per cent reduction of GH¢5.2 billion over the previous year’s situation where GH¢16.57 billion irregularities were identified. The improvement made in curbing the irregularities was through concerted interventions of various stakeholder institutions, including the implementation of the Auditor-General’s recommendations by the auditees, the government’s timely release of funds to the Audit Service, and swift action by Parliament on audit reports.

Although the reduction in irregularities is appreciable, the country is still not out of the woods as GH¢11.32 billion irregularities recorded in six different Auditor-General’s reports in 2023 alone is a substantial amount of money that could have been applied appropriately to support national development.

Time frame

The Auditor-General, Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, told the Daily Graphic in Accra last Monday that so far 13 reports on the 2023 accounts had been submitted to Parliament within the time frame required by the 1992 Constitution.

“So, on June 27, 2024, we submitted 13 reports to Parliament within the timeframe required by the 1992 Constitution and we will soon submit other Performance Audit Reports,” he said.

Mr Asiedu explained that the reports highlighted irregularities and weaknesses in the internal control systems of some public sector entities.

He said the total financial irregularities reported in last year’s reports amounted to GH¢11.32 billion, made up of cash, unrecovered debts, procurement, payroll, tax, stores and contract irregularities.

“We saw a decline in irregularities reported over the previous year’s figure of GH¢16.57 billion, a significant reduction of over GH¢5.2 billion or 32 per cent,” the Auditor-General added.

Six reports

Mr Asiedu stated that the irregularities were uncovered in six reports on ministries, departments and agencies; public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions, and technical universities and colleges of education.

The rest are pre-university educational institutions; management and utilisation of the District Assemblies Common Fund and other statutory funds; and district assemblies’ internally generated funds (IGFs).

The Auditor-General said the irregularities captured in the public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions, for instance, reduced from GH¢15.06 billion in 2022 to GH¢8.79 billion in 2023.

“Similarly, the irregularities for management and utilisation of the District Assemblies Common Fund and other statutory funds dropped from GH¢53.64 million in 2022 to GH¢49.65 million, while that of pre-university educational institution declined from GH¢7.64 million in 2024 to GH¢7.48 million in 2023,” he added.

Public boards report

Irregularities committed by public boards, however, increased from GH¢5.47 billion in 2019 to GH¢12.86 billion in 2020 and from GH¢4.63 billion in 2021 to GH¢17.48 billion in 2023.

“In 2022, the total irregularities decreased by 13.9 per cent from the 2021 figure of GH¢17.48 billion to GH¢15.06 billion,” he said. “During the period ending December 31, 2023, the total irregularities recorded a decrease of 41.6 per cent or GH¢6.26 billion from GH¢15.06 billion in 2022 to a total irregularities figure of GH¢8.80 billion,” Mr Asiedu added.

The Auditor-General said except for procurement and contract irregularities, all the other irregularity types decreased in 2023, compared with the 2022 financial year, even though 135 institutions were audited and reported on in that year, as against 113 institutions audited and reported on in 2022.

The 2023 irregularities of GH¢8.80 billion comprised a recoverable amount of GH¢8.73 billion and administrative infractions of GH¢66.81 million, Mr Asiedu said.

The Auditor-General further explained that administrative irregularities were made up of procurement irregularities and other procedural infractions and lapses in public financial management.

He stressed, however, that “these administrative irregularities do not connote loss of funds”.

“Out of the total irregularities of GH¢8.79 billion, the recoverable amount of GH¢8.73 billion represents 99.24 per cent. The administrative portion of GH¢66.81 million was irrecoverable and was made up of procurement and other irregularities representing 0.76 per cent.

Recoverable amount

Mr Asiedu stated that the recoverable amount constituted inter-governmental agencies debts, other overdue receivables, locked up investments, unpaid taxes, unretired imprest, advances and loans given to employees of various institutions.

He said the administrative irregularities comprised infractions that arose from procurement irregularities, overdue payables, and the payment of penalties due to delayed payments to suppliers.

“We recommend strict implementation of our recommendations to ensure financial discipline in the management of public resources,” Mr Asiedu indicated.

The Auditor-General expressed appreciation to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament for its timely consideration of the reports and enforcing them.

“I also thank the government and the Ministry of Finance for the timely release of funds to enable me and my office to discharge our mandate imposed by the Constitution,” Mr Asiedu added.

Source: Graphiconline