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Ministry of local gov’t to refund GH¢285k into gov’t chest

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Mr Daniel Botwe-Minister for local gov't

A Covid-19 expenditure report put together by the Auditor-General has revealed that the head office of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) used funds meant to be expended on Covid-19 activities to pay for security services,purchase of curtains and prepaid units, as well as other unrelated activities.

Pages 59 to 61 of the report indicates that an amount of GH¢4,500,000.00 was released to the head office to undertake Covid-19 activities when Ghana was hit with the pandemic, but a whopping GH¢285,135.64 was misapplied for the purchase of items and carrying out activities that had no correlation with Covid-19.

“We noted during examination of payment records that out of the GH¢4,500,000.00 allocated to Headquarters, payments totaling GH¢285,135.64 were made for transactions, which were not COVID-19 related,” the report said.

The report, which captures the country’s Covid-19 expenditures from March 2020 to June 2022 noted that out of the GH¢285,135.64 – an amount of GH¢27,057.02 was used in the purchase of curtains for some rooms while an amount of GH¢50, 000.00 out of the total money was also used to pay ECG for the purchase of prepaid units on different dates.

Part of it totaling GH¢1,200 was expended as refund, in respect of cost incurred in repairs of an official vehicle, while GH¢36,240.00 constituted payment of allowances to the Audit Committee for its second quarter retreat, which was to be held on 18th & 19th June 2020.

It was also disclosed that GH¢100,000 was expended as funds of outstanding commitment to DDF, while some officers who participated in an advance  data visualisation capacity training from 31 August to 4 September 2020 also received 38,000 out of the total amount.

Additionally, an amount of GH¢10,069.31 was expended on guard services for the months of July, August, and September 2020 and same amount was captured as payment of security services for the months of October, November and December 2020 respectively.

The final item was an amount of GH¢12, 500.00  released from the funds to organise a two-day training programme for selected staff from 5th- 6th January 2021.

The report noted that the irregularity defeats the purpose for which the funds were intended and constitute misapplication of funds and hence directed that the Chief Director should ensure the refund of GH¢285,135.64 to the Auditor-General’s Recoveries account.

“The anomaly defeats the purpose for which the funds were intended, and this resulted in misapplication of COVID-19 funds.

“We recommended that the Chief Director should ensure the refund of GH¢285,135.64 to the Auditor-General’s Recoveries account,” the report indicated.

It, however, noted that management of the Head Office did not disagree with the infractions. The report said the group indicated that they would comply with the recommendation to refund the amount under consideration into the Auditor-General’s Recoveries account.

Meanwhile, the auditors also directed the Chief Director of the Local Government Services, an institution under the MLGRD to take steps to recover unspent funds of GH3¢4,012.75 from his outfit and transfer same to the Auditor-General Recoveries Account.

The amount, according to the auditors, constitute the balance of an amount of GH¢200,000.00 – which was given to the LGS to carry out covid-19 related activities.

According to the auditors, GH¢165,387.25 while the remaining amount sat in accounts of the institution as at 28 September 2022

The Covid-19 expenditure report is a special audit report prepared under Section 16 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584) for submission to Parliament.It was prepared based on request from the Ministry of Finance.

Aside the MLGRD, other ministries and agencies who were captured in the report as result of infractions committed in the expending the Covid-19 funds were the Finance Ministry, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the National Buffer Stock Company and many more.

AGNES ANSAH

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