The Audit Service and OccupyGhana, a Civil Society Organisation, have jointly organised a maiden public lecture to mark the 2nd anniversary of the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of Ghana which consolidated the Auditor General’s powers to surcharge and disallow expenditures which are contrary to law.
The theme for the lecture was “From Surcharging to Safeguarding: Next Steps in the Fight to Protect the Public Purse”. The lecture sort to herald the gains made since the ruling.
The A-G lauded OccupyGhana for leading the legal processes that empowers the Auditor-General to perform his duties. Mr. Domelevo said the decisions taken by the Supreme Court on 14 June, 2017 to allow the Auditor-General to disallow and surcharge has become a legal reference for Supreme Audit Institutions in Africa and beyond.
Mr. Domelevo said that a practical way of fighting corruption is effective collaboration between the public, private and civil society organisations and the Audit Service has been privileged to benefit from these avenues. Firstly, the Legislature and the Executive have been very supportive in providing the needed resources. Mr. Domelevo also commended the Chief Justice for dedicating four courts to hear all appeals against the A-G’s disallowance and surcharge. The civil society including OccupyGhana has thrown a challenge to the Audit Service. He praised staff of the Audit Service for being committed and dedicated public servants, demonstrating that public servants can deliver excellent public service to citizens. He thanked the public for providing information that is helping in conducting special audits and urged them to continue providing such information as part of their civic responsibility in the fight against corruption.
The A-G informed the pubic that the Audit Service’s reporting goes through several processes which give the audited entity the opportunity to respond before a disallowance and/or surcharge certificate is issued. However, the A-G added that those aggrieved by a disallowance and/or surcharge should refer to the Constitutional Instrument 2017 (C.I. 102) which prescribes how persons aggrieved by a disallowance and/or a surcharge could appeal against the A-G’s decision.
Mr Domelevo informed the public that the Audit Service is embarking on a country-wide survey of institutions on assets and liabilities declaration. In addition, he said that the Service had started a procurement-, construction- or road- audits as well as introduced a payroll audit. The A-G remarked that “…heads of institutions that have ghost names on their payroll will be disallowed and surcharged because Regulation 297 of the Financial Administration Act mandates the head of institution to ensure that people paid on your payroll are people working for you”, he reiterated. The A-G said the Service is exploring all these avenues to protect the public purse.
On safeguarding the public purse, he said the Audit Service has adopted Audit Management Information Systems to take advantage of technology as a tool to prevent corruption. This automation system will give the Audit Service access to the systems that audited entities are using.
The occasion brought together key personalities including the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, H. E. Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Supreme Court Judge, Justice Jones Dotse,, Special Prosecutor Mr. Martin B. A. Amidu, and a Legal Practitioner, Ace Kojo Ankomah of Occupy-Ghana. A cross section of Ghanaians including heads of public and private institutions also participated in the lecture.