Hon Muhammed Bawa Braimah, Member of parliament (MP) for Ejura-Sekyeredumasi, has said the rate at which public funds are been misappropriated by state institution and workers is alarming.
According to him, the level of unaccountability and other financial infraction identified by the Auditor General in its reports in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the 2016/2017 Auditor Reports are unprecedented in .
Hon Bawah who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee(PAC) of Parliament made these observation after the committee concluded a week long sitting on the AG report of some Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs)
Speaking to THE REPUBLIC on the recents PAC meetings where officers of MDAs were querried on financial infractions following the AG reports, the MP said the regrettable situation was being encouraged by the prevailing fiscal regime where government departments and agencies are allowed to operate accounts with commercial banks.
In his view, the ideal thing would have been a situation where all funds meant for government agencies were lodged with the Central Bank from where they will withdraw funds for their projects.
What is happening in the public sector is that some people will lodge huge sums of money belonging to government at various levels and after a time they would withdraw the interest runs into thousands if not millions of cedis.
This practices to some extend, Mr BAWA said is part of corruption affecting the smooth operation at the public sector workers.
He noted he is in support of PAC position that public officers found to have misappropriated or embezzled funds should be made to refund the amount involved with interest in addition to the institution of the appropriate court action.
Mr Bawah said an accumulated amount of about 1.4 million have been misappropriated or embezzled by public officials between 2016 and 2017, for which reason he called for punitive measure to curb the menace.
The Ministries of Education, Health, and Food and Agriculture were the worst victims of this rape by public officials.
For instance a total of about 43 million cedis and 13 million cedis were noted to have either been misappropriated or embezzled by officials of the Ministry of Health and Education respectively.
Mr Bawa who is also a former Municipal Chief Executive, noted that a major cause of the phenomenon was the lack of supervision over officers entrusted to handle public funds by their superiors to ensure that such moneys were either used for the purposes for which they were intended or paid into public chest.
He explained that another cause of the high rate of misappropriations and embezzlements was that “officers with little or no knowledge in accounting or the. rules governing financial administration in the public service are often made to take charge of such matters as a result of the absence of qualified officers.
“This situation is particularly prevalent within the Regional and District Units. The few qualified officers in these Ministries mostly refuse posting to the rural and deprived areas,” he added.
The Ejura -Sekyredumasi lawmaker said in cases where lapses were detected there was the lack of commitment in applying the required sanctions while the sanctioning regime as stipulated in the Public Financial Management Act and the various finance and accounting instructions were outmoded and not deterrent enough.
What is more worrying, he said is th fact that, where these lapses were detected, the sanctions are either not applied at all, and in some cases the officers are merely transferred to another department to take charge of even higher responsibilities.
He proposed appointing well-qualified officers and equip them with the necessary tools to enable them execute their task, adding that the powers granted these units should also be enhanced and backed by appropriate statute.
The MP stated also that the primary cause of this phenomenon was delays in the release of funds by the Ministry of Finance to meet programmed expenditure of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He stated that sometimes this situation compelled public officers to compromise on the rules governing the financial management of their departments, in order to satisfy urgent and important expenditure.
Nonetheless, Mr Bawa called for strict compliance with all the financial rules and regulations and desist from applying public funds for purposes not provided for by the Appropriations Act.
He said it was very interesting and sad to note that the period every Audit report saw rampant mismanagement and corruption in the MMDAs and others.