— James Avedzi Urges Ghanaians
… As It Retrieves GH₵61,000 From GHS, Chases Auctioneer For More
The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Dr. James Klutse Avedzi, has urged Ghanaians to build confidence in the work of the committee as it began sitting for public sector accountability.
According to him, due to the diligent work of the committee, an amount of GHc61,000 has been paid into the Non-Tax Revenue Accounts (NTRA) of the Ministry Finance by the Ghana Health Service being proceeds from auctioned vehicles of the state.
The committee, he said, will continue to do diligent work to ensure that any amount of money due to the state is paid into the government purse, irrespective of the person or organization involved
Dr. Avedzi disclosed this to the Parliamentary press when officials of the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) appeared before the committee in parliament in Accra yesterday.
The officers appeared before PAC to answer questions on Performance Audit Report of the Auditor General on the Disposal of Government Vehicles by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service.
There had been public perception that the committee does not do any meaningful work for the state and that state agencies and individual public officers who misappropriated state funds are often left off the hook after the work of the committee.
But the chairman of PAC said that assertion by the public could not be accurate, because, due to the work of PAC, huge sums of money which would have been in the individual’s pocket or an agency have been retrieved to the state after due diligent work of the committee.
“Our friends from the media, let it be known that, the perception out in the public domain that this committee does not good job and that our work is not of any use will no longer holds. Let me inform you that, due to our seriousness attached to this, an amount of sixty one thousand cedis have been paid into the Non Tax Revenue Account of the Ministry of Finance by the Ghana Health Services.”
“This means that our work is not useless as people out there look at it. Had it not been our work, this sixty one thousand would have remained in the accounts of Ghana Health Service, but now this money is in government account and could be used to pay workers and fund other developments,” Dr. Avedzi stated.
However, at the committee sitting, it was discovered that an Auction Company, “Shelter Mart,” in Accra, has failed to account for the proceeds of auctioned vehicles of government.
The committee declared that the auctioneer, Shelter Mart, which flopped to reason for the sale of some vehicles on behalf of the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service in 2014 be made to appear before it at its next sitting.
According to the reports, this came to light throughout the committee’s analysis of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Auditor General’s report on the Disposal of Government Vehicles by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service.
Shelter Mart, per the Auditor’s Report, after successfully selling off the cars, had failed to deliver the Health Ministry and the GHS with the proceeds from the sale.
Mr. Kofi Opoku, Director of Administration and Support Services of the Ministry of Health, said attempts on several occasion to have the money proved futile, hence the auctioneer of Shelter Mart was referred to the police under the advice of the previous PAC.
He said, the police confirmed several times of investigating the matter, stating that prior to the notice to appear before the committee, Shelter Mart was contacted, but he indicated that he was with local Herbal Centre at Aflao in the Volta Region, and will be discharged on or before next week, 4th May, 2017.
Mr. Opoku narrated how the auctioneer failed to account over for GHc34,000 and had dodged them since 2014.
He expressed that, “we contacted him about his appearing before PAC, but he said he cannot for he is at a Healing Centre. We informed the police but the investigator said he was not available.”
A member of the committee, Sam George Nartey, expressed reservation on the conduct of the auctioneer and said, it was better proceeds from the auction were received by the state agency and paid directly into NTRA rather than the auctioneer doing that after auctioning the cars.
Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of Ghana Health Service, also withdrew a letter purported to have endorsed the report as accurate, citing discrepancies and asked for time to come back with accurate figures.
Shelter Mart, according to evidence submitted to the PAC, withheld proceeds of over GH₵34,000 after the auction of the government vehicles, including a Mitsubishi Ambulance that was auctioned at a bizarre price of GHc350.00 and still failed to pay the proceeds into the Non Tax Revenue Accounts.
The Director General of GHS said, the short-listing of auction Marts is usually done at the Presidency and that the Ministry or the GHS has no control over their selection.
Nonetheless, he explained that due to the poor record performance, Shelter Mart has since been blacklisted from its auction partners.
It is part of government agencies’ policies to auction to dispose of some vehicles it deemed unserviceable and with high maintenance cost to make room for new and improved models of vehicles.
These vehicles include double cabin pickups, station wagons, saloon cars, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), buses, ambulances and motorbikes.
The audit was carried on between the period 2011 and 2013 as captured in the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the disposal of government vehicles
But the Auditor-General, in its report, cited Shelter Mart and officials of the Ministry of Health, as well as the Ghana Health Service, for non-compliance to the guidelines on the Disposal on Goods and Equipment.
For instance, the audit revealed that some the vehicles were sold to staff of MoH and GHS an act which was contrary to Section 1.8 of the Guidelines for Disposal of Goods and Equipment which states that “in the interest of promoting probity, fair dealing and openness, Procurement Entities must not sell assets to staff unless arising from a public competitive process.”
But Mr. Opoku, in his response at the committee, indicated that the staff participated as Ghanaians even though the vehicles were already allocated to some staff of MoH and GHS as well as the prices at which they were to be sold before he commenced his task.
The report also indicated that the auctioneer did not advertise the auctions as stipulated in the Guidelines for Disposal of Goods and Equipment.
The allocation of vehicles to staff by MoH and GHS, the report added, reduced the scope of work of the auctioneer as he did not advertise the auctions at any cost.
Some members of PAC, who were not enthused with the explanation by the directors from MoH and GHS, urged them to prepare to face the consequences that may come their way as a result of their actions.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba