Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, has charged the media in the country to disseminate accurate and factual information relating to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament in order that people easily relate to developments and challenges in the country.
According to him, false information does not only harm the credibility of the work of the Public Accounts Committee but also violates the law.
Mr. Avedzi made the remarks in reaction to some media reportage that money accrued from the 10 percent salary cut, initiated by former President John Dramani Mahama and his appointees for the construction of Community Health Improvement Services (CHIPS) compounds, could not be accounted for.
Several of the media outlets that covered proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee meeting on Wednesday, this week, reported that the Deputy Controller and Accountant General, Kwasi Owusu, made a revelation before the committee that the funds realized from the previous government appointees were released to the Executive, via former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah.
Mr. Owusu has been quoted by the media that, “When the policy was initiated by the government, we were holding the money in trust. Subsequently, they decided that we should bring the money to them.”
“So as and when we deduct from the payroll, it goes directly to the owner of the money and that is why in 2015, we didn’t see anything at all because the money was not meant for government.”
Mr. Owusu allegedly stated further that the action was sanctioned by the Executive, which “wrote that we should release the money and we released the money accordingly… let’s say [the letter was] from the Chief of Staff.”
The Auditor General, in his report on the Public Accounts Committee for the year ended December 2015 captured that over GHc800,000 was accrued in 2014 but the report failed to state the amount for 2015 and 2016.
Hon. Kennedy Kankam, Member of Parliament for Nhiyeaso and member of the PAC, who first raised the issue at the PAC meeting, was also reported to have alleged to the media that due process was not followed in transferring the deductions to the Chief of Staff’s office.
He is further reported in the media to have indicted the Deputy Controller General for being adamant on the matter, for he (KennedyKankam) is aware some money was paid into and withdrawn from the consolidated fund without recourse to constitutional provisions.
The Nhiyeaso MP also alleged that in 2014, GHc896,457 was said to have been paid into the consolidated fund and “it was proper to find out where that money went to, how the money was taken from the consolidated fund and who took that money from the consolidated fund.”
According to Mr. Kankam, “So far as the money was captured into the consolidated accounts, you need to invoke Article 178 of Ghana’s Constitution and the relevant regulations before you can withdraw money from the accounts.”
But the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament described the reportage as “misleading and inaccurate” and stressed on the importance of the media to be familiar with the processes and issues emerging from PAC meetings.
He expressed his dissatisfaction over the negative reports on the 10 per cent deduction from the former government appointees, stating, that “most of the stories and news on the Controller Accountant’s statement before this committee is inaccurate.”
“I think the media have to be circumspect, you can hold this nation to ransom with these negative reports that go out to the public. If you do not understand something verify it and seek more information and facts,” he cautioned.
Mr. Avedzi noted that, in as much as the media has a role to play in developmental issues, media practitioners ought to be circumspect and exhibit a sense of objectivity when reporting on issues of national concern and other sensitive issues.
The voluntary austerity move was announced by the Mahama administration in the 2014 State of the Nation Address.
The pay-cut which summed up to a total of Ghc2,190,718.30 had been deducted as of the end of December, 2016 and a total of Ghc2,130,718.30 had been paid to contractors who had either completed or are working on the CHPS compounds.
The amount was deposited in a special account recommended by the former president to be used for the construction of Community-based Health Planning and Services compounds or CHPS compounds.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba