…As Auditor General Report raises financial infractions
Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, has said going forward in the coming years, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) will depart from doling out money as a banker or financier for other government entities.
According to him, the practice whereby the GNPC used to dole out financial guarantee or give out sponsorships to non-oil related entities, like the Black Stars, the national football team, is an unhealthy one and the corporation may disband such practices.
The corporation, he explained, has over the years sponsored non- oil entities, such as the Black Stars and others, which has no any direct benefit to its core mandate, hence the move to stay away from bank-rolling such entities.
Mr. Agayrko made the observation, when he led heads of state institutions under his supervisory ministry to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in Accra yesterday.
The Auditor General’s Report on the GNPC and others covering the period of 2014/2015 raised certain financial infractions into the financial transaction of incomes and expenditure of the corporation.
The other state institutions under the Ministry of Energy that appeared before the Public Accounts Committee were Energy Commission, Bui Power Authority (BPA), GRIDCo and Volta River Authority (VRA).
GNPC became the national football team’s sponsor in 2013 and has supported the team with an amount of USD3 million yearly.
Answering a question posed to the Minister of Energy as to whether the GNPC under his supervision would sponsor the Black Stars in the next year’s World Cup, as it has done over the years, Mr. Agyarko said the GNPC, acting as a banker or financier for other government entities raises liability issues that might not be addressed legally.
In his view, such entities must develop whereby government entities could stand on their own rather than depending on GNPC bankrolling, stressing, “The comingling of assets from different entities certain contingent liability is not a healthy practice.”
He added that, a situation where a minister has had to instruct GNPC to proceed and provide financial leverage is not the best; however, if it must be, then there should be legal documents backing and stating the objectives.
Before the commencement of the hearing, Mr. Agyarko told the committee that he had brought all the chief executives of the institutions cited in the Auditor General’s Report to answer for their actions.
He, nonetheless, intermittently explained to the committee the steps his ministry had taken to correct some of the anomalies detected in the report.
Mr. K. K. Sarpong, Chief Executive Officer of GNPC, answered questions on financial infractions posed by members of the committee as captured by the AG’s Report.
For instance, he told the PAC that some of the Auditor-General’s recommendations are being implemented and that steps are also being taken to address some of the financial irregularities captured by the report.
Most prominent issues that arose from the PAC meeting with the GNPC were financial and physical assets of Ghana at the Jubilee Oil Field, indebtedness, breach of contracts and other transactions and expenditures, which the committee found very unacceptable.
Portion of the Auditor General Report captured an amount of GHS152.7 million which it described as long standing debtors has not been paid as far back as 2014.
With a heading, “Long Outstanding Debtors – GHS152.7million, the report read, “We observed that 80% of the company trade receivable tax are over sixty(60) days contrary to the laid down policy.”
“We further noticed that, out of the GHS224.5 million, owed by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to the company (GNPC), 68% of this balance goes over 60 days past due as at 31st December, 2014,” the report captured.
The committee also questioned GNPC over the amount of money paid to the PricewaterhouseCoopers(PwC) for transaction advisory, which the committee deemed ballooning and unacceptable.
Nonetheless, Mr. Sarpong pleaded that he had taken steps since the Auditor General’s Report was out to correct some by implementing some of the financial infractions, emphasizing that, GNPC has over 14 professional accountants who he intends tasking them to ensure that all the infractions identified are corrected.
The PAC, which is chaired by Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, Member of Parliament for Ketu North and Deputy Minority Leader of Parliament, also queried the GNPC and its CEO as to why most of its vehicles are not registered with number plates as Government Vehicles (GV).
But the CEO said, the corporation has preventive measures and therefore installed electronic tracking system which would help reduce any fear of theft by criminals and abuse of use by drivers.
The GNPC also assured the committee that steps would be taken to ensure that all partners at the Jubilee Field which include Anadarko, Kosmos, EO Groups, Sabre Oil and Tullow, as leading partners, bear parts of the auditing expenses to reduce the burden on its financial desk.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba