Vice Chancellors (VCs) of two public universities yesterday, without any form of notice or excuse, failed to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to answer questions on management issues captured in the Auditor General’s Report for 2015.
Professor John Owusu Gyapong, Vice Chancellor of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) at Ho in the Volta Region, and Rev-Fr Afful-Broni, the acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, in the Central Region, willfully dodged the PAC without any reason.
They were billed, alongside heads of other institutions, under the Ministry of Education, to appear before the committee, together with their management staff, to answer queries on some management issues captured by the AG’s report.
However, when the committee mentioned the respective institutions to take up their seats for them to be questioned, regarding some financial managerial lapses in the Auditor General’s Report, the two VCs were nowhere to be found.
It was not immediately known why the two distinguished professors decided to swerve the Public Accounts Committee meeting, which basically seeks answers to some financial infractions as captured by the AG.
Dr. Sena Kpeglo, Registrar of the University of Health and Allied Sciences, told the committee Prof. Gyapong was not at office at the time the invitation letter was received asking them to appear before the PAC “on Tuesday August 15, 2017.”
According to her, the VC was contacted on phone and informed about the PAC invitation, but she could not tell why he was not present.
She added that, per the communication she had with Prof. Gyapong, it was certain that he would join them in Accra for the meeting with PAC, “but, however, as at 12:23pm while the committee was still sitting, Prof. Gyapong was not present.”
In the case of the University of Education, Dr. Christopher Akwaa-Mensah, Registrar and Secretary to the Governing Council of the University, said the acting Vice Chancellor was fully aware of the meeting with the PAC.
He noted that it was confirmed at the university that Rev Afful-Broni would honour the PAC invitation, but he could not tell as to why the VC could not make it to the meeting, stressing the acting VC has also not contacted to tell him of his inability to come.
Following the development from the two university capos, Chairman for PAC, Mr. James Klutse Avedzi, therefore, issued a stiff warning to the two VCs and others that the committee would not tolerate such dodging attitude by public officers who fail or refuse to honour invitations upon the Auditor General Report.
According to him, the committee has the powers of a High Court in Ghana and that should such attitude persists, the committee would have no other option than to issue a subpoena to compel them to appear and answer questions.
Mr. Avedzi stated that, the committee is just discharging its mandate as established by law and the standing orders of parliament and not to find any fault on management of state institutions and agencies.
“Let me take this opportunity to state again that, we are not here to find fault with anybody’s work; we are here to do our work as the constitution asked us to do, anyone who is appearing before us is a witness, we just want to find out what went wrong.”
“If you appear before us and we find out you did an excellent job, we will praise you; in the same vain if we find out that you have failed or done some errors in some aspects, we will correct you and advise you what to do next. We are just a committee and we are also going to issue our report to parliament and the whole parliament will decide on what we have gathered here to do,” the PAC Chairman stated.
Regarding the affairs of two universities, as captured by the Auditor General’s Report, UHAS has been cited for non-compliance on certain terms and conditions of grant agreements from the Ghana Commercial Bank for the construction of the Administrative Block of the Hohoe Campus.
The report reads,”Contrary to the grant agreement, we observed that the University did not comply with certain terms and conditions specified in the grant agreements.”
“For instance, an amount of GH¢1,000,000 which was received from Ghana Commercial Bank Limited for the construction of an administrative block at the Hohoe Campus of the University, was used to purchase fixed deposits.”
Per the AG’s Report, the University of Education management are also cited for having transferred GH¢20,000.00 from GCB Harper Road to Ecobank, Tanoso Branch, and credited to New Kumasi Account as at 27 October, 2014.
“Our audit disclosed that Kumasi Campus of the University made a transfer of GH¢20,000.00 from Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) Harper Road to Ecobank, Tanoso Branch on July 30, 2012. GCB had debited the UEW account with the amount, but Ecobank had not credited UEW Kumasi Account as at 27 October, 2014.”
“The first follow-up letter was written to GCB about sixteen months after the transfer was made (10th of November, 2013). There was another follow-up letter on the 15September 2014. GCB had not responded to any of the letters. There had not been any letter to Ecobank, the recipient bank yet,” the AG’s report stated.
The Audit Report added, “We recommended that the University should follow up on this transfer and ensure that the defaulting bank pays interest on the amount. The University should also safeguard its cash resources at the Bank.”
Nonetheless, the management of the UEW has accepted the recommendation and promised to ensure that the defaulting bank pays the appropriate interest on the amount for the entire period.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempreh; Minister in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, and Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, were all present and answered questions posed by the committee.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba