28.10.07

995 million cedis down the drain...

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday heard how 2,153 garments, worth ¢995 million, sewn to promote the “National Friday Wear Programme”, were distributed free of charge by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiative to unknown people.
The distribution list could also not be produced for verification by the audit team, an audit report said.The PAC also heard how the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited awarded 14 contracts worth ¢1.4 billion in 2004 through single sourcing, instead of through competitive bidding as provided by Section 43(1) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003.
“To enhance transparency, efficiency, and fair prices in the award of contracts, we recommended to management to apply competitive bidding to all contracts,” the audit report said.Other areas queried by the audit report is the double payment of ¢185.7 million the ministry made to Toyota Ghana Limited for the same repair service it offered the ministry in 2004.The payment of unlawful emolument of ¢122 million between September 2002 and May 2005 to Mr Victor Owusu, Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti Regional Co-ordinator of the Rural Enterprise Development Programme was also queried.
However, Mr Owusu, the report said also enjoyed monthly salary as a full-time employee of the Ghana Energy Commission, within the same period.The report said Mr Owusu enjoyed double salary from the Consolidated Fund, and recommended that his appointment should be terminated and the emolument paid to him recovered.An unexecuted consultancy fee of ¢221 million was paid by the ministry to five consultants it engaged between January and November 2004 to provide business plans for eight districts, within 35 days of their engagement.
The audit report, however, said no business plans had been submitted as at June, 2005 to the ministry by the consultants.The ministry was also queried for its failure to bond a sponsored employee, Mr Kojo Ofori-Safo, who was employed on April 1, 2005 as the Co-ordinator of the Ghana Investors Advisory Council on a monthly salary of 1,500 US Dollars.The audit report said, in June, 2005 barely three months after his appointment, Mr Ofori-Safo gained admission to the University of Ghana Business School.
The report said, the ministry sponsored him and paid his tuition fee of 2,000 US dollars per semester for the 2 years period of his course.It called on the ministry to bond him to serve the ministry on completion of his programme.The PAC was also told about an outstanding Business Assistant Fund Loan of ¢1.3 billion that had been outstanding in the name of five companies since 1996.The report said the ministry contracted M/S Global Consultants for the recovery of the loans but the companies could not be traced except M/S New Kool Bottling, which has since paid ¢20 million out of its outstanding debt of ¢308 million.
The Minister for Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiative Mr Joe Baidoo-Ansah, and his Deputy, Ms Gifty Ohene Konadu, appeared before the PAC to respond to some of the queries.The minister said he had given his accounts clerks one month to produce documents and receipts covering payment of ¢27 million as contingency to some contractors who did not issue receipts to the ministry.On all the queries raised, the minister said most of them have been resolved, and that the ministry will take steps to resolve the rest in due time.
Mr Samuel Sallas-Mensah, chairman of the PAC and most of the bi-partisan PAC members were not satisfied about almost all the explanations the minister and his technocrats gave on the queries raised.“Most of the explanations are not acceptable. By the 15th of November, your accounts officers should retrieve the money or be surcharged,” Mr Sallas-Mensah said.
Source:Times

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