The Ministry of Information is seeking the support of the Auditor-General’s (A-G’s) Department to unravel the circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of GH¢1.3 million from the account of the Information Services Department (ISD) between January and October 2017, without any supporting documents to authenticate it.
The said amount was captured in the 2018 A-G’s Report, being considered by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament as unsubstantiated payment.
The report said a review of the cash book of the ISD revealed that between January and October 2017, the management made withdrawals amounting to GH¢1,313,821 without payment vouchers (PVs) and other supporting documents to authenticate the transactions.
It said the transactions were contrary to Regulation 39 of the financial administration regulation 2004 that states that the head of the accounts section of a department shall control the disbursement of funds and ensure that transactions are properly authenticated to show that amounts are due and payable, and that any order for disbursement that does not meet these requirements is rejected.
At the PAC sitting at the Parliament House last Friday, the Information Minister, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who made the appeal for the support of the A-Gs Department, said it would help resolve the matter.
Mr Nkrumah, in his response to the infractions cited in the report against the ISD, a department under his ministry, said the department had written several letters to the A-G’s department to assist with details to follow up on the persons from whom it might have answers.
But, he said, the department was yet to receive the details from the audit service so that it could take follow-up action.
“So, Chairman, we will plead with you: if the audit service can assist us, it will be very easy to find out who signed the cheques for the said amount and for what purpose,” he said
The acting Chief Information Officer of the ISD, Mr David Owusu-Amoah, told the committee that the accountant at post when the said amount was withdrawn had passed on, and that having gone through the records, the service did not find anything to substantiate the payment.
Responding to the question whether or not everything in the office revolved around the deceased accountant, Mr Owusu-Amoah said the new management had put in place measures to forestall a recurrence of the situation, saying: “It was a challenge in those days, but I do not think it is any longer a challenge.”
The Chairman of the PAC, Dr James Klutse Avedzi, after listening to the responses, asked the auditors who conducted the audit to provide the cheque numbers that constituted the GH¢1.3 million.
He also asked the ISD to request for a statement from the bank where the withdrawals were made to cross-check with the cheque numbers that would be provided by the auditors.
That, he said, would definitely reveal the signatories to the account and the purpose for which the money was withdrawn.
“If we have information on that, then we can make progress; without that, it will be difficult,” he noted.
On the amount of GH¢68,845 that was supposed to have been retrieved from the head of accounts and the senior accountant or their salaries embargoed, Mr Nkrumah said three payments had been made, leaving a balance of GH¢28,845, which the deceased accountant promised to pay.
He said consequently, it must be charged on the estate of the late accountant.