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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

OccupyGhana sends strong message to Auditor-General

OccupyGhana, a pressure group, says it is disappointed in the Auditor-General’s failure to issue surcharges in the 2019 and 2020 Auditor-General’s report.

Both reports did not issue any surcharge and disallowances, and according to OccupyGhana, that constitutes contempt of the Supreme Court and a High Crime.

“We write to demand that you forthwith issue disallowances and surcharges to all persons you have identified as having been either engaged in or responsible for the illegal use of government funds in your 2019 and 2020 Audit Reports.

“This is because you are bound to do so, and any omission constitutes both contempt of the Supreme Court and a high crime under the Constitution,” it said.

OccupyGhana, under whose name the seminal OccupyGhana v Attorney General was decided, the case which reaffirmed the powers of the Auditor-General to issue surcharges and disallowance after its audits, says it is surprised that despite the reports from the Auditor-General being “replete” with irregularities leading to loss of State of funds, disallowances and surcharges had not been ordered.

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“The Reports are replete with ‘irregularities’ that have led to the loss of huge amounts of government funds, which article 187(7)(b) of the Constitution calls (i) ‘expenditure which is contrary to law,’ (ii) sums ‘not been duly brought into account and (iii) ‘loss or deficiency [through] negligence or misconduct.’’

“Sir, once you determined these had taken place, you did not have any discretion: you must disallow and surcharge. In 2017, the Supreme Court held in OCCUPYGHANA v ATTORNEY GENERAL that the exercise of your power to disallow and the surcharge is ‘mandatory, and no longer permissive,’ and could no longer be ‘at the whims and caprices of the Auditor-General.’’

Therefore, the group is demanding immediate issuance of surcharge and disallowances in instances where such orders can be made in 2019, and 2020 Auditor General reports where irregularities have been identified.

Some watchers, including leading OccupyGhana members and anti-corruption campaigners, have expressed worry that the powers of the Auditor General to issues surcharges and disallowances seem to have exited with Daniel Domelovo who was forced to retire by the presidency.

Under the tenure of Daniel Domelovo as Auditor-General, many disallowances and surcharges were ordered, including one against then Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo, an order which was overturned later by a court.

Under acting Auditor-General Johnson Akuamoah, no surcharge and disallowance have been issued.

Mr Akuamoah has since been confirmed as the substantive Auditor-General by President Nana Akufo-Addo.

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