It will be recalled that after months of unproductive engagement with the Auditor-General’s Department and the Government with respect to the demand by OccupyGhana® for the exercise of the powers of Disallowance and Surcharge under article 187 of the Constitution, and sections 18 and 19 of the Audit Service Act, OccupyGhana® was compelled to file an action in the Supreme Court against the Government.
The powers of Disallowance and Surcharge allow the Auditor-General to commence the recovery of public funds that are illegally spent or lost through negligence or misconduct. These powers have never been exercised by the Auditor-General.
That matter is ripe for hearing.
However, yesterday, 11th January 2017, OccupyGhana® was invited to a meeting with the new Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo. At that meeting, Mr. Domelevo expressed a desire, not for a continued court fight, but to work with us in the exercise of Disallowance and Surcharge powers.
It turns out that this Auditor-General so believes in the exercise of Disallowance and Surcharge powers by the Auditor-General, that he managed to get the Zambian Government to pass a law, the Public Audit Act, 2016 (No. 29 of 2016), sections 26 and 27 of which are a near-verbatim reproduction of sections 18 and 19 of Ghana’s Audit Service Act. He bemoaned the fact that although Ghana has had such powerful and far-reaching provisions in both our Constitution and legislation, we have never implemented them, and audit reports have been reduced to a mere “journalistic report of events” with no teeth to bite. Meanwhile other countries were willing to accept those provisions and use them. He revealed Malawi was also in the process of adopting similar provisions as part of its laws.
The Auditor-General stated that he intended to establish a special task force to review all available, previous Audit Reports, and reveal instances where the powers of Disallowance and Surcharge may be applied as a first step to recover lost public funds from offending persons.
Although this is just one meeting, and although our previous meetings and engagements with the Government and the Auditor-General’s Department were frustrating and did not yield much, we are somehow optimistic that this initial engagement with the new Auditor-General will be a sign of great things to come with respect to Disallowance and Surcharges. OccupyGhana® will not rest until the day when the first Disallowances and Surcharges are issued by the Auditor-General. Then we will commence pressure on the office of the Attorney-General to enforce those Surcharges and recover the lost funds. We are convinced that this will be a major way to plug the leakage and wastage in the public sector and ensure that public funds neither line individual pockets nor are treated with reckless abandon; but will be available for use to improve the lives of the citizens of Ghana.
If the new Auditor-General is prepared to carry this through, we will pledge our unflinching support to help him achieve this goal.
Yours, for God and Country,