Public servants need continuous training in procurement and financial acts – Avedzi

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, James Klutse Avedzi, is advocating for continuous education for public servants on the procurement and other financial acts and the consequences of not adhering to them.

He said this will guide them on corrupt acts committed in the line of duty.

“Most public servants don’t even have copies of the procurement laws, and they don’t know which law guides them when going into procurement.”

“If we are doing continuous training, they will also know that there are steps in sole-sourcing they need to follow, and there are certain goods that one can go in for sole sourcing. It’s not every item that you do sole sourcing and training and re-training will expose them to all this”, he explained.

James Klutse Avedzi, who is also the MP for Ketu North, spoke to JoyNews on day one of the committee’s five-day sitting on the Auditor-General’s report for 2017 in the Bono Regional capital of Sunyani.

Some heads and accountants of pre-tertiary and tertiary educational institutions appeared before the committee to answer queries on irregularities. The irregularities included cash management, procurement, payroll, contract, and taxes.

Public servants need continuous training in procurement and financial acts to guide corrupt acts – Avedzi
Authorities of Twene Amanfo Secondary Technical School, Sunyani Secondary School, Koase SHS, Wenchi SHS, Nkoranman SHS, Salvation Army SHS, Berekum Presec, Berekum SHS, Sunyani Methodist Technical Institute, Istiqaama SHS, Menji Agric SHS, Notre Dame SHS, Nchiraa SHS, and Diamon SHS made an appearance.

While some headteachers were discharged by the committee after the auditors confirmed that their recommendations, including retrieving monies wrongfully spent, have been adhered to, others needed to provide better evidence.

The headmaster of Sunyani Methodist Technical Institute, Clifford Kofi, was made to produce 10 computers before the committee.

The Auditor-General’s report explained that at Nkoranman SHS, an estimated total fees were collected from 335 students by the headmaster, Joseph Abudu, the accountant, Ransford Boahene, and the secretary to the headmaster, Rebecca Owusu, but not accounted for, amounted to Gh¢579,936.20.

Public servants need continuous training in procurement and financial acts to guide corrupt acts – Avedzi
Also, the bursar purchased five gallons of fuel costing Gh¢100 but altered the figure on the receipt to read Gh¢1,000, and the same amount was paid, leading to misappropriation of Gh¢900.

The auditors attributed the irregularity to the deliberate attempt by the headmaster, accountant, and secretary to manipulate the school’s accounting system for their benefit.

They further recommended that the three be held accountable and the matter be reported to the police for further investigations.

While the current headmaster straggled to profess answers to the queries, Mr James Klutse Avedzi was drawn to the then headmaster and his accountant presence at the sitting unexpected. They were immediately sworn in to testify before the committee.

However, their claims to have refunded the monies could not be corroborated by the auditors.

Public servants need continuous training in procurement and financial acts to guide corrupt acts – Avedzi
The committee chairman deferred the matter for further checks by the auditors and further summoned them to reappear on a later date.

Mr. Avedzi said the committee needs more powers to help make corruption an expensive business.

“I have been calling for some powers to be given to the committee so that when we are on the field and comes across issues like this, we cause their arrest. That will put fear and deter others who may have that idea so that we make corruption an expensive business”, he said.

He also said the committee is working to sit on the 2018 and 2019 Auditor-General’s reports in 2022.

The committee, during the week, will also be considering the report of the Auditor General on the accounts of District Assemblies, the management and utilization of the District Assemblies Common Fund, and other statutory funds for the year 2017.

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