GHS officials plead for clemency for breaching auction regulation

The participants after the workshop. Photo Michael Ayeh (2)

It was another day of pleas for forgiveness and clemency when officers of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in Accra yesterday.
It was a reminiscent of Wednesday’s appearance by officials of the Agriculture Ministry who also pleaded to be forgiven for breaching the processes that guide auctions of state property.
The officials of the GHS appeared before the PAC on day three of its sitting to answer questions on the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General (A-G) on the disposal of the service’s vehicles.
Among other things found by the A-G in his report were violation of the Audit Sales Law and the Public Financial Management Act.
According to the audit report of 2012, even before the auctions were advertised in a national newspaper with nationwide coverage, the items up for sale which included vehicles and motorbikes had already been sold to staff of the service.
It was also revealed at the sitting that an amount GH¢ 116, 400 realised from the auction, was only paid into the Non Tax Revenue Account (NTRA) of the Bank of Ghana on Monday, April 24, 2017.
This was after the GHS had been invited by the PAC for query; situation members of the parliamentary committee viewed as deceptive and lacked the commitment of the Service to adhere to due process.
The officer of the GHS who paid the money into the NTRA was readily not known. It was also observed by the Auditor-General that a GH¢ 34,000 balance of the auction was yet to be paid by the auctioneer, Shelter Mart.
The A-G in paragraph 68 of its report stated that the “GHS did not carry out the disposal of government vehicles in a fair, transparent and a competitive manner by ensuring that the disposal of the vehicles was advertised and open for the participation of the public.”
Though a letter signed by the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, disputed the findings of the Auditor-General, he withdrew the letter at the sitting and accepted the findings of the A-G and apologised for the breaches.
“Mr Chairman, we are sorry,” Dr Nsiah-Asare, who ‘parried’ majority of the questions to his subordinates to answer on the basis that he was not at post when those breaches took place.
“This should be a big warning to my accountants. You don’t collect money and keep them in your possession,” he said.Chairman of the Committee, Mr James Klutse Avedzi in his final remarks said the committee was expecting a new response to the issues raised in the audit report by the service and urged it to come along with the auctioneer to its next appearance before the committee.
By Julius Yao Petetsi

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