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We just finished another annual ritual that underlines our complete lack of seriousness as a country.
Once again, the Auditor General has released his report. And right on cue, the collective, ineffectual expressions of disgust is going on. The Auditor General, has identified “irregularities”, not stealing, not “causing financial loss to the state”.
Amongst these irregularities is that of Buipe Polyclinic where an accountant who forged the signature of the Medical Superintendent and withdrew about 430, 000 Ghana cedis is walking around in freedom! There are those who have refused to pay taxes or duties. There are Ministries, led by Ministers who are being celebrated which cannot account for large sums of our money.
The Auditor General has, in most of these cases, politely urged the responsible authorities to reach out and negotiate the recovery of these amounts. Of course, if these were fowl or goat thieves, they would be serving years in jail, sentenced sometimes, by Anas judges.
To put things in context, these irregularities, over the term of this government, has amonted to 5-6 billion USD, using the exchange rate of about 7 cedis to the dollar before the cedi escaped the IGP’s custody. This would be at least double what we are currently seeking from the World Bank/IMF! These regular thefts are depressingly bipartisan.President Akufo-Addo was right that “Y3te sika so nso ekom de y3n” As Gabby would have queried, “Na sika no wo hen?” Sika no, my fellow Ghanaians, is sitting in private pockets while our Ghana careens towards insolvency.
In response, the usual suspects are making futile ritualistic noises. OccupyGhana, which has for some time been occupied by things outside accountability is calling out the Auditor General for not applying “surcharges”, consistent with the 2017 Supreme Court ruling.
Anokwa, HKP was right, we minor in majors and major in minors. If we were serious about recovering the stolen monies revealed by the Auditor, we would look to the Presidency and Parliament and state agencies established and funded and empowered to deal with corruption, not to paltry, ineffective surcharges.
The President’s oath obligates him to “preserve, protect and defend the constitution”.
All our anti-corruption laws come under the constitution. He appoints all the Ministers and Heads of agencies who are superintending this grand theft and he has pledged, amirably to “protect the public purse”.
Parliament represents the public. They have the power of the purse. They approve significant financial transactions. They appropriate the monies that are the subject of these irregularities.They are obligated to exercise executive oversight, and financial oversight is at the core of executive oversight. And there are myriad agencies charged with fighting corruption, listed above, including the police.
Thus the focus on the Auditor General reminds me of the man who demanded that his mother-in-law next door stop praying in response to intimacy problems with his wife and my bosom friend who still blames the referee for Ghana’s failure to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2010. Let us stop beating the side of drums while complaining the drums don’t sound good.
Mr. President, you are failing to fulfill your pledge to protect the public purse. You should sack those in your government stealing from the public purse and refer them for prosecution. The Presidency is indispensable in the fight against corruption and corruption is at the core of our persistent and chronic underdevelopment. We can never get to “Ghana beyond Aid” without dealing with corruption. Let the incorruptible NADAA stand up.
Let those in the NPP and all who mean well join me in shouting, “It is showtime, President showboy! Stand and deliver”
Our Parliament appropriates money. The public accounts committee is not just for show. At least, it shouldn’t be. Consequences must flow from its deliberations. Parliament must stop sending more money to corrupt institutions when stolen money has not been recovered. How can we send money to thieves and be surprised when the money gets stolen?
We make a lot of auditing, which is an account of stolen money after the fact. We should talk of transparency and controls like separation of functions and strong approval processes and rigorous vetting of soul-sourcing etc that would prevent malfeasance rather than discover them after the fact. In finance, just as in medicine, a pesewa of prevention is worth a thousand cedis of cure.
Mr. Speaker, our Parliament, protect the public purse! Let us call out those with power who are doing nothing.
As history tells us, we cannot become the nation our founders wished us to be in the midst of unchecked corruption.
Let us be up and doing.
Let us be citizens, not spectators!
Long live Ghana.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy (7th September, 2022)