The Internal Audit Agency (IAA) says it has saved the country GH¢4.5 million through the implementation of the Electronic Salary Payroll Validation (ESPV) system.
The system, which was implemented by the IAA, in collaboration with the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD), helped to retrieve the money between June 2022 and March 2023, following the identification of ghost names on the payrolls of some public institutions.
This was contained in an address read on behalf of the Director-General of the IAA, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, by the Head of the Project Coordinating and Monitoring Unit (PCMU) of the IAA, Alhassan Fuseini, at the maiden Accountability Town Hall Forum in Accra yesterday.
In 2013, the CAGD rolled out the piloting of the validation of salaries through the ESPV by heads of management units as a requirement for the payment of salaries.
That was under Regulation 304 of the Financial Administration Regulation, 2004 (LI 1803), which was amended in 2019, to ensure that all government agencies validate the payroll at the end of each month before payments are made, as Regulation 90 of LI 2378 directs.
Last year, the intervention was implemented nationally to help deal with the age-long challenge of ghost names on payrolls, as it is intended to sanitise government payroll by reducing ghost workers on it.
Some of the benefits of the ESPV are to help promptly remove from the payroll all retired employees, deceased staff and other staff who have vacated post but somehow still have their names on the payroll.
The CAGD has trained validators across the regions and set up heads of management units on the administrative system, while MMDAs have been trained on the ESPV administrative system set up to manage payrolls at the local level.
Organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), with support from Transparency International and Global Affairs Canada, the forum was on the theme: :Promoting service delivery through social accountability”.
It provided the platform for citizens and groups, particularly women who are at risk of discrimination, to discuss ways of promoting accountability in educational and health service delivery.
Dr Osae explained that the two institutions embarked on the exercise following a directive from the government and the Ministry of Finance to carry it out monthly to eliminate ghost names from the pa roll.
He urged the ministries of Education and Health and their various agencies to establish internal control systems to check infractions and abuse of public funds and eliminate corruption.
The systems that should be put in place were preventive, directive, detective and corrective controls, he said.
When implemented, he said, it would help the management of the two ministries design their respective activities to comply with laws, regulations, policies and procedures to prevent abuse of public funds.
Dr Osae pointed out that although the educational and the health sectors had been playing important roles in service delivery, results from the various reforms showed weak accountability, oversight and supervision, which often led to corruption.
Citing the Audit report on COVID-19 transactions for the period March 2020 to June 2022, he said GH¢205,309,797 was cited as irregularities in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Ministry of Health.
Again,he observed that single source procurement without the approval of the Public Procurement Authority amounted to GH¢9,280,300.
“All these irregularities could occur when internal controls are not followed or put in place" he pointed out.
Dr Osae suggested the “rationalisation” of salaries of internal auditors to be consistent with those at the CAGD.
He also stressed the need for the amendment of the current Internal Audit Act 2003, Act 658 to reflect the exigencies of the times.
The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Coalition of Non-governmental Organisations in Health, Oswald Owusu-Akuoko, said the country had been experiencing intermittent shortages of routine vaccines and other essential commodities due to accountability challenges in healthcare delivery.
“It is, therefore, worth taking pragmatic steps to address all the bottlenecks that have the potential to derail Ghana's health outcomes," he noted.
The Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare, observed that weak oversight by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education, its partisan nature, low citizens’ participation in holding duty-bearers accountable, running of opaque administration by educational authorities and parental ignorance are some of the issues that had hindered development in the educational sector.