As part of efforts to sustain the fight against corruption at institutional levels, government through the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council (ARCC), has initiated a full scale investigation into the bad accounting practices that fuel corruption among state actors.
Speaking at the General Meeting of the ARCC in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, disclosed that some staff of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the region had been interdicted over missing general counterfoil receipt books.
He said the Offinso, Akrofuom, Atwima Mponua and Suame local assemblies are among areas where the trend has been discovered, adding that the chief executive, coordinating directors and finance officers in the affected areas were being held responsible for the missing receipt books.
Describing the trend as worrying, he expressed fears that the receipts could be used for extortion, saying “at the end of the committee’s report, we will know the action to take. If we will have to dismiss some of them, we will do that.”
Beyond the missing receipt books, Mr Osei Mensah also bemoaned some recurring audit issues, including non-deduction of VAT and other taxes.
“It has also come to the notice of the RCC that some recurring audit issues are not being addressed by MMDAs. This includes the non-deduction of VAT and the tax, and even when deducted is not remitted. Payments made by Assemblies are also not accounted for. Some Assemblies are also refusing to hold audit meetings,” he explained.
Additionally, the Regional Minister expressed dissatisfaction at the failure by some Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Co-ordinating Directors (MMDCDs) to involve their internal auditors in the payment process, citing the use of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) as an excuse.
“Honourable members, due to the importance of financial management and audit issues to the existence of the Assemblies, there will again be presentations by the Chief Local Government Inspector and the Internal Auditor on revenue and audit issues at this meeting,” he said.
Nonetheless, all 43 MMDAs in the region have submitted their first quarter financial statements. Three of them were returned for correction of some errors.
The assemblies generated over GHC24 million out of a target of GHC26.5 million, representing 92.7 percent of the target. Seventeen of the MMDAs exceeded their quarterly budget while the Bosome Freho District ranked the worst performing assembly in internally generated fund (IGF) mobilisation. Over GHC23.4 million was spent by the Assemblies in the same period.
Mr Osei Mensah, who was satisfied with the performance, spoke about the measures adopted to improve revenue mobilization.
“The monitoring is a factor. Now we look at the financial statement every month and then I request the Chief local government inspector to give me a report on the financial statement so I look at the report and call the assemblies to back up in areas they are not doing well”, he added.
Participants at the meeting of the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council also deliberated on measures to develop local communities.