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Monday, August 3, 2009

President Calls for Forensic Audit

Following a directive from the President for the immediate auditing of the accounts of all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs), more details of the state of indebtedness of and malfeasance at the assemblies have emerged. The directive followed the discovery of huge debts, running into millions of Ghana cedis, at 21 MMDAs in the Western and Brong Ahafo regions.

During his three-day visit to the two regions last week, the President met metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) to know about the challenges confronting the decentralisation programme in their respective metropolises, municipalities and districts and how the central government could address them.

A Deputy Minister of Information, Mr Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, explained to the Daily Graphic that during the tour by the President to the two regions, he noted that since resources expended during the regime of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) were public funds, the people must know how such funds had been used and to what extent they impacted on their living standards. The deputy minister said it was during that interaction that the “MMDCEs recounted the huge debts they had inherited and how they feared that in their first year in office they had to use the Common Fund to settle debts”.

The Tano South District Assembly has a debt of GH¢344,993; Sene, GH¢682,261.78; Gyaman South, GH¢687,807.00; Nkoranza North, GH¢612,630.31; Sunyani West, GH¢254,389.10; Dormaa Municipal, GH¢499,908.39; Tano North, GH¢233,306.37; Sunyani Municipal, GH¢441,465.32; Asunafo South, GH¢1,469,693.29; Asutifi, GH¢480, 931.61; Atebubu Amanten, GH¢444,083.80. Others are Techiman Municipal, GH¢381,026.59; Asunafo North Municipal, GH¢855,404.08; Wenchi Municipal, GH¢1,155,462.74, and Kintampo Municipal, GH¢325,530.04. The rest are Jaman North, GH¢779,058.81; Dormaa East, GH¢29,630.87, and Berekum Municipal, GH¢51,467.

In the Western Region, the Evalue Gwira District Assembly has a debt of GH¢410,000, while Aowin Suaman had GH¢883,000.75 Kintampo South in the Brong Ahafo Region, however, recorded no debt. Mr Okudzeto-Ablakwa said it was further revealed that most of the projects, such as roads and schools, supposedly executed could not be traced, while the alleged contractors and suppliers were no longer interested in demanding their money.

“Some of the contractors and suppliers seem not to care about the debt the assemblies allegedly owe them, heightening suspicion about the authenticity of the projects,” he said. He also raised the issue of how some assemblies that were as young as five years could incur those “huge debts”.

In a related development, the government has denied media reports that while he was on the tour the President had flown from Takoradi to Sefwi-Wiaso. Mr Okudzeto-Ablakwa, who made the denial, said on the contrary, the President travelled by road to ascertain the state of the roads in the area.

Meanwhile, Kweku Tsen reports that President John Evans Atta Mills on Friday rounded off his three-day visit to the Brong-Ahafo Region, President Mills, who was accompanied by high-ranking government officials, including the ministers of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Lands and Natural Resources and Roads and Highways, said the directive should not be misconstrued as vendetta by his administration against his political opponents, stressing that "political functionaries must, on a regular basis, render account of their stewardship to the public as to how the huge sums of money earmarked for the districts were used to improve their lot".

"I do not subscribe to witchhunting of political opponents which is unproductive and counterproductive but I sincerely believe there should be accountability of our tenure of office," he said.The measure, he said, would go a long way to sustain public confidence in politicians whose image and credibility were often dealt heavy blows whenever acts of financial misappropriation were uncovered.

"We politicians must set good examples for ourselves, as we must realise that the masses of the people entrust their destiny into our hands to transform their material conditions but not to capitalise on such opportunities to amass wealth at their expense," President Mills said. He said functionaries of the NPP administration had nothing to fear, since those whose hands would be declared untainted and clean after the audit could go on leading their normal lives, as well as contribute meaningfully towards the nation's reconstruction efforts.

However, he said, appointees found to have embezzled public funds after the exercise would be dealt with according to the laws of the land. He briefed the gathering on the state of the economy, stressing that although there were challenges confronting the nation, the government had mapped out pragmatic strategies to salvage the economy and reconstruct the country.

Credit: Daily Graphic

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