General News of 2014-02-13

Shocking! UG buys two laptops at $5,000; PAC appalled

Two laptops bought in 2008 at the cost of $5,000 by two researchers of the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana became a huge issue at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament when it start­ed its public hearing into audited accounts of public boards and institutions on Tuesday.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Amenfi Central, George Kofi Arthur, prompted the committee about the acquisition of the two laptops by Dr. Ayitey Coleman and Prince Bonney, who were seconded from the Ministry of Health to the school for some proj­ect work.
The laptops were paid for by the school.
Hon. Arthur wondered how two laptop computers could cost $2,500 each in 2008 and demanded further clarifications from the authorities of the school.
In their answers, the accountant of the school, Israel Mawuli Agboh and the Vice-Dean, Moses Aikins, said the two researchers then attached to the school, went for a conference abroad and bought the lap­top computers for a project the school was undertaking with their assistance.
According to them, after the acquisition of the lap­tops, the accounting depart­ment pursued the researchers for store receipt vouchers but they never had them until 2011.
Sources close to the PAC say the receipts, which reached the PAC members just before the sitting, might not be authentic.
This was after another member of the committee and NDC MP for Keta, Richard Quashigah, had also raised issues about the exact place where the com­puters were bought.
He said documents and some receipts available to them indicated that the computers were bought in New Orleans, United States, in someone's name; but the authorities of the school are also saying that the two researchers bought the com­puters in Europe in their names.
With these conflicting reports, a committee member, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye suggested the committee invite the two researchers at the centre of the controversy to appear before it and clarify certain issues.
Meanwhile, the chair­man of the committee, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has asked the auditors from the Accountant-General's Department to conduct fur­ther investigations into the matter and make recommendations to the com­mittee for further action.
Also appearing before the committee were officials from the University of Professional Studies who were praised for being up-to-date with the preparation of their audited accounts.
The committee mem­bers strongly urged the uni­versity to wean itself off government subvention since it has the capacity to generate enough resources for the management of the school; but the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Joshua Alabi, disagreed with the committee mem­bers saying, the university would still need govern­ment assistance because of infrastructural projects the university is undertaking.
Source: Daily Guide
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