General News Thu, 1 Oct 2020
They were contributing to a zoom panel discussion organized under the theme: “The Independence of the Auditor General - A critical Review.”
The discussion was part of efforts by the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana) to play a more critical and active role in Ghana’s public finance administration and corporate governance.
While the members in unison believe the office of the Auditor General (AG) could be more independent than it is, they were varied in their opinions on what has accounted for the current stalemate between the AG and the executive.
The Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, has been forced to take his mandatory leave by the president at a time when he was investigating a case involving the Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo.
The president asked him to take his accrued 123 days leave, a decision which did not go down well with him.
He wrote back to the president challenging the decision and threatening to take legal action. That may have angered the president, forcing him to add his July leave arrears to it and increasing the leave days from 123 to 167.
The action by the president has since been condemned by a number of civil society groups and anti-corruption campaigners.
The case is currently pending at the Supreme Court awaiting a verdict by the judges who are on vacation.
But Chartered Accountants and Auditors all of whom are members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants were vocal on the matter during the zoom presentation held on Wednesday evening.
Timing of decisions
One of the discussants said the ex-president, John Mahama was partly to blame for the current impasse.
According to him, the timing of the appointment of Daniel Domelevo by the ex-president could be misconstrued as an attempt for Domelevo to shield the outgoing ministers of state and public officials.
That he said sowed a seed of mistrust between the incoming administration and the new AG and this clearly manifested in the appointment of private auditors by the Akufo-Addo-led government to investigate officials in the previous administration.
Daniel Domelevo was sworn into office by ex-president John Mahama after he had been voted out of office and had barely a week to hand over power to the incoming administration.
Another discussant however believed the sitting president could have handled the issues better. He said the timing of the president’s proceed on leave instructions was wrong.
He noted that with the AG investigating the Senior Minister, any attempt to interfere, for the right or wrong reasons, could be seen as an attempt to usurp the powers of the AG.
In the cordial and healthy discussion, one of the chartered accountants also stated that the AG should have worked within the confines of the law. He stated that by convention, Auditors are not in favour of employees overstaying and failing to take their leave days.
“As an auditor, if someone is working and does not want to go on leave because he is sitting on something, you have every right to tell him to take his leave. So why is the Auditor General himself failing to take his leave?” he argued.
Mr Isaac Charles Acquah a Consultant and a chartered accountant would rather Parliament appointed the Auditor General and not the president.
He said an increased role by Parliament will empower the Auditor General more.
Dr Valentine Mensah a Chartered Accountant and the lead presenter on the night deplored the situation where parties demand for accountability only when they are in opposition.
“Accountability is when citizens hold government or executive answerable to their actions,” adding, “without accountability we cannot secure good governance.”
Dr Mensah tackled issues relating to the history of auditing in Ghana, mandate of the Auditor General, independence, successes and challenges of the office of the Auditor General.