The Auditor General has served notice it is investigating a case of alleged “unwarranted increase” in the Hajj fees this year.
The Patriotic Muslim Front (PMF), a coalition of young Muslim intellectuals, businessmen and students have petitioned the Auditor-General over the outrageous fees of GHC19,000 as against GHC15,000 last year.
The Auditor-General on Monday acknowledged receipt of the petition, promising a committee is being constituted to look into the case.
Confirming the news to Starrfm.com.gh, the president for the Patriotic Muslim Fronts (PMF), Haruna Mohammed, said they are interested in the Auditor General looking into the books of the Board since a lot of would-be pilgrims and Muslims have contacted them to express their displeasure over the fees.
Below is a copy of the petition presented to the Auditor General:
PETITION TO INVOKE THE POWERS OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 11 AND 22 OF THE AUDIT SERVICE ACT 2000 (Act 584).
We write with regard to the above-mentioned subject matter.
Patriotic Muslim Front (PMF) is a coalition of young Muslim intellectuals, businessmen and students whose sole purpose is the advancement of the course of Islam in the context of religious pluralism for peace and security through our demand for accountability and transparency from our Muslim leaders.
Following the just announced fees to be paid by Muslim Pilgrims by the Ghana Hajj Board on 14th February, 2019, we the members of PMF, having been engaged by a lot of Muslim pilgrims, are being charged to look into the unwarranted increase in the fees year in year out.
We, acting in the interest of our Muslim community, have initiated a series of activity to bring clarity and transparency to the beneficiaries of the Ghana Hajj Pilgrimage. On 21st February 2019, we served the Ghana Hajj Board with a letter regarding the fees and other issues that bothers on transparency and accountability with the main concern being:
2018: Lack of evidence to support the expenditure of the Board through an officially filed Audited Accounts for the year 2016, 2017 and 2018. For example in 2017 the quota given by Saudi authorities was around 6000 and the Board charged each Ghanaian pilgrim GH¢15,000. In effect the Board probably received and spent a total amount of 6000 x GH¢15,000. The quota of 2018 was around 5700 and again the Board charged 5,700 x GH¢15,000.
The Board has reviewed its fee upward this year to 19,500. Based on the quota the Board will manage a total amount of the quota and the new fee. Every year the Board reviews it cost only to have the Government step into provided some financial aid with the tax payer’s money yet no audit are done by the Audit Service to justify the tax payers support of the pilgrimage.
2019: Lack of transparency in the cost build up for the one-size fits all flat fee they have been charging Ghanaian Muslim Pilgrims. All decisions regarding contracts and expenditures which are controlled by the Account department of the Board are unfounded.
The breakdown of the total package paid by pilgrims is not in the public domain as is the case of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs for the Christians Pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
We are further petitioning your outfit to invoke your powers as the only institution mandated by Article 187(2) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
The Article states that:
187 (2) The public accounts of Ghana and of all public offices, including the court, the central and government administrations, of the universities and public institutions off like nature, of any public population or other body or organization established by an act of parliament would be audited and reported on by the Auditor- General.
Section 22 of the Audit Service Act 2000 (Act 584) also makes it clear that:
The Auditor-General may whenever Parliament so requests and may of his own motion inquire into report on any matter relating to
1. The financial affairs of the government or public property and
2. Any person or organization in receipts of financial aid from the government or in respect of whom financial aid from the government is sought.
The Ghana Hajj Board having been constituted by the President of Ghana and being in receipt of financial aid from the government for running some of its activities is therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the Auditor-General.
Therefore we are requesting you to invoke your own jurisdiction to audit the account of the Ghana Hajj Board to settle the unrest within the Muslim Community and will humbly request that this be expedited considering the urgency of the matter.
We await your prompt response.
Mr. Haruna Mohammed
Mr. Kadri Karim
Cc: Office of the President
Ghana Hajj Board
Muslim Cocus Parliament
Chief Imam Office