Public accounts system must be more flexible – George Loh
A former Member of Parliament for North Dayi, George Loh, believes the Auditor General’s report comes under the scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) a little too late for any lasting impact because of rigid systems.
Mr. Loh, also a former ranking member of the committee, explained that malfeasance are normally highlighted years after the facts because of a backlog issues.
“Time is of the essence when dealing with these reports because the people sometimes pass away before we get the money… we would never get to the end of this thing if the backlog issue is not sorted,” he noted on The Big Issue.
The Public Accounts Committee under the seventh Parliament, on Tuesday, begun public hearings to consider financial infractions.
It has looked at reports from the Bank of Ghana’s foreign exchange transaction and receipts and payments for the first half year, and second half year of 2015, performance reports on disposal of government vehicles by the Ministries of Food and Agriculture and Health, and the performance report on drug use in Ghana by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
Given that the committee is dealing with reports from two years ago, Mr. Loh noted that, attempts at proper accountability were likely to evade the committee.
“The Chief Director, who is the spending officer over the past two years, may have been shifted or has been taken away so who should speak to the accounts? The accountants who did the spending may have retired or died or gone somewhere, so time is of the essence when we are dealing with reports like these,” the former MP explained.
In his view, the accountability systems must be made more flexible to among other things, perhaps ensure that critical personnel in various agencies are made to give account before leaving office.
Flexible system of chairing
This flexibility must also extend to the system of chairing the committee, which normally sees a Minority member of Parliament assume that responsibility, according to Mr. Loh.
For this particular Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, James Avedzi, the deputy Minority leader is serving as the chair.
But Mr. Loh is of the view that, the fact that he is scrutinizing the time period of his government is problematic.
“If we want our public accountability system to work, we should find a more ingenious way of ensuring that at all times, the opposition or the minority who is superintending these accounts is not assessing its stewardship.”
“We are joking when we just take the laws rigidly and don’t find ingenious ways of making its applicability practicable… let’s find a way such that at all material times, the person superintending over the account is not assessing his period of stewardship,” Mr. Loh said.