The Auditor-General has cited a number of financial irregularities in the running of the School Feeding Programme within a number of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in the country.
A report from the Auditor General dubbed: “The Public Accounts of Ghana Ministries, Department and Other Agencies (MDAs) for the financial year ended 31 December 2018” reveals that such irregularities caused the country to lose millions of Ghana cedis.
The report among other things stated that an amount of GHc899,617 could not be accounted for by 81 MMDAs in the sale of 21,880 pieces of catering application forms which cost GHC1,094,000.
“Under the School feeding Programme, the Secretariat engaged the services of the MMDAs for the sale of catering application forms. Our review of the records at the secretariat showed poor recovery of the proceeds from sale of the forms from the MMDAs. Our examinations showed that out of the GHC1,094,000.00 realised from the sale of 21,880 pieces only GHC194,383.00 had been accounted for leaving an outstanding amount of 899,617.00 unaccounted for by 81 MMDAs.”
The Auditor General in its report attributed the poor recovery of the proceeds to “lack of effective oversight over the MMDAs.”
“Management in response agreed with our observation and stated that the MMDAs had been written to, to pay the proceeds of the sale of the Application forms into the Fidelity Bank Account at Ridge Towers. We urged the Secretariat to improve on their partnership with the MMDAs to mitigate a recurrence. We also recommended to the Secretariat to ensure that the outstanding proceeds of GH¢899,617.00 with the MMDAs are fully accounted for.”
Unsubstantiated payment – GH¢1,100,000
The report also noted that contrary to Regulation 1 of the Financial Administration Regulations 2004, “our review of the cashbook revealed that a payment of GH¢1,100,000.00 made to Dalex Finance Company vide Cheque No 24292 of 27/03/2017 was not substantiated with payment voucher and other supporting documents.”
“In the absence of the payment voucher and other supporting documents, we could not authenticate the expenditure.”
“We requested a refund of the GH¢1,100,000.00 from management for its inability to produce the documents for our review, failure of which they would be surcharged,” the report added.
Five unsupported transactions – GH¢1,368,348
The report in another instance stated that contrary to section 39 (2c) of the Financial Administration Regulations, 2004 which states that, the head of accounts section of a department shall control the disbursements of funds and ensure that transactions are properly authenticated to show that amounts are due and payable, “our audit disclosed that management failed to substantiate five payments totalling GH¢1,368,348.00 with the requisite documentations like distribution list, contract document, invoices, attendance sheet and list of beneficiaries.”
The Auditor General’s report noted that “In view of management’s failure to substantiate the total payment of GH¢1,368,348.00, we disallowed the expenditure and requested management to refund same failure of which they would be surcharged.”
Sekyere East’s culpability
The Daily Graphic on Tuesday reported that, in the Sekyere East District in the Ashanti Region, for instance, documents available to the Daily Graphic showed that over GH¢141,000 had been lost through padding of enrolment figures and other manipulations of data.
The newspaper stated that findings of preliminary investigations, conducted by state agencies such as the National Security and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) in collaboration with the GSFP Secretariat, established some infractions in seven schools in the Sekyere East District.
Below are excerpts of Daily Graphic’s report
Portions of the report made available to the paper indicated that Ntunkumso Presbyterian Primary, which was a single school with an enrolment of 385 and one caterer as of the third term of 2017/18 academic year, had been split into three with the enrolment figure repeated thrice in the payment file.
It was also discovered at the Ntunkumso Roman Catholic Primary that although the school had 172 pupils for the period under review, the caterer was paid for 380 pupils.
“The caterer confirmed that in the second term of 2017/18 academic year, she received payment for 380 pupils instead of 172,” the report indicated.
At the Senchi Methodist Primary School, it was found that the school, which runs a single stream with a population of 442 and one caterer, was duplicated in the payment file as two schools with two caterers.
The same illegality was discovered at Seniagya D/A Primary where the single stream school had been captured in the payment file as two schools and the enrolment figure inflated from 514 to 792.
“At Feyiase D/A Primary, the headmaster told the team that conducted preliminary investigations that he was new and, therefore, would not be able to furnish the team with third-term enrolment for the previous year,” the report added.
The paper gathered that the state agencies were carrying out detailed investigations to bring the perpetrators to book.
The Auditor General’s Report seems to confirm the extent to which the state is losing money through financial irregularities at the GSFP and already a management person has been suspended for it.
The former National Coordinator of the GSFP, Dr Kwame Adu-Nsiah, was suspended over allegations of involvement in “fictitious deals” in the payment of caterers of the programme.
Dr Adu-Nsiah was asked to step aside from his role on December 13, 2018 after a National Security investigation reportedly implicated him in what was described as “fraudulent deals” in the running of the feeding programme.
A letter addressed to the then coordinator and signed by the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Ms Cynthia Morrison, dated December 13, 2018, accused him of inflating figures of schools under the programme.
The Daily Graphic has learnt that a three-member team was set up under the chairmanship of the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, to investigate the matter but it is yet to make its findings public.
Dr Adu-Nsiah declined to comment on the issue but indicated that he was still awaiting the verdict eight months after being asked to step aside.