The Vice-Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, Edward Dery has described the Audit report on foreign travels of the Auditor General and his six deputies as politically motivated.
The Audit report reveals that the Auditor General and his six deputies spent GH¢3.3 million on foreign travels from January 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020.
The audit was conducted by a private firm appointed by the Audit Service Board, K&A Accounting Services.
The board commissioned the exercise because it realized that the Auditor-General travelled without seeking approval.
In a Citi News interview, the Lambussie Karni legislator insisted that Parliament must be allowed to carry out its constitutional mandate as the only body allowed to appoint auditors to probe the Auditor General.
“I do not see how the Board Chairman can appoint whether individual companies or corporate bodies to audit the Auditor General. That is not within his work. That creates the impression that this is politically-motivated. How does the Board Chairman appoint auditors to audit the Auditor General? Does that fall within his mandate?”
The Board has said the Auditor General did not account for the travels and the sources of funding.
It must be noted that Mr. Domelevo has challenged the mandate of the Board to appoint a private firm to conduct the audit.
He has insisted that the move is in “violation of Article 187 (15) of the 1992 Constitution, which makes Parliament the sole body to appoint an auditor to examine “the accounts of the Office of the Auditor-General”.
Among some findings are personal travels of the Auditor–General and some of his deputies, funded by the Audit Service; the absence of a written policy on foreign travels for the Audit Service and the failure by top management to fully retire accountable impress on foreign travels.
In one particular instance, the report cited Mr Domelevo for travelling to Malawi for five days for personal reasons, with the cost of that trip being paid for by the Audit Service.
“This was a five-day trip to Malawi, which cost GH¢18,427 in air travels, hotels and per diem of $930, fully funded by the Ghana Audit Service. The appointment letter of the Auditor-General, Mr Domelevo, was not available to enable us to confirm the legitimacy of the payments,” the report, dated October 30, 2020, said.
It, however, does not make a comparison with what pertains in other organisations analogous to the Audit Service.
As part of its recommendations, the report said the Audit Service Board must ensure that the Auditor-General took action to correct the internal weaknesses of the service with regard to foreign travels.
“Additionally, the Audit Service Board should regulate management foreign travels with an approved policy to enable the service to obtain value for money on the trips, as some travels generate revenue for the service,” it added.
Domelevo challenges audit
In a letter to the Chairman of the Audit Service Board, Professor Edward Dua Agyeman, dated September 28, 2020, Mr Domelevo said Article 189 of the 1992 Constitution, which establishes the Audit Service Board, did not give the board the power to commission audits into the activities of his office.
“Consequently, the accounting firm so appointed lacks the mandate to audit, review or examine documents and or records relating to the accounts of the Office of the Auditor-General,” he said.
Apart from the 1992 Constitution, the Auditor-General further said the move by the board violated statutes such as the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584), the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).
“I have no difficulty if auditors are appointed (at any time) in accordance with the Constitution to audit the accounts of the Office of the Auditor-General. It is of utmost importance that we obey the laws of this country and I will ensure compliance at all times,” he added.
The Audit Service Board disagreed with the position of the Auditor-General and said it had the powers under Article 189 (3) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 8 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584) to appoint a consultant to do such work as part of its mandate to “ensure the efficient discharge of the duties of the service”.
In response to Mr Domelevo’s letter, Prof. Agyeman said it was the duty of the board to ensure accountability of all funds entrusted to the Audit Service.
“In that instance, the board observes that the Auditor-General and the top management staff of the service had made many official travels out of the country, without producing any reports to the board or with nothing to show for such travels,” he said.