Poor-quality audit reports to blame for Auditor-General’s low recovery of surcharge, disallowance – Governance expert

Poor-quality audit reports to blame for Auditor-General’s low recovery of surcharge, disallowance – Governance expert

A poor audit process and poor-high quality audit reports to Parliament have through the years dealt a heavy blow to the Auditor-Generals’ quest to surcharge and disallow expenditures incurred or accredited by public officers which might be opposite to regulation.

That is the competition of a governance expert Dr Valentin Mensah.

Dr Mensah said it has grow to be a hurdle for the Auditor Generals, previous and current to adjust to key aspects of the regulation on surcharge and disallowance which has made it tough, if not unimaginable, to recuperate public funds misappropriated by public officers.

Citing data and figures from the 2019 deliberations on the Ghana Audit Services 2020 Budget Estimates by the Special Budget Committee of Parliament, Dr Mensah noted that “Out of the amount of ¢8,465,250,157 identified as irregularities in the various reports submitted to Parliament in 2018, only ¢67,315,066 (7.95%) had been recovered from the perpetrators.”

Taking contributors by the regulation and process of surcharge and disallowance, Dr Mensah said the Supreme Court’s ruling on Occupy Ghana Vrs Attorney General [2017], has thrown the mandate of the Auditor General under Article 187(7)(b) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 17 of Act 584 to “disallow any item of expenditure which is contrary to law and surcharge the amount of any expenditure disallowed upon the person responsible for incurring or authorizing the expenditure” into the limelight.

However, the same structure in Article 187(9) additionally permits an individual aggrieved by a disallowance or surcharge made by the A-G to enchantment to the High Court under the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2016 (C.I. 102), Dr Mensah said.

Poor-quality audit reports to blame for Auditor-General’s low recovery of surcharge, disallowance - Governance expert
Dr Valentine Kwasi Mensah is a governance expert

According to him, the Auditor Generals have at all times been discovered wanting when the individuals against whom these certificates of surcharge and disallowance are issued set off the enchantment process.

By regulation, the Auditor General after receiving the discover and grounds of enchantment has 14 days inside which to file with the Court Registrar, 5 copies of all of the paperwork utilized by the A-G in respect of which the enchantment has been lodged and his response to the discover, setting out a concise statement of the details and factors of regulation that he intends to depend on.

This, the CEO of CBS Consulting noted has grow to be a challenge, largely as a result of the Auditor Generals don’t at all times have the mandatory documentation and enough audit proof to again their allegations.

Errors in monetary statements of a State Owned Company audited by the Auditor-General

He additionally indicated that some of the reports are error-ridden which makes it tough to mount any substantive defence for surcharge or disallowance.

For occasion, “the Report of Directors of the 2019 Financial Statements (FS) signed on 22 April, 2021 is not in line with Section 136(1) of CA 992 in many material respects: there was no disclosure of the audit remuneration of GHS250,000 charged by the Audit Service; there was inadequate disclosure of the state of affairs and no disclosure of dividend payable, etc.”

“There were many casting errors in both the 2018 and 2019 financial statements.

“2018 FS disclosed that the auditor is GAS but the report of directors states that, “in accordance with section 134(5) of the CA 1963 [the previous private audit firm] shall continue in office.”

“Misstatement of inventories in the 2018 FS: GHS191,822,000 instead of GHS387,962,000 due to casting error, which is repeated in 2019 FS as a comparative [FS].”

Way forward

While admitting that heavy audit workloads for the reports on the audit of public accounts, assembly audit deadlines and sustaining high quality are tough challenges, Dr Valentin Mensah said it’s crucial that the Auditor General stays targeted and obtain “sufficient appropriate audit evidence” before continuing to publish his report on irregularities.

He said the Board of Ghana Audit Service “needs to introduce relevant amendments to the Audit Service Act and Regulations to incorporate the operationalization of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Surcharges and Disallowances.”

He said the A-G and the Audit Service should desist from being “a jack of all trades,” and should moderately ‘direct the whole force of the mind to one particular object’ of auditing public accounts and issuing surcharges and disallowances as stipulated in Article 187 of the Constitution.

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Credit: myjoyonline

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