Parliament has approved a loan agreement between Ghana and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) Frankfurt am Main, for an amount in the sum of 13 million euros, for the construction of three regional and 22 district offices, for the Ghana Audit Service.
The effective performance of the functions of the Ghana Audit Service (GAS) has been hampered by inadequate infrastructure and lack of human capacity. There is the need to strengthen the regional and district structures of the Service, in respect of improving the execution of its constitutional mandate and domestic accountability.
In view of the above, there is the need to provide additional office accommodation to the Service, while at the same time upgrading the skills of the Audit staff to effectively carry out their audit functions, hence the request of the aforementioned amount.
The implementation of the project will help in the promotion of good governance in the areas of transparency, accountability and probity in the public financial management system in Ghana.
The project has two components namely, investment in infrastructure and capacity development.
Investment in infrastructure involves the construction of three regional offices for the Service in Cape Coast, Koforidua and Ho, and 22 district offices in strategic locations across the country to ensure timely audits and increased coverage.
The capacity development component involves the training of staff of the Service and the development of training manuals.
The repayment period of the loan is 30 years while the grace period is 10 years.
Prior to the approval of the loan agreement, the chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, James K. Avedzi, briefed the House that the Committee expressed satisfaction at the increasing ability of the Ghana Audit Service to identify abuses in public financial management and misapplication of public funds by some public officials. This in the view of the Committee was a step to achieving the desired level of discipline and prudence in the use of public funds.
The Committee, however, was not satisfied with the efforts of the Auditor-General to use his enforcement powers as stated in Article 187 (7) (b) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 7 of the Audit Service Act and the Audit Service Regulations.
The Auditor-General explained to the Committee that though the Auditor-General has the power to surcharge and disallow expenses incurred by public officials, such a power has never been exercised.
The Committee recommended to the Auditor-General to exercise the power of disallowance and surcharges to help in the timely recovery of misapplied, embezzled or misappropriated funds to the state. Such an action, in the opinion of the Committee, would serve as a disincentive for corruption and improve public accountability.
‘The Committee after a careful examination of the referral, is convinced that the facility will help to improve the logistical and human resource capacity of the Ghana Audit Service and improve public financial management in the country’, the Chairman informed Parliament.