Auditor-General applies for powers to act like Special Prosecutor

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The Auditor-General could become the next public official with prosecutorial powers to fight corruption within the public service following the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Mr. Daniel Domelevo says he has applied to the Attorney-General to grant him the powers to prosecute those indicted in the annual Auditor-General's report often riddled with repetitive stories of mismanagement.

"If the Attorney-General gives me a fiat which I have applied for, you will see me in action", the tough-talking Domelevo said.

He expressed what he described as "big disappointment" in some accountants within the public service faulting them for double payments made for goods and services procured in the public and civil services.

The Auditor-General has already disallowed the payment of 5.4bn cedis in overpaid contracts. At a press conference Monday, he explained that the overpayment was because some accountants simply failed to uphold professional standards

The accountants who are to scrutinize requests for payment sometimes make requests for double payments, a practice he suspects is deliberate.

But the excuse the accountants give is simply that they forgot that the good or service has already been paid for, he said.

Domelevo who has made no secret of his delight at a Supreme Court judgment that ordered his department to disallow and surcharge persons who abuse public funds, revealed his efforts are bearing fruits.

"Good things are happening…most of the people are paying," he said adding he will update the public on how much has been collected since he was appointed in December 2016.

He said those who "dared" to challenge the surcharge in court have now come pleading for out of court settlement after the Auditor-General replied to the suit.

At least 62 companies and organisations have been issued surcharge certificates to the tune of 8.8m cedis after they received payments without documented proof between December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2015.

He said the judgment delivered in OccupyGhana vs Auditor-General case which charged it to surcharge has become an important document for him.

The Auditor-General said he has read the judgment over 15 times to fully appreciate the implications. Mr. 

He said the annual Auditor-General reports presented to Parliament will no longer be only a compilation of wrong-doings and embezzlements. It will now include actions it has taken to retrieve the money.

According to him, as the report points out the infractions of public and civil servants, it will also show remedial steps that have been taken to protect the public purse, he explained.

Henceforth, the Auditor-General's Department will no longer depend on the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament in its fight against abuse and embezzlement of public funds.

He said the era of waiting for parliament to grant it the go-ahead to retrieve such monies is over.

"Instead of waiting for PAC to come and say go and bring the money that you have embezzled, we disallow and surcharge you".

"Once you cannot provide documentation, once you cannot justify, we disallow it, we surcharge you. We don't wait for Public Accounts Committee, it will be too late".

He said like many Ghanaians he found efforts taken by Parliament to address issues raised in the annual reports "surely disturbing".

PAC holds public hearings on the annual reports where heads of institutions come and explain reports of abuse, embezzlement, and corruption. 

But little is done to the heads or persons indicted in the reports and little is heard of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee after the hearings.

 Indicted persons in the report who are surcharged will not have to go to parliament to challenge the Auditor-General, he will now have to go to court.

"It is no more a matter for parliament it is court…we will take the ball to court", he said.

The Auditor-General said the new strategy is not to downplay the importance of parliament's Public Accounts Committee.

The committee is important in checking that heads of ministries tighten internal controls of public funds.