The credibility and integrity of the Audit Service is under close scrutiny, as it is obvious that the actions and inaction of that department are becoming sinister.
The discourses on the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) scholarships awarded between 2012 and 2018 have exposed the Audit Service, led by Mr. Daniel Domelovo, as having malicious, mischievous and bad intent.
The GETFund Secretariat, which is the subject of the leaked audit report, as a matter of fact, has not received a copy of the report circulating in the media.
The Auditor General is legally mandated to send audit reports to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament for the agencies involved in any infractions or otherwise to respond.
On the GETFund report, the Auditor General found it expedient to leak it to the media without furnishing the outfit that would be required to respond to any queries.
It is also not clear whether the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has been furnished with the report on the GETFund Performance Audit.
Disrespectfully on the part of the Auditor General’s Department, it announced that the work done on GETFund could be accessed from its website.
The work done on the GETFund Scholarships has raised legitimate concerns within certain circles, as the Auditor General refused to leak responses it received from the GETFund Secretariat.
Even before the GETFund Secretariat would respond to queries that were supposed to have been communicated officially and privately, the Auditor General had leaked the queries to the media in gross violation of ethics and procedure.
The GETFund Board of Trustees, through the secretariat, subsequently and comprehensively responded to all the queries to the Auditor General, as well as provided answers to questions posed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) and all the “investigations” and “indictments” went quiet thereafter.
Suddenly, the same audit queries, without any reference to the robust defence the Board had put up, were circulating in the media again.
The leak by the Auditor General has mischief and malice written all over it because of inaccuracies in the report.
It is instructive to note that the GETFund Act made a provision under Subsection 2(2)(e) that allows the GETFund Secretariat to promote other educational activities.
The Act, however, did not specify if those activities should be done in Ghana alone or could be extended to overseas.
The work done by the Auditor General has been rubbished by some of the persons named as having benefitted from the scholarship.
The Auditor General strangely relied on the list of persons who were named as beneficiaries without backing vouchers, something which is not the usual auditing standards.
It is clear the Auditor General did shoddy work and was quick to leak the report to the media to whip up public sentiments.
For instance, a Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Kennedy Osei Nyarko, has questioned the credibility of the audit done by the Auditor-General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo, on the Ghana Education Trust Fund’s (GETFund) scholarship scheme which listed names of some Members of Parliament and politicians among others as beneficiaries.
The Deputy Minister’s name was listed as one of those who benefited from the scholarship.
But he has denied ever receiving such an award and queried the Auditor-General over the matter.
“I want to state categorically that I have not benefited from any GETFund scholarship to study abroad, and I do not intend to apply for any scholarship from the GETFund administrator to pursue my education. I am capable of financing my education to whatever level I want to go whether doing it locally or abroad,” Mr. Osei Nyarko told Citi News.
“I have not attended such university to pursue any program. I was surprised to see my name on the list. What was the motivation for putting my name there? I have instructed my lawyers to write to the Auditor-General to seek for immediate retraction for whatever list he has put out,” he added.
The Deputy Agric Minister further threatened to sue the Auditor-General if he fails to remove his name from the list of beneficiaries of the GETFund scholarship.
Again, a former director of the GETFund, Mr. Sam Gariba, said the conclusion by the Auditor-General that they have breached its mandate and “illegally” funding foreign scholarships is scandalous.
He denied any wrongdoing in the manner in which he administered scholarships during his time in office.
A performance audit conducted by the Auditor General on the GETFund found that over 2,000 scholarships were awarded to undeserving people including politicians.
The report found that the GETFund largely circumvented processes to award the scholarships and failed to institute systems to ensure scholarship monies were prudently used.
Mr. Gariba, who served between 2012 and 2016, said he only followed the existing procedure in awarding scholarships upon assumption of office.
“The request to make comment on the attached performance audit report by the Auditor General did not come to me from the Auditor General. It came to me from my successor to bring the audit to closure as standard practice. I did not invent anything; I saw and met a procedure and structure in the administration of the scholarship. So I found it satisfied, picked it up and utilized in the administration of the scholarships. Indeed, that procedure was to award a scholarship to people who were studying outside the country.”
Mr. Gariba argued that claims in the report were scandalous, ridiculous and unfounded and cannot fathom why he will be surcharged for something he did with “due diligence”.
“The Auditor-General is not the law. The Auditor-General has gone and made some scandalous claims that I administered this thing without the Board’s permission, I had two boards in my time. One was chaired by Professor Mills, he is dead. He knew about everything through the board. How can the Auditor General reach such a scandalous conclusion, what is their stake? How do they know that we gave scholarships to the detriment of needy people? Just looking at a Member of Parliament, you just conclude that they are a millionaire and are not entitled to get funding from the GETFund. How can you reach such a conclusion? That is the kind of ridiculous conclusion the Auditor General wants me to reach,” he added.