The management of the 10 polytechnics in the country have been cited for engaging in financial irregularities amounting to GH¢45,469,341 between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014.
The irregularities cover outstanding debts, loans and recoverable charges, cash, payroll, procurement, tax, stores, as well as contractors.
These financial infractions are contained in the 2013-2014 report of the Auditor-General on the public accounts of the polytechnics.
The Auditor-General, Mr Richard Quartey, in a preamble to the report, described the infractions as exceptions in the management of operations of the polytechnics.
According to him, there were many instances of non-compliance with financial and other regulations, as well as errors that occurred in the transactions.
“These are the results of systemic weaknesses that have persisted over time and other break-downs in internal controls,” Mr Quartey observed.
On outstanding debts, loans and recoverable charges, the report pointed out that the irregularities in that category related to outstanding loans and staff debts.
The worst offender in that regard was the Wa Polytechnic which recorded GH¢558,547 for the period.
The Ho, Accra, Kumasi, Sunyani, Takoradi and Cape Coast polytechnics did not falter in that category.
That, the report said, arose out of management’s failure to furnish the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) with inputs and the inability to allow borrowers to make direct payment or enforcing any other means feasible under the circumstances to commence the recovery process.
It also accused the management of lack of supervision and improper record keeping to monitor and recover loans granted.
It recommended that the management of the polytechnics should vigorously pursue recovery of the loans granted and resort to legal action where necessary.
“They should also improve on supervision and ensure that schedule officers update all advances in the records,” it added.
According to the report, cash irregularities comprised misapplication of funds, non-retirement of imprest, unapproved expenditure and non-payment of internally generated funds (IGFs) into the Consolidated Fund.
The Kumasi Polytechnic topped the list of offenders with GH¢18,454,114, while the Bolgatanga Polytechnic was the least offender with GH¢79,823.
“These occurred as a result of laxity in expenditure control, flagrant disregard for financial regulations pertaining to disbursement of funds in the public sector and failure of heads of finance to control disbursement of funds and ensure that transactions were properly authenticated,” the report said.
For that, it advised the management of the polytechnics to improve the control environment, including the establishment and effective operation of internal audit units, as well as enhance supervision over accounting staff to minimise those irregularities.
It recommended the authentication of all payment vouchers, the review of approved budgets, strict adherence to the provision of the Financial Administration Regulation (FAR) and the efficient management of IGFs and prompt retirement of imprest.
Payroll irregularities mostly included the payment of unearned salaries, non-deletion of separated staff after termination dates and payment of allowances without approval.
The Bolgatanga Polytechnic topped this category, registering GH¢47,416 and US$29,349. The Ho, Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Cape Coast and Wa polytechnics did not offend in this category.
The report recommended effective co-ordination between the administration heads and accounts units in order to provide timely information concerning separated staff for prompt deletion of their names from the payroll.
It also recommended that bankers of separated staff should be promptly notified to withhold salaries paid into their bank accounts for early recovery.
In addition, it said management should ensure the recovery of and payment into government chest the amounts held by the banks.
The report attributed procurement irregularities to intentional disregard for the Public Procurement Act, management’s failure to comply fully with the procurement law, improper procurement planning and a breakdown of procurement process.