CAGD has no ‘balls’ to withstand ministers –Imani

Policy think tank, IMANI Ghana, has observed that because the Controller and Accountant General Department (CAGD) wants to avoid the overbearing powers of Ministers of state and heads of Departments and Agencies, it has not been able to police its mandate.

It said due to this lackadaisical attitude, the CAGD has not been up and doing in removing ghost names from the public payroll, a situation it argued, was having serious repercussions on the country’s wage bill.

According to IMANI, it was about time the CAGD woke up from its slumber and stood firm to enforce its mandate. This, the policy think tank believes, would help empower the CAGD to block all fictitious payments, so as to regain confidence in the public payroll administration.

“The CAGD must be able to enforce its mandate in making sure that it is empowered to block all fictitious payments. It is apparent that the CAGD is weak in this regard, probably because it wants to avoid clashes with Ministers, Departmental and Agency heads”, argued Franklin Cudjoe, Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of IMANI Ghana, in an exclusive statement copied to The Chronicle.

To stop interference from Ministers and Heads of departments and agencies and ensure the smooth operations of the CAGD, the policy tank has proposed that “all Ministries, Departments and Agencies must be asked to sign legal consent forms as part of the pay run process to say to the best of their knowledge the pay run is correct before any payments are made”.

Further to that, it said there must be whole rethinking of existing business processes of the CAGD to ensure that Controller verifies every single payment it makes, since that was the only way there could be accountability.

It said the laxity by the Ministry of Finance to also provide a verification functionality or oversight on Controller’s could implicate them in abetting the losses.

“We need a really strong action to be taken to ensure the sanctity of government payroll as dependence on insufficient SSNIT (social Security) records by CAGD as a control is not satisfactory, as it still leaves loopholes”, it added.

That notwithstanding, the policy think tank also proposed the introduction of quarterly audits by a third party on the payroll records as part of the new process to stop new ‘cases’ from slipping.

Over the last couple of weeks, the issue of ghost names on Ghana’s public payroll has attracted a lot of interest.

According to media reports, the IMF would be critically examining the country’s payroll in their next visit to Ghana for a discussion on its bailout package.

Mr. Franklin Cudjoe has been at the forefront of criticizing the Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper, for refusing to heed the directive of his former boss, Dr. Kwabena Dufuor, when he was his deputy, in addressing the bloated public payroll issues.

The IMANI boss does not understand why Mr. Terkper disobeyed Dr. Dufuor’s professionally authorized directive to hand over the problematic 30% payroll under the CAGD command to the private firm, SOFTtribe, that had been contracted by the same government and Controller to handle the 70% of public payroll, apparently effortlessly and with non-existent ghosts.

According to Mr. Cudjoe, Dr. Kwabena Dufuor read copiously on radio letters written and approved by the current Controller and Accountant General and her deputies on the efficacy of SOFTtribe’s systems.

He said whilst Mr. Terkper has suggested that, the aggravated confusion and deep mistrust between the Controller and Accountant General and vendors be solved at a Cabinet sub-committee level, his outfit, together with many Ghanaians and civil society organisations disagree, and want an open transparent public forum featuring all the actors -the CAGD, the Finance Ministry, the vendors, consultants , professional IT persons and the Media, to explain how it came about that there were still ghosts on the country’s payroll after millions of Cedis had been spent to clean it.

“Many Ghanaians would like to know from all vendors handling the payroll, 70% by SOFTtribe and 30% by the Controller, how their systems are either allowing ghosts safe passage or are getting caught.

“All Ghanaians want to hear from all interested parties how the existing payroll process should allow a new set of guidelines to make it much more credible and foolproof”, he noted, stressing that “this will require the CAGD and all its consultants as well as business process players work together to standardize the payroll system as per ISO standards”.

source : The Chronicle