The Minister of National Security, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, has challenged Members of Parliament (MPs) to desist from seeking favours from Minister of State.
He said MPs must rather seek answers and accountability from ministers of state. That, he said, would earn the MPs respect so they are seen as stooges of ministers.
Speaking at an orientation workshop for members of the Committee on Government Assurances (CGA) in Ada Monday, Mr Kan Dapaah, who is a former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, challenged committees of Parliament, especially the CGA, to regularly seek accountability from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on the use of budgetary allocations to prevent misappropriation of public funds.
Topics treated at the workshop included the Mandate and Procedures of the CGA, Ensuring Accountability of Government and the Committee and Media Relations.
Mr Kan Dapaah said findings of financial misappropriation in the Auditor-General’s reports constituted only 15 per cent of the MDAs.
He said the Auditor-General conducted an audit of only a sample of the financial transactions in the MDAs, which was a standard in auditing.
For instance, he said, if the Auditor-General said GH¢20 million could not be accounted for at a particular ministry, it meant that figure represented 15 per cent of auditing at that ministry, explaining that more could be found if the auditing was done on the remaining 85 per cent.
Mr Kan Dapaah said another challenge with the Auditor-General’s reports was that the reports came out late while the public hearings by the PAC were also done late, by which time many of the offending officials might have retired or died, which made the retrieval of the money much more difficult.
He said the tendency for people to ‘chop’ public funds was ripe if there were no checks and balances to prevent them from engaging in corrupt dealings.
He added that the best time to prevent the misappropriation of money was during the implementation stage of projects and programmes by MDAs.
He said at that stage, Parliament could use so many tools at its disposal to seek accountability from ministers.
For instance, he said, the sector committees could invite the ministers to answer questions on the use of budgetary allocations.
Mr Kan Dapaah stated that the CGA was one of the powerful committees in Parliament that could prevent the misappropriation of funds, as it had the power to seek answers to any financial transaction.
Besides, the CGA had the mandate to question ministers on the extent of work on their promises, pledges and undertakings.
Ministers, he said, could also be invited to answer questions in Parliament or MPs could move a half-hour motion for ministers to provide answers to some pressing issues.
NAME AND SHAME
Mr Kan Dapaah said MPs could also move a motion of ‘no confidence’ in a minister for poor performance.
According to him, even if the vote did not go through, the MPs who moved the motion could have registered their protest in the public eye.
He mentioned the failure of Parliament to perform its oversight functions and the lack of a sanction regime as the major problems that allowed for the misappropriation of public funds.
He, therefore, called for the right systems to be put in place to prevent government officials from misusing public funds.
“As for the stealing, they will continue to steal, but we too have the checks and balances to prevent them from stealing, and when they steal, we have to sanction them,” he said.