The Audit Service has dismissed suggestions by the Minority in Parliament that the Service’s delay in submitting and publishing of reports of the Auditor-General for the 2019 financial year was an attempt to cover up corruption on the part of government.
According to the Service, the delay was as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown directive by government in March.
The Minority, at a press conference on Monday accused the acting Auditor-General, Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, of breaching the Constitution and the Audit Service Act which requires him to audit and submit to Parliament his reports on the Public Accounts of Ghana for the preceding year within six (6) after the end of the said preceding year .
A statement issued and signed by the Assistant Director of Public Relations, Ama Awotwi-Bosumafi, yesterday explained that the delay was also as a result of some of its staff testing positive for the Coronavirus, resulting in the suspension of audit assignments.
READ FULL STATEMENT
The statement said, The Attention of the Audit service has been drawn to a statement by the minority leader of Parliament , Hon. Haruna Iddrissu on 28th September 2020 on behalf of the minority caucus in parliament on the above subject and wish to respond as follows.
We are aware of the mandate of the Auditor General as enshrined in the 1992 constitution and the Audit Service Act 2,000, (Act 584) and have always worked to uphold same in times past and would continue to do so.
“While we admit that the Office has not been able to submit all the Reports of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana for the 2019 financial year to Parliament as required by the relevant laws, we wish to state that this delay is not intentional or purposeful.
“The delay is solely due to the outbreak of the novel corona virus 2019 (COVID-19) that disrupted government business and social life.”
It explained further that as was the practice, audits of the accounts prepared by public institutions only started in earnest in the middle of March 2020.
“Unfortunately, the Audit Service had to suspend all ongoing audits on 30th March 2020 in complying with the lockdown directives issued to all institutions on 28th March 2020 in line with section 169 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851),” it added.
“The staff of the Audit Service resumed work at their respective locations when the lockdown was lifted, but some employees of the Service contracted covid-19 during the audits resulting in the suspension of audit assignments. Staff were then asked to work from home which culminated in further delays in the work due to technical and logistical challenges encountered by both auditors and clients.
“These delays prevented the various audit teams from completing their audits on schedule to enable the Auditor-General (Mr. Daniel Y. Domelevo) to submit his reports on the public accounts of Ghana to Parliament before the statutory date of 30th June 2020,”
The delays can certainly not be described as “deliberate for the primary purpose of avoiding further embarrassment to the government…. Or intended to cover up malfeasance on the part of Government because this year is an election year “, as the Minority is speculating , but rather the result of the general situation affecting the nation as a whole , and was totally out of the control of the Auditor General.
The cause of the delay can therefore not be attributed to the directive by the president to the Auditor General to proceed on leave, as the Minority Asserts.
It is also instructive to note that on 20th July 2020, the acting Auditor General (Mr Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu) submitted the report of the Auditor General on the consolidated statements of the Foreign Exchange Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the year ended 31st December 2019. The acting Auditor General informed the Right Honorable speaker of parliament through the cover letter that reports covering the accounts would delay because of the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the audit activities of the service.
Most of these outstanding reports have since been sent out for printing for onward submission to parliament. Copies of all reports that would be submitted to parliament will be published on the services website in due course and in conformity with section 23 of Act 584.
We wish to assure all Ghanaians that the service will continue to work assiduously in the interest of the nation but will not compromise the health and safety of its courageous and industrious staff who toil to generate the relevant information required to produce reports for the Auditor- General to submit to Parliament.