Parliament’s Public Account Committee (PAC) has questioned PURC’s decision to spend close to GHC100, 000 on Christmas hampers.

According to the report, the amount was spent on such items “during the 2012 Christmas and New Year break.”

“We observed that the amount of ¢99,663 for the purchase of the hampers was not retired or adjusted to the personal advance account of the imprest holder, instead the entire amount was expensed at the end of the year in violation of the provisions of FAR 288. This was due to the absence of a mechanism in place to ensure that such advances were retired promptly,” the report said.

PAC members also said the PURC breached the president’s directive, which asked all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to stop using public resources for Christmas and New Year gifts.

But the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Samuel Sarpong, who appeared before PAC said the expenditure was made before the directive was given in 2013.

Sarpong explained that the commission deals with many stakeholders and that giving out hampers was an alternative choice of reducing cost of giving out souvenirs.

“We deal with a lot of stakeholders across the breadth of the country and the hampers were our alternative choice of reducing the cost of giving out souvenirs,” he said.

“As at that time the cost of a hamper was ¢2000 and we manage to do it at ¢300,” Sarpong explained.

The directive, first issued by former president Atta Mills initially affected only Ministries.

President Mahama in 2013 extended it to include the Departments and Agencies under the Ministries and also Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies.

A letter from the presidency asked Ministers of State to ensure strict compliance with the directive at all levels of government, adding that “Heads of MDAs which flout the directive would be surcharged with the cost of same to serve as a deterrent to others.”

Members of the committee further accused Sarpong of profligate spending of the taxpayer’s money and negligence, subjecting him to barrage of criticisms.