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We delayed Auditor-General's report due to COVID-19 – Audit Service writes to Parliament

The Audit Service has denied reports by the Minority in Parliament that it deliberately refused to submit and publish the Audited Accounts of the government for the 2019 Financial Year.

Audit Service

The Service said the delay was as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and the subsequent lockdown directive by the government in March.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, and signed by the Assistant Director of Public Relations, Ama Awotwi-Bosumafi, it explained that the delay was also as a result of some of its staff testing positive for the COVID-19, resulting in the suspension of audit assignments.

Minority demands immediate publication of the report

The Minority in Parliament has asked the Acting Auditor General to as a matter of urgency, submit to Parliament the Audited Accounts of the Government for the 2019 Financial Year.

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The Minority also demanded the A-G to publish the Reports as demanded by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

"The Minority is particularly concerned that these delays may be deliberate for the primary purpose of avoiding further embarrassment to the Government," the Minority said at a press briefing addressed by the Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu.

He asked if the "delays are not intended to cover up malfeasance on the part of the government because this year is an election year."

He quoted Article 187 (5) of the Constitution which states: "The Auditor-General will, inside a half year after the finish of the quickly going before the monetary year to which of the records referenced in provision (2) of this article relates, present his report to Parliament and will in that report, cause to notice any inconsistencies in the records examined and to some other issue which as he would see it should be brought to the notification of Parliament."

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He said "Despite the basics of the above arrangements of the Constitution and Act 586, the Auditor-General has neglected to submit and distribute his Reports, three (3) months to the furthest limit of the budgetary year.

"It is significant that the Auditor-General had recently consented to the above arrangements in regard to being fully informed regarding his Reports to Parliament.

"For example, the Reports of the Auditor-General for the 2018 Financial Year were submitted inside the legal time limit."

Audit Service responds

But the Audit Service said "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.

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"The delay is solely due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus 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 was 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," it added.

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It, therefore, debunk accusations by the Minority in Parliament that the delays were "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".

The statement noted that the delay could also not be attributed to "the directive by the President to the Auditor-General to proceed on leave" as the Minority asserts adding that on July 20, 2020, the acting Auditor-General, 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 3Ist December 2019".

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