The Auditor General, through a Special Audit, has uncovered a string of questionable contracts at the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) totalling almost GH¢1 million.
GEPA, is under the Ministry of Trade and Industry led by Alan Kyeremanten, the Ministry, comes across as shirking its oversight responsibilities.
There are several cases of overpayment of Clothing allowances running into several thousands of Ghana Cedi,outrageous rent allowances with one deputy GEPA boss;Eric Twum Amoako, pocketing as much as US$60,000, aside monies he and his boss; Gifty Klenam, together with Akilu Sayibu; another deputy, collected for furnishing their rented houses.
But it is not clear, how much Gifty Klenam, former New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Lower West Akim in the Eastern Region and her other deputy, Akilu Sayibu, pocketed as their rent allowances.
However, reports from The Herald’s sources at GEPA, say that some of them, did not rent, but lived in their own houses and surcharged the cost on the state, albeit astronomically.
According to a “report of the Auditor-General on special audits carried out on selected state institutions in the year 2018”, although President Akufo-Addosacked the trio from GEPA they managed to glean some monies from the period June 2018 to 31 December 2018 even though the President had relieved them of their duties on 7 June 2018.
Interestingly, while they were chopping, some MPs, were also profiting from them. For example, the report captured that “between August and December 2017, the Authority made payments totaling GH¢192,400.00, described as honorarium, courtesies & protocols, special and sitting allowances to all the members and supporting staff of Parliamentary Select Committees on Trade, Industry and Tourism, Finance and the Women’s Caucus in Parliament but was unable to substantiate the payments.
The state auditor found out that the management of GEPA under the leadership of Gifty Klenam, engaged two resource persons for the provision of various Consultancy services and splashed them with payments of GH¢269,473.50 and USD$123,000.00 through single sourcing. The amount was paid to one Kwesi Korbor in Kaneshie-Accra, and a firm called BLC Investment Consult between September 2017 and February 2018.
At its meeting held on February 1, 2018, the Council, unilaterally approved and paid members remuneration and allowances totaling GH¢180,886.00 for the period November 2017 to May 2018, but could not provide documentary approval by the Minister of Finance.
The report further stated that “we requested the Council to provide the authority for the payment of the remuneration and allowances to its members. We further requested that payment of allowances be discontinued until the needed approvals and authorisations are obtained failing which Article 187 (7) (b) of the 1992 Constitution on disallowance and surcharged will be invoked”.
According to them “we noted that clothing allowances amounting to GH¢38,187.50 was undeservedly paid to the former ES, Hon. Gifty Klenam and two former deputy ESs for the period June 2018 to 31 December 2018 even though the President had relieved them of their duties on 7 June 2018”.
The attention of Hon. Klenam was drawn to the undeserved payment following which she refunded her portion of GH¢14,625.00. The balance of GH¢23,562.50 received by Messrs. Amoako Twum and Akilu Sayibu, is yet to be recovered from them. We requested Messrs. Eric Twum Amoako and AkiluSayibu to refund the unearned clothing allowances paid to them totaling GH¢23,562.50, failing which surcharge procedures would be instituted.
We noted during our review of the Authority’s payroll records that on 11 July 2017, a total of GH¢54,340.00 was wrongly paid to Mr. Eric Twum Amoako, a former Deputy ES, in respect of soft furnishing. We further noted that this payment was after he had already been paid rent allowance advance of $60,000.00 on 27 May 2017 for the two-year period July 2017 to June 2018, in lieu of a fully furnished accommodation.
We recommended that the former Deputy ES, Mr. Eric TwumAmoako, should refund the amount of GH¢54,340.00 which was inappropriately paid to him, or be surcharged in accordance with applicable statutory provisions.
Our audit of the payroll of the Authority revealed that between July 2017 and July 2018, unearned salaries totaling GH¢23,597.42 was paid to Miss Jacqueline Aboney, who was granted accumulated annual leave, effective November 15, 2016, and was to resume duty on June 26, 2017, but failed to report at the expiration of the leave period.
We requested Miss Jacqueline Aboney, to refund the unearned salary payments of GH¢23,597.42 to government chest with evidence for audit verification, within thirty days from the date of this report or be surcharged in accordance with statutory provisions.
The trio was also cited in the report for taking home expensive Apple Macbook Pro Laptop of the authority worth in excess of GHC 24,000. But Akilu Sayibu, is quoted as saying no such clothing allowance was paid him. According to Whatsup News, when he was contacted,he said and his colleagues were given the option of paying for the laptops, and he fully paid for his.
These claims are however being disputed by the Auditor General who is requesting them to return the monies and laptops or be surcharged. The report said, “When contacted the former officers indicated that the laptops contained some personal information and therefore will either buy new laptops for the Authority or will pay for their cost.
“We recommended that Messrs AmoakoTwum and Akilu Sayibu return or replace their respective laptops to the Authority without further delay.”
We noted that in May 2017, the Authority procured three Apple Macbook Pro Laptop computers at a total cost of GH¢24,675.00 for the official use of the former ES, Hon. Gifty Klenam and her two Deputies, Messrs. Eric AmoakoTwum and Akilu Sayibu.
The auditors revealed that “We further noted that all three beneficiaries took along the laptops after they were relieved of their posts in June 2018. Hon. Klenam has returned her laptop after she was informed of the anomaly. At the time of putting together this report, computer equipment valued at GH¢16,450.00 belonging to the Authority were still in the custody of Messrs. Amoako and Akilu even though they had separated from the Authority as far back as June 2018”.
“We requested the former deputy ESs to either return the official laptops in their custody to the Authority without further delay or in the alternative, reimburse the Authority with the prevailing market value of the apple computers in their custody or be surcharged with the replacement cost of the laptops”, the report said.
It was also discovered that “In September 2017 and February 2018, the former ES awarded two separate contracts for consultancy services totaling USD$123,000.00 (GH₵542,640.00) to Mr. Kwesi Korbor, Kaneshie-Accra, and BLC Investment Consult, Accra, but could not provide documentary approval of the Authority’s Entity Tender Committee for the procurement activities. We further noted that the Authority had a functioning Entity Tender Committee but the contracts were not referred to it for approval though the individual contract values were above the ES’s approving threshold. We requested the former ES, Ms. Gifty Klenam to provide approval of the Authority’s Entity Tender Committee on the contracts valued at USD$123,000.00, for our review and further action.
When grilled by the Auditor General, the GEPA hierarchy was unable to provide authorisation from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) allowing those services to be sole-sourced.
“We requested management to provide PPA’s approval for the use of single source Procurement method on the engagement of consultants amounting to GH¢269,473.50 and USD$123,000.00; failing which sanctions prescribed by Section 92 (1) of Act 663 of 2003 and Sections 5 (1and 3) of the Public Procurement Amendment Act, 2016 (Act 914), would be invoked against the former Executive Secretary and Director of Finance who approved the payments,” the Auditor General stated in the report prepared in March 2019.
It said “our review of the Authority’s procurements disclosed that management engaged Resource Persons for the provision of various Consultancy services amounting to GH¢269,473.50 & USD$123,000.00 through single sourcing, but was unable to provide us with correspondence from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) authorising the use of the single source procurement method”.
The report said “we requested management to provide PPA’s approval for the use of single source procurement method on the engagement of consultants amounting to GH¢269,473.50 and USD$123,000.00; failing which sanctions prescribed by Section 92 (1) of Act 663 of 2003 and Sections 5 (1and 3) of the Public Procurement Amendment Act, 2016 (Act 914), would be invoked against the former Executive Secretary and Director of Finance who approved the payments”.
The Auditor General had also indicted Gifty Klenam and her two deputies: Eric Amoako Twum and Akilu Sayibu for blowing almost GH¢40, 000 on fancy clothing allowances in six months between June 2018 and December 2018.
The auditors said their action is in breach of Regulation 1 of the FAR, 2004 (L.I.1802) which requires that “where a public officer is proceeding on transfer, leave or is for any other reason being relieved of the duties under sub-regulation (1), the officer shall hand over the financial, accounting records and assets to the person taking over from the officer.”
“We attributed the cause of this anomaly to disregard for the above-quoted regulation as well as the officers’ seeming notion that the laptops were allocated to them as personal properties,” the report noted.
The audit stated that “no approval was obtained from the Controller and Accountant General (CAG) for three operational bank accounts which the Authority opened with the First Atlantic Bank, Accra in 2017”, adding “we advised management to procure the concurrence of the CAG on the three operational bank accounts under reference. We also advised management to go through due process before any bank account is opened in future”.
It also discovered that “between April 2017 and June 2018, the Authority received a total of GH¢32,949,957.57 from the Ghana Export-Import (EXIM) Bank as its 10 percent share of the 0.75 percent Import Levy. However, the Authority was not provided with any evidence such as transactions report or funds release advice from the EXIM Bank or the Commissioner-General of the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to confirm the 0.75 percent Import Levy collected for the period and the Authority’s 10 percent share thereof”.
The auditors wrote “We recommended that such releases should be supported with evidence of the total 0.75 percent Import Levy received by the Commissioner-General of GRA and EXIM Bank”.
According to the report, “between August and December 2017, the Authority made payments totaling GH¢192,400.00, described as honorarium, courtesies & protocols, special and sitting allowances to all the members and supporting staff of Parliamentary Select Committees on Trade, Industry and Tourism, Finance and the Women’s Caucus in Parliament, but was unable to substantiate the payments, adding “we requested management to provide justification to substantiate the payments totalling GH¢192,400.00 to the various Committee members, failing which, the former ES and Director of Finance would be jointly held liable to refund the amount”.