…As Sly Mensah Brace-Up PAC Appearance
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Sylvester Mensah, has admitted that the 2012 Auditor General’s damning report on the finances of the Authority is true, but the misappropriation did not happen under his watch.
Mr. Ras Boateng, was the first CEO of NHIA, when its became operational with a defective law; ACT 650 of 2003, in the era of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, led by John Agyekum Kufuor, which enable lots of criminal activities, including daylight stealing.
The 2012 Auditor General’s report, which was based on the audited accounts of the NHIA between 1 January, 2008 to 31 December, 2009, has revealed that large amount of public funds were either diverted into non-existing investment accounts or withdrawn without a trace.
“These are our observations that we have made public…the report is legitimate and a true reflection of what happened at the time,” Mr. Mensah said, adding “the scheme that we inherited in 2009 was not operating efficiently”.
Insiders at NHIA told The Herald that Mr. Mensah, was ever ready to make an appearance before the Public Account Committee of Parliament (PAC) to respond to the issues raised in the audit report.
Mr. Ras Boateng, became the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NHIA, under the faulty law; ACT 650 of 2003, which was later changed, upon the exit of the Kufuor regime.
The law, which was hurriedly passed without lots of input from then Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC), created room for all manner of malfeasance and naked stealing with some people currently in jail serving a 5-year prison term. Others, have either being sacked by the NHIA or fled from criminal prosecution.
The law, ACT 650 of 2003, was subsequently reviewed and changed to ACT 852 of 2012 by the John Atta Mills government, which to a large extent closed up the gaping holes through which many people siphoned money into their private pockets.
Misrepresentations and inflation of claims by health facilities among other dirty issues, have been reduced to the barest minimum with audits and clinical investigations by officers of the NHIA.
He has, however, clarified that the results of a comprehensive internal audit which was carried out on the operations of the scheme when he assumed office in July 2009 is what has been captured in the report.
On the Citi Breakfast Show yesterday, Mr. Mensah, explained that under his leadership, the Authority undertook a “comprehensive internal audit of the entire scheme from the authority through the regions down to the schemes. It is from our internal audit report that over 90 percent of the issues you find here reflected.”
“It is this report that we shared with our external auditors for further investigations that we now have this reflected in the external audit report,” he remarked.
He blamed his predecessor for the financial malfeasance saying, “I became CEO of the health insurance in July 2009 and so largely, 2008 was within the previous regime and again the leadership of the previous regime continued through to July 2009.”
According to Mr. Mensah, the findings from the internal audit which he initiated led to a series of comprehensive reforms on the operations of the scheme to “tie all the loose ends that we had… and address some of the structural and administrative bottlenecks that generate such difficulties.”
A risk assessment he said, was also taken, adding that before his tenure, there had never been a risk assessment of the scheme till late 2009 into 2010.
On Joy FM’s Top Story, the NHIA boss, insisted that the scheme under his leadership was making sure the inefficiencies in the NPP era are corrected.
The NHIA, was established under the National Health Insurance Act 2003, Act 650, to ensure universal health insurance coverage in relation to persons resident in Ghana and persons not resident in the country, but who are on a visit to this country and to provide access to healthcare services to the persons covered by the Scheme.
The Auditor General in its 2012 report, uncovered financial malfeasance running into millions of Ghana cedis at the NHIA, covering the period 1 January, 2008 to 31 December, 2009.
Titled “Report of the Auditor General on Public Accounts of Ghana – Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions for the Year Ended 31 December 2012”, the audit revealed (on pages 211 to 272) hefty amounts of public funds were either diverted into non-existing investment accounts or withdrawn without a trace.
The report, noted in part: “An amount of GH¢158,526 purported to have been transferred by the NHIA to the Nanomba North Mutual Health Scheme could not be traced to the bank statement of the scheme.”
In another instance the Auditor General discovered a 2.4 million Ghana cedis difference between transfers recorded by the Bantama Mutual Health Insurance Scheme and the NHIA.
“We did not sight Gambaga Mutual Health Insurance Scheme receipts of an amount totalling GH¢70,295 being payment made to some service providers in 2008”, the report said.
The audit also found the withdrawal of 900,000 Ghana cedis from the claims account of the Oguaaman Mutual Health Insurance Scheme which was subsequently deposited into a purported investment account. However, the Auditor General found no evidence of the existence of the account.
“We observed a difference of GH¢1,166,183 between revenue reported by the Denu Scheme as transfer from Head office and the amount reported by the Head office as transfers to the scheme” the report said in another section.