The government, between 2001 and 2011, incurred GH¢624 million as judgement debts, a Deputy Minister of Information, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said.
Out of the amount, GH¢117 million was paid in 2009, GH¢276 million in 2010 and GH¢231 million in 2011.
While some of the payments were tortious claims resulting from molestations by members of the security agencies, others were in respect of wrongful dismissal of government employees, compensation in respect of accidents caused by some public officials, as well as wrongful demolition of private properties.
Breach of contracts constituted majority of the payment made during the period under review.
Eighty-six institutions and individuals benefited from such payments in 2010 alone.
Among them were Balkan Energy Limited (GH¢170,726), CP Construction (GH¢18,012,982), African Automobile Limited (GH¢2,500,000), MS Rockshell International (GH¢7,140,500); Latex Foam Limited (GH¢133,165), Novotec Limited (GH¢573,058) and Nene Yobo Asutsuare Sugar Factory (GH¢2,525,600).
Dr Seth Twum, Nana Owusu Akyia Prempeh II, Kojo Boakye Kutin, Kojo Hodare-Okae and Alfred Agbesi Woyome are among the individual beneficiaries.
Similar payments were also made to the National Procurement Agency for settlement agreement and Avnash Industries Limited for the confiscation of the company’s assets in 2004.
The payment of all judgement debts by the government has been captured in the Auditor-General’s 2010 Report on Public Accounts submitted to Parliament by the Auditor-General.
Mr Ablakwa told the Daily Graphic in an interview that the government, in 2010 alone, made payments to some 86 beneficiary individuals and organisations, while negotiations were still underway to clear outstanding arrears.
He said the payments so far made, including that of Mr Woyome, were as a result of the former adminstration’s failure to honour contractual obligations.
According to him, payments made in September this year, with outstanding arrears of about GH¢560 million (which converts to over US$380 million) enumerated recently by the Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, in Parliament, would have been channelled into poverty alleviation ventures.
“The whole nation would have been spared the uproar that payment generated if past government officials had acted in a meticulous manner,” Mr Ablakwa said.
The Auditor-General’s Report indicated that the GH¢276 million judgment debt, representing 11 per cent of total government administrative expenditure, could have been avoided if public officials had taken precautionary measures in performing their official duties.
The report similarly indicated that the non-enforcement of penalty clauses by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) also emboldened oil marketing companies (OMCs) to unduely withhold state funds, resulting in some huge chunk of revenue loss to the state.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana
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