The Judgment Debt Commission on Tuesday appealed to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to always cross check from ministries, departments and agencies to ascertain the truth before effecting payment of judgement debts on their behalf.
Mr Justice Yaw Appau, Sole Commissioner of the Commission, said the practice where payment of judgment debts were effected by directives from the Attorney General without the Finance Ministry cross checking from ministries, departments and agencies had contributed to leakages and wastage in public finances.
He said public finances were leaking every year while important projects suffer from inadequate finances due to the negligence of some authorities at the Ministry to cross check judgment debt payments.
Mr Justice Appau expressed shock at the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relation�s indebtedness of 16 million Ghana cedis to the African Automobile on maintenance and workshop services of vehicles belonging to the Ministry in 2010 and rose to 511 million Ghana cedis in July 2013.
He said the 511 million Ghana cedis would scale up to 600 million Ghana cedis at the end of September 2013 if payment was not made.
The Commissioner raised these concerns when the Department of Urban Roads, Judicial Service, Ministry of Environment, Science & Technology, Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning and Ministry of Manpower & Labour Relations appeared before the Commission in respect of payment of judgment debts made to African Automobile Limited on servicing and maintenance of vehicles
Mr. Justice Appau said he was unhappy that the Attorney General did not put up any defence to find out whether MDAs were actually indebted to the African Automobile Limited before ordering the Ministry of Finance to effect payment.
�This is the consistency we are experiencing in the payment of judgment debts. The Finance Ministry does not cross check the legitimacy of the debts and nobody from the Attorney General goes to the courts to defend such cases.�
�It appears we do not care about what happens to our public funds. When you think about all these things, you develop headache,�� Mr. Justice Appau said.
Mr. Justice Appau asked the Ministry of Finance to take concrete measures to curtail wastage in the public finances now and forever by always writing to MDAs to ascertain the truth about their indebtedness before making any payments.
Mr. Kwadwo Awuah Peasah , Director of External Resources Mobilisation, Bilateral Division of the Ministry, appeared before the Commission in respect of judgment debt payment made on behalf of 19 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to African Automobile Limited.
All the five MDAs told the Commission that they never established any agreement with African Automobile Limited in respect of the maintenance and services of their vehicles and could not cite any document on such agreement on their records.
Mr. Peasah said the Ministry received two letters from the Attorney General directing it to pay more than 8 million Ghana cedis as judgment debt to African Automobile Limited on behalf of the 19 MDAs.
He said the Ministry also paid 22,193 .06 Ghana cedi in 2009 to African Automobile Limited but expressed doubts about the Ministry purchasing vehicles for the MDAs, saying �All MDAs have their budgets for the purchase of vehicles and apply to the Ministry to release funds to purchase the vehicles.�
He said the MDAs would not know whether payment had been made or not because sometimes the Ministry is provided with account number to make direct payment.
On maintenance and services, he said, the MDAs should be better placed to answer �these questions because they are provided with funds to handle administrative expenses and therefore payment of vehicles maintenance and services are not done by the Finance Ministry.�
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