The Auditor-General has once again revealed a harrowing tale of payroll fraud involving 21 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which has resulted in the state losing GH¢467,634,792.
According to the Auditor-General, a study conducted between June 2018 and January 2020, discovered that 7,823 ‘ghosts’ names were on the public sector payroll of the MDAs.
Contained in a report presented to the Speaker of Parliament for action in line with Section 16 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584), the Auditor-General called out the agencies involved as the Local Government Service, Ministries of Finance, Communication, Education, Agriculture, Health, Information, Interior, Youth and Sport, Chieftaincy, Foreign Affairs and Roads and Highways,
The rest are Justice and Attorney General, Environmental, Science, Technology and Innovation, Gender, Children and Social Protection, Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Lands and Natural Resources, Trade and Industry, Local Government and Rural Development, and the Judicial Service.
Signed by the Auditor-General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the report which is intended to provide an independent assurance on the overall payroll management systems of government, recommended that the Controller and Accountant General Department (CAGD) terminate the contracts of the persons involved.
This is not the first time that the Auditor-General is reporting on payroll fraud in the country. Indeed, the Ghanaian Times has lost count of the number of times questionable names, known popularly as ghosts names, have been found on government payrolls.
We have reported severally each time the Auditor-General’s report was out and followed public discussions on the menace but we are yet to see anyone being held responsible over such a crime.
In fact each time such reports are made public, it is followed by public outrage with a lot of commentary and ends with the perpetrators being left off the hook.
We think that this is the main reason why the fraudsters continue defiantly to indulge in such heinous crimes that can result in considerable financial loss over time.
We believe that there is a cartel operating at the MDAs in collaboration with their counterparts at the Controller and Accountant General Department, who are engaged in creating the ‘ghosts’ for their parochial benefit.
It is our view that the authorities undertake a critical scrutiny of the operations of the payroll fraudsters and take the necessary steps to safeguard the country’s payroll system from the potential damage their actions can cause.
We also call on the government to seriously consider implementing a robust automated payroll solution that would reduce opportunities for creating ‘ghost’ on the payroll.
It goes without saying that failure to detect ghost names can result in substantial financial loss to the state over time. It is time, therefore, to exorcise the ghosts on the payroll forever.