Auditor-General should audit SML/GRA contract not KPMG – OccupyGhana to President

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Pressure Group, OccupyGhana has urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to allow the Auditor-General to rather conduct the audit of the contract between Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Limited (SML) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

 

To OccupyGhana, the President’s appointment of KPMG, a revenue and assurance audit firm, to perform the task was unconstitutional.

 

It said the move ignores direct provisions meant to address such situations and as such could leave room for legal challenges.

 

The contract was entered into by the GRA to enhance revenue assurance in the downstream petroleum sector, the upstream petroleum production and minerals and metals resources value chain.

 

However, a media report has questioned the deal which led the President to order an audit by KPMG.

 

In a statement dated January 5, 2024, the pressure group explained that the 1992 constitution, in article 187, anticipated situations where public interest in the financial matters of public institutions (such as GRA) might require special audits.

 

“That is why article 187(8) specifically provides that when such matters arise, the Council of State should advise the President that an ‘Article 187(8) Public Interest Audit’ is required.

 

Indeed, and in practice, the President may seek and then obtain that advice,” it said.

 

“Then, the President would request the Auditor-General to conduct the audit. This provision in article 187 is so critical and significant, that the Constitution specifically sets it down as the only instance where a president has the power to request the independent Auditor-General to do anything,” the statement explained further.

 

Related articles;

 

President Akufo-Addo directs audit into SML/GRA contract; Suspends performance of contract

 

OccupyGhana, therefore, urged the government not to spend time and money on an audit that might  turn out to be unconstitutional and therefore worthless adding that the country loses nothing but gains everything if the Auditor-General was allowed to conduct the audit in accordance with the article stated above.

 

The Pressure group further opined that allowing the Auditor-General to audit the contract would give him the power to disallow payments found to be contrary to law and then to surcharge any expenditure disallowed upon the person responsible for incurring or authorising the expenditure among others.

 

“We therefore urge the Council of State to seize the initiative and send its advice to the President forthwith. We also urge the President to revoke the appointment and mandate of the private audit firm, and to comply with article 187 on the matter,” the statement said.

 

However, it urged the Auditor-General to conduct the special audit on his own motion because he is empowered to do so under section 16 of the Audit Service Act if the President failed to comply with the constitution with regards to the auditing of the contract.

 

 

Attached below is a copy of the statement;

OCCUPYGHANA PRESS RELEASE

Accra, 5 January 2024

 

DEMAND FOR AN ARTICLE 187(8) PUBLIC INTEREST AUDIT BY THE AUDITOR-GENERAL INTO GHANA REVENUE AGENCY AND STRATEGIC MOBILISATION LIMITED CONTRACT

 

OccupyGhana has seen and read a letter dated 2 January 2023 and emanating from the Office of the President that directs that an audit be conducted into the contract between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML). This contract has attracted a lot of public interest in recent days.

 

While we welcome both a public interest audit and the announced parliamentary inquiry into this matter, we are concerned that the President’s choice of a private audit firm to conduct this audit could be unconstitutional as it ignores direct constitutional provision made and meant to address such situations.

 

In article 187, the Constitution anticipates situations where public interest in the financial matters of public auditee institutions (such as through GRA) may require special audits. That is why article 187(8) specifically provides that when such matters arise, the Council of State should advise the President that an ‘Article 187(8) Public Interest Audit’ is required. Indeed, and in practice, the President may seek and then obtain that advice. Then, the President would request the Auditor-General to conduct the audit. This provision in article 187 is so critical and significant, that the Constitution specifically sets it down as the only instance where a president has the power to request the independent Auditor-General to do anything.

 

It is said that ‘if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well.’ We should not spend time and money on an audit that may turn out to be unconstitutional and therefore worthless, leaving room for legal challenges. Ghana loses nothing but gains everything if the Auditor-General is allowed to conduct this special audit in accordance with article 187(8) of the Constitution. The several advantages with complying with the constitutional provision include, critically, giving the Auditor-General the opportunity under article 187(7)(b) to disallow payments found to be contrary to law and then to surcharge (1) ‘any expenditure disallowed upon the person responsible for incurring or authorising the expenditure,’ and/or (2) ‘the amount of any loss or deficiency, upon any person by whose negligence or misconduct the loss or deficiency has been incurred.’

 

We therefore urge the Council of State to seize the initiative and send its advice to the President forthwith. We also urge the President to revoke the appointment and mandate of the private audit firm, and to comply with article 187 on the matter. We finally urge the Auditor-General that if the Council of State and/or the President fail(s), neglect(s) or refuse(s) to comply with article 187, the Auditor-General should commence and conduct the special audit on his own motion as he is empowered to do under section 16 of the Audit Service Act.

 

Source – Graphic online

 

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