BY FRANCISCA ENCHILL
A CORRUPTION Watch (CW) investigation has found that failure by some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to work together and align their policies and procedures has led to more than GH¢39m worth of value books printed by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) becoming useless as the MDAs have not claimed or used the value books for 18 years.
The Value Books printed between 2000 and 2010 have remained in the warehouse of the CAGD Annex for close to two decades as all efforts by CAGD to remind the MDAs to free the warehouse of the abandoned stocks have yielded no response from the MDAs.
CW findings also showed that CAGD printed an unrealistic quantity of the value books, which have lasted for almost two decades, without taking into account the changes in the running, procedure and documentation in these MDAs as the years go by.These changes have rendered most of the value books unusable, costing the state millions of cedis.
Value Books are documents used in raising revenue for the state. These documents include receipts, passport forms, passports, land certificates and many others.
The six MDAs which contributed to the wasteful expenditure were the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Ministry of Health (MOH), Lands Commission, Registrar General’s Department (RGD), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
The CAGD may also not escape blame because they continued to print the value books despite changes in the documentation and computerisation processes, as the last printing of the abandoned books was done on October 23, 2009, CW learnt.
The amount spent on printing the value books for the various institutions are listed in the table below:
MDAs’ responses to CW
The CAGD said it had received cold responses from some of the MDAs. When CW followed up, we received similar reactions, including refusal to respond.
However, CW investigations at the Lands Commission showed that at the time the documents were printed, the Commission was depending solely on paper work, hence relied greatly on value books, but the quantity printed was said to be outrageous as the procedures are now computerised.
In an interview, Mr Jones Ofori-Boadu, Deputy Executive Director (Corporate Services) at the Commission, disclosed that the Commission failed to retrieve the value books from CAGD due to changes in their operation as most manual works became digitalised.
“We started using computerised system for most of the things we were using value books for so we have not had the need for the abandoned value books, hence the inability for us to take the stock from CAGD,” Mr Ofori-Boadi said.
Although CAGD claimed to have printed the value books upon request by the MDAs, Mr Ofori-Boadi said he was sure that CAGD printed those quantities on their own accord because the practice at the time was that CAGD would print the documents on their own and the MDAs would send their requests and receive the documents when they needed them. The Finance Ministry paid for the documents on behalf of the MDAs.
At the RGD, CW gathered that the institution was unwilling to take responsibility for the abandoned value books because the value books were not printed based on a request by the Registrar but rather based on the discretion of the CAGD.
CW also gathered that RGD would not have the need for the value books because their mode of operations had changed over the years; hence most of their procedures had been computerised and documentations changed. Essentially, the abandoned value books have lost their usefulness to the institution.
In an interview with Mr Gideon Asamoah Tetteh, Head of Finance and Administration at the RGD, he said the introduction of new government policies without prior notice was responsible for such losses as all previous procurements had become useless to the institution.
“When government in 2005, under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, following the acquisition of a loan from the donor partners, introduced Ghana E-Government project without prior notice to the institutions, it was spontaneous and had to be implemented immediately, which automatically rendered documents already printed useless.
“They became useless because the E-Government project made their operations electronic, hence the value books already printed couldn’t have been used. If we knew, for instance, that such a project would be taking place at least a few months earlier, we would have had that in mind when making procurement, hence documents which wouldn’t be relevant after the implementation wouldn’t have been printed so we can’t be surcharged for the losses,” he added.
At the GRA, an official CW spoke to was of the view that everything about the issue had been forgotten as it was over a decade old.
The official said that GRA was operating as three separate entities, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Value Added Tax Service (VATS) at the time of the request, hence he can’t speak on a wasteful expenditure committed by one of the three entities, IRS, which was on its own at the time of it allegedly made the request.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the CW was told that the Director of Internal Audit, who was to speak on the issue, was not available and that his Deputy was appointed on Monday, October 29, 2018, so no one could speak on the subject.
Meanwhile an official told CW that although they could not speak on the matter, she could say for a fact that the Ministry was not responsible for the quantity of value books CAGD decides to print at any point in time as the Ministry requests for the quantity they need and they are supplied and that their policies and documentations have as well changed over the period.
Meanwhile, authorities at MOH and DVLA failed to respond to CW as their communication departments both said their Directors were in the best position to speak on the subject because the subject was older than their existence at the institutions.
At MOH, CW was told the Director had travelled and no other person could speak on the subject until his return.
At the DVLA, no one would speak, claiming it was the Director who could do so. Meanwhile CW official request for an interview was still on the desk of the director as he had travelled and had not assigned anyone to speak on the subject.
CW found that the actual people who were at the helm of affairs at the time of the printing, in the various institutions, are either on pension or have passed on and there was lack of proper transfer of information from the previous leadership to the current one.
Recent efforts by CAGD for response from MDAs
CW findings showed that CAGD wrote a letter with reference number CAGD/BAES/VB/001/16 to the RGD on November 8, 2017 to remind them of their value books which had been abandoned in the custody of CAGD for many years.
However, RGD did not reply to the letter to indicate whether the value books were still relevant for use or had lost their usefulness to the institution. They have also not attempted to retrieve the books.
The two state institutions have had this communication gap despite being located at a maximum of five minutes’ walk apart. The Controller Annex is opposite Accra City Hotel (formerly Novotel) and RGD is behind Tema Station.
In a similar case, CAGD wrote to the Lands Commission with reference number CAGD/BAES/001/17 on November 8, 2017 and a follow-up letter with reference number CAGD/BAES/LC/01/3Q/18 on July 24, 2018 that the institution should confirm whether the stocks had some usability or should be declared obsolete but had not received any response.
CAGD wrote similar letters with their corresponding reference numbers on July 24, 2018 to remind the five other MDAs.
Response from MDAs to CAGD
Among all the above-listed institutions, the Lands Commission, CW gathered, visited the Controller Annex to inspect their 15-year-old abandoned value books and said they would go for them and send them to their branches in the remote areas where the system had not yet been computerised.
Meanwhile, three weeks after their visit, the value books remain in the warehouse of Controller Annex because the Commission is yet to secure funding to build a storage facility where the abandoned value books could be stored until they are needed.
The Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), which is under the Ministry of Health, has also failed to collect 500,000 Patient Folders worth GH¢ 100,000 printed over the past 18 years at its request.
CW gathered KATH’s officials also visited the Controller Annex about three weeks ago following the letter dated July 24, 2018 but at the time of filing this report, the stocks were still in the warehouse of CAGD.
Breakdown of the wasteful expenditure:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
In the case of the MFA, the State lost GH¢2, 178, 420.00 due to the failure to claim value books the Ministry requested the Controller and Accountant General (CAGD) to print between the year 2000 and 2009.
The value books included 825,000 Biometric Passport Forms worth GH¢ 825,000, printed on October 19, 2009; 1,795,000 Passport Application Forms (old) worth GH¢933, 400.00 printed on September 29, 2003; 806,000 Passport Renewal Forms worth GHc419,120.00 printed on October 30, 2002; and 3,000 Hajj Travel Documents worth GH¢900.00 printed on April 2,2000.
In the case of Ministry of Health (MOH), the State lost a total of GH¢138, 400.00 due to the failure to claim value books the Ministry requested the Controller and Accountant General (CAGD) to print.
The value books were 500,000 Patient Folders (KATH) worth GH¢100, 000.00 and 240,000 Patient Folders (General) worth GH¢38,400.00.
In the case of the Lands Commission, the State lost a total amount of GH¢18, 926,315.00.
The value books included 7,000,000 Land Title Certificate worth GH¢16,100,000 received on March 4, 2003 and 2,000,000 Azulaid Land Register worth GH¢360,000 received on March 6, 2003, the two totaling GH¢16,460,000.
In other incidences 183,000 Land Commission GCR worth GH¢640,500.00 were printed on August 29, 2005; and 11,030 Land Commission Acknowledgement Receipt Books worth GH¢137,875.00 were printed on January 24, 2006.
They also include 99,400 Valuation receipt books worth GH¢347,900.00 printed on April 1, 2004; 574,800 Land Title Registry Forms (LR 13, LR 23) worth GH¢1,322, 040.00 printed on 13/06/2007; and 100,000 Azulaid Land Register(Supplementary) worth GH¢18,000.00 printed on March 6, 2009.
Registrar General’s Department (RGD)
In the case of Registrar General’s Department (RGD), the State lost a total of GH¢15,846, 989.00 between the year 2003 and 2009.
The value books included RGD Partnership File Jackets printed on May 22, 2007, Business Name Certificates printed on August 14, 2003, Certificate of Incorporation (Ltd) printed on August 14, 2003, Certificate to commence Business printed on August 14, 2003, Certificate of Incorporation of a company printed on October 4, 2004, and Industrial Design Registry (Textile File Cover) printed on May 18, 2007.
Also there were Certificate of Registration of Change of Business Name printed on February 23, 2006, Certificate of Incorporation (ACT 179) guarantee printed on August 10, 2003, Patent File Cover printed on January 8, 2003, Certificate of Change of Name (Partnership) printed on January 24, 2006, Business Name Jackets printed on April 23, 2009, Business Name Cards printed on August 14, 2003, Company Liability Jackets printed on October 23, 2009, and Certificate of Incorporation received on August 10, 2003.
The State lost a total of GH¢1, 190, 280.00 in the year 2007 due to the failure of the Authority to claim value books printed by CAGD upon their request.
The value books were 12,000 Income Tax Verification Stickers (ITV) worth GH¢1,190, 280.00 printed on September 24, 2007.
In the case of the DVLA, the state lost a total of Ghc967, 482.00 due to the failure to claim value books DVLA requested the Controller and Accountant General (CAGD) to print.
The value books included Old Driver’s License printed on 12/10/1999, Ghana International Driving Permit printed on 02/12/1998, International Fiscal Driving Permit printed on 20/10/2002, International Certificate for Motor Vehicles printed on 24/10/1999 and Cover Note printed on 28/01/2000.
Auditor General’s Directive
The Deputy Auditor General, Mr George Winful, in an interview with CW, directed that the institutions responsible for the wasteful expenditure be surcharged as poor collaboration between the MDAs and CAGD resulted in the wasteful expenditure.
Meanwhile, CW findings showed that CAGD and the MDAs were refusing to take responsibility for the wasteful expenditure as CAGD claims the books were printed following a request by the MDAs while some of the MDAs insist they did not make the request.