A Member of Parliament for South Dayi, and member of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Rockson Dafeamekpor, has stated that Auditor General’s Office must be granted the legal authority to prosecute public officials who misuse public funds.
He added that it was insufficient to merely surcharge such officials who were included in audit reports while ignoring the criminal aspect.
The call was made by Mr Dafeamekpor during a five-day public hearing to evaluate three Auditor General’s -Reports that were brought to the committee for investigation in an interview with the Ghanaian Times in Ho.
According to him, since the Auditorâ€™s General office knew that it had no final powers to prosecute, it would only continue to be making recommendations for Parliament to consider.
He said for example if someone misappropriated public funds to the tune of about GHÂ¢300 million and the person was only surcharged, it was not deterrent enough, thus encouraging the one to engage in it again.
Mr Dafeamekpor was of the view that the Auditorâ€™s General office as the creation of the constitution could also be given the prosecutorial powers under Article 88 of the Constitution, as done for other statutory bodies like the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Electricity Company of Ghana, given the powers to prosecute power theft,Ghana Revenue Authority to punish tax invasion and SSNIT to also prosecute pension fraud.
â€œThat is why there is an outcry amongst the generality of the people that infractions as discovered by the Auditor General must be prosecuted,â€ he explained
Mr Dafeamekpor noted that the first day of their public hearing, Koforidua Technical and Ho Technical Universities were cited for procurement breaches and misappropriation of fund.
He said GHÂ¢620,457 of studentsâ€™ fees of Koforidua Technical could not be accounted for from 8 officers of the institution.
The officers involved were only surcharged and were still paying, adding
â€œso if the Auditor General is given the prosecutorial powers it will be more beneficial to the state.â€
He recalled that the committee in its last hearing took some decisions by making referrals to the Attorney Generalâ€™s office for certain infractions such as procurement breaches for purposes of prosecution.
â€œSince May this year we have written to AGâ€™s office and we are in September 2022 we have not heard a response from the AGâ€™s office,â€ he said.