The Audit Service has been caught in what could be described as shoddy, the work that it did on the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) Performance Audit from 2012 to 2018.
The narration by the GETFund Administrator, Mr. Richard Boadu, on Peace Fm’s morning show, ‘Kokroko’ yesterday, was clear that the Audit Service did not peruse documents that were given to them by the GETFund Secretariat.
In his submission, it turned out that some 88 persons on the Auditor’s Report as people who were said to have benefitted from GETFund foreign scholarships and there were problems with them, were generated by the auditors and not the GETFund Secretariat.
”The GETFund Secretariat gave the Audit Service files and they decided to generate those 88 names at their free well,” he said.
Mr. Boadu revealed that it was rather the GETFund Secretariat that asked the Audit Service to come and audit the fund because the secretariat wanted to do things under well-structured best practices.
”The GETFund Secretariat paid the Audit Service GHC350, 000 to carry out the audit, and so the business of the audit was done following certain complaints cannot be true,” he said.
He said: ”The Auditor General wanted to audit from 2012 to 2016 but the GETFund Secretariat decided that it should be extended to 2018 in order to avoid a situation the secretariat will appear to be witch-hunting officials of the former administration.”
Explaining the scholarship agenda of the GETFund Secretariat, he said the Act establishing the fund does not frown on foreign scholarships because part of the Act talks about educational activities that would be decided by the Minister of Education in consultation with the GETFund Board.
It is instructive to note that the GETFund Act made a provision under Subsection 2(2)(e) that allows the GETFund Secretariat to promote other educational activities.
Mr. Boadu, who took time to educate listeners on the activities of the GETFund, made it clear that the Secretariat could not spend monies without approval from Parliament.
It came out during the interview that it was the GETFund Secretariat and the Minister of Education that asked the Auditor General to look into scholarships.
”The minister first asked the Auditor General to audit some three universities and later included scholarships and other infrastructure,” he explained.
He said: ”The Auditor General told us that it does not have the funds to carry out the exercise because the Ministry of Finance had not released funds so we doled out some GHC350,000 for the exercise.”
”Initially, the Auditor General wanted to run an audit on operations between 2012 and 2016 but we decided otherwise and extended to 2018,” he said.
The Auditor General Performance Audit Report on the GETFund Scholarships has created furore because certain individuals who are capable of financing their education had benefitted from GETFund by securing foreign scholarships.
”We just sponsored personnel from the Fire Service, Police Service and Judicial Service to build capacity in certain areas that are grey,” he said.
He explained that Members of Parliament could also write to the Secretariat for sponsorship and made it clear that at no point have monies meant for gifted but needy persons been expended on capacity building.
The Auditor General is suspected of having leaked the audit report to the local media at a time that the financiers of the whole work, which is the GETFund Secretariat, did not have copy.
Sam Gariba’s Reaction To The Audit Report
Former Director of the GETFund, Mr. Sam Gariba, said the conclusion by the Auditor-General that they have breached its mandate and “illegally” funded foreign scholarships is scandalous.
He denied any wrongdoing in the manner in which he administered scholarships during his time in office.
A performance audit conducted by the Auditor General on the GETFund found out that over 2,000 scholarships were awarded to undeserving people, including politicians.
The report found out that the GETFund Secretariat largely circumvented processes to award the scholarships and failed to institute systems to ensure scholarship monies were prudently used.
Mr. Gariba, who served between 2012 and 2016, said he only followed the existing procedure in awarding scholarships upon assumption of office.
“The request to make comment on the attached performance audit report by the auditor general did not come to me from the auditor general. It came to me from my successor to bring the audit to closure as standard practice. I did not invent anything; I saw and met a procedure and structure in the administration of the scholarship.
So I found it satisfied, picked it up and utilized in the administration of the scholarship. Indeed, that procedure was to award a scholarship to people who were studying outside the country.”
Mr. Gariba argued that claims in the report were scandalous, ridiculous and unfounded and cannot fathom why he will be surcharged for something he did with “due diligence.”
“The Auditor-General is not the law. The Auditor-General has gone and made some scandalous claims that I administered this thing without the Board’s permission, I had two boards in my time. One was chaired by Professor Mills, he is dead. He knew about everything through the board. How can the Auditor –General reach such a scandalous conclusion, what is their stake?
How do they know that we gave scholarships to the detriment of needy people? Just looking at a Member of Parliament, you just conclude that they are a millionaire and are not entitled to get funding from the GETFund.
How can you reach such a conclusion? That is the kind of ridiculous conclusion the Auditor General wants me to reach,” he added.