In Ghana, a member of parliament of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party is calling on President John Kufuor to launch a forensic audit on the disbursement of Highly Indebted and Poor Country (HIPC) funds. MP Haruna Iddrisu said it is pertinent that an independent audit is carried out on the funds in light of recent exposure of corruption in public institutions. The findings were uncovered during a parliamentary Public Accounts Committee hearing on the auditor general’s report.
But President Kufuor’s government said it is committed to promoting a new culture of transparency, which frowns on graft and incompetence. Haruna Iddrisu tells reporter Peter Clottey from the Ghanaian capital, Accra that he is convinced the independent forensic audit would root out corrupt practices.
“In the week of the revelations at the Public Accounts Committee of parliament, it is only prudent that one ask that the president authorizes a forensic audit into the disbursement of the HIPC funds, in particular and then the National Health Insurance Funds from 2005 to 2007,” Iddrisu noted.
He said the independent audit, if instituted, could potentially unearth various forms of incorrect practices.
“I have no doubt in my mind that it would reveal excessive levels of embezzlement, misappropriation, misapplication and fraud. And that would guide all of us in taking stringent decisions and administrative decisions that would assure the country of the judicious use of our national resources, and the prudential use of our financial resources by all public officials, be they ministers of state or bureaucrats,” he said.
Iddrisu said the President Kufuor’s government has not done enough to trumpet its transparency about the ongoing Public Accounts hearing.
“That is laughable, a transparent government? It has taken them in the last three months to explain to the people of Ghana how much it costs the state in printing the new Ghana cedi. You cannot call such administration a transparent administration. And the fact that the Public Accounts is sitting public is not their doing. It is for the committee. Remember that parliament is not controlled by the executive. This is parliament exercising its oversight over the executive arm of government. If they are transparent, let us know how much it costs in printing the new Ghana cedi. Have you heard this anywhere in this world”? Iddrisu asked.
He denied the main opposition party is against President Kufuor’s plans for a massive external capital investment in the country.
“Not at all. If for instance you take the recent move by government to borrow 750 million dollars Euro bonds, massive capital investment. Our country needs to solve its infrastructural problems, whether in the road sector, energy, and other related areas. But it must be done in accordance with due process. Under article 181 of the constitution, parliament cannot approve of a loan agreement where the terms and conditions of the loan are unknown and undefined. And I think that was the issue we were raising. Even if you look at the Loan Act, what government is doing is inconsistent with the provisions of the Loan Act. Even the interest rate of the loan is unknown. I don’t think such a government can pride itself of being transparent,” he pointed out.