The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, has expressed concern over the failure of pre-tertiary institutions in the northern sector of the country to abide by the guidelines set out for them in their expenditure.
He described the auditor’s report on the institutions in the three northern regions as very worrisome. For instance, he cited the Northern Region where out of 41 institutions, 39 submitted their financial statement, out of which 32 have been validated.
He said some of the institutions had failed in submitting their financial statements for the past 11 years. The chairman added that of the 12 financial regulations set out to guide institutions in their expenditure, the schools were found culpable in at least one of them.
Mr Agyeman Manu was speaking in Tamale on Wednesday at the sitting of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on the Auditor General’s reports on the public accounts of pre-university educational institutions for zone one in Tamale. It comprised the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
The committee is examining the financial performance of the institutions for the period spanning 2010 and 2011.
The chairman indicated that apart from the lack of proper supervision, “one of the problems identified is that there are no approved estimates in guiding the institutions as to how to expend their funds”.
He further explained that “the mandate of the committee is to ensure that public funds released to MMDAs/MDAs for servicing of public activities are spent for the purposes for which they were released and duly accounted for in accordance with laid-down rules and regulations”.
A Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Alex Kyeremeh, said his outfit was prepared to support the committee to help put erring institutions to order. He said the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) had begun investigations into some of the activities of the schools.
Mr Kyeremeh said so far the EOCO had compelled some recalcitrant heads of institutions to refund monies that were illegitimately expended, stressing that “all these border on criminality that must not be treated lightly”.
The minister, therefore, called for the appropriate financial management in schools, since the misuse of such funds was denying many children access to quality education in the country. “The ministry would wait for the recommendations of the committee to help shape policies on the judicious financial management in the institutions,” he said.
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, underscored the important role the committee played in ensuring financial discipline in MMDAs and MDAs.
“If you leave human beings to themselves, the tendency to play nonconformity would be there, that is why it is necessary to ensure accountability at all times,” he observed.
The Minority Leader, therefore, stated that the work of the committee should not be misconstrued as witch-hunting, stressing, “Let’s do what is right before God and our conscience: that is what would develop our country and lift the quality of life of our people.”
The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna, said the people owed it a duty to encourage the work of the committee for the promotion of transparency, accountability and patriotism in the governance of the country.
“I urge the committee to seek to pursue reforms that will, in the first place, regulate and prevent irregularities and corrupt practices from occurring,” he admonished. The minister further entreated the people to take the proceedings of the committee seriously so that lessons learnt “could guide us in our future endeavours”.
Source: Graphic Online