Saving the public purse – Controller and Accountant General’s Department remains focused

The CAG. Mr. Eugene Asante Ofosuhene, (middle) with his deputies, Mr. Kwasi Owusu (left) and Dr. Hayford Baah-Adade

“A good Accountant can save you money but a great Accountant can make you money and let you enjoy real life”  

In his days as the Chief Executive of Ghana, President John Agyekum Kufour was reported to have made a poignant statement that Ghanaian workers of state, otherwise known as Civil Servants and to some extent Public Servants, pretended to be working and Government also pretended to be paying them.

In effect, the salaries of most workers on Government payroll are inadequate just as the productivity of this category of workers was also nothing to write home about. Bridging the gap between productivity and the corresponding remuneration has been the headache of all successive Governments of Ghana since independence.

The plight of the Civil Servant in the past had been worsened by delays in the payment of what has been variously described as meager monthly salaries. The story has not been the same the last year and a half or thereabout.

There has been a tremendous improvement in the monthly payment of salaries of Government workers. This can be attested to by all Civil and Local Government staff. Salaries since May 2017 have been paid promptly according to the monthly schedule which is known to all staff on Government Pay roll.

Killing the ghosts on government payroll

Also, there has been remarkable improvement in the Electronic Salary Payment Voucher (ESPV) system which ensures that ‘ghosts’ do not resurrect at the end of each month to collect unearned salaries. With the strict demand for the monthly compliance of the verification process by heads of institutions/units, the CAGD has virtually ensured the permanent and natural death of these ‘men of the underworld’.

In the same vein, Civil and Public Servants who may have had issues with their salaries within the aforementioned period are readily and promptly attended to without delays by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) as was the case in the past.

Staff of the Client Service Unit and the Call Centre within the Department attend to Government workers and others who either walk in or put through telephone calls to enquire about issues bordering on salaries and pension payments with polite, care and timeliness.

Under the eagle eyes of the Controller and Accountant General, Mr. Eugene Asante Ofosuhene, the Ghana Integrated Financial Information System, (GIFMIS), an integrated computerized financial management platform designed to ensure prudent public financial transactions, has been deployed in all 216 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) including 62 IGF institutions throughout the country.

One other innovative policy which the Department is diligently pursuing has to do with the Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) which was originally planned to have taken off in April this year. Under it all Third-Party entities, Contractors, Consultants, Suppliers and firms which transact business with State institutions would be paid electronically via the EFT. That is to say that the era of manual cheque as a mode of payment would cease.

Revenue generation

With the core mandate to ensure the safe custody and  protection of the public purse in addition to its disbursement, the CAGD has currently taken up the front seat in revenue generation and mobilization by teaming up with the Ghana Revenue Authority in ensuring the strict adherence and implementation of the Withholding VAT, Act2013 which implies that VAT be charged on all supplies of goods or service made in Ghana and on all imports of goods and services other than that which are EXEMPT under the ACT.

For the smooth and hitch-free enforcement of the Withholding VAT, the CAGD in collaboration with the GRA has held sensitization and training seminar for all Heads of Accounts, Treasury and Finance Officers of MDAs and MMDAs in all 10 regions of Ghana in the last few weeks.

The recent achievements and breakthroughs of the Department could be traced to the commitment and determination of the staff under the able leadership of the Controller and Accountant General, Mr. Eugene Ofosuhene who assumed office sometime in April 2017.  The sense of discipline he has instilled in the staff has yielded positive dividend for the good of the Department and mother Ghana.

By Michael Eduam