Fresh documents intercepted by ABC News has revealed that the so called embezzlement of about Ghc500,000 endowment fund for workers of the Electoral Commission had happened way before the on-leave Finance Director of the Commission, Dr. Kwaku Asamoah assumed office.

All the transfers were authorized by then Finance Director, Samuel Yorke Aidoo, who has since gone on retirement.

The documents give a vivid description of the financial distress the EC found itself in right after the 2012 general elections.

The EC was in dire need of cash that it had to resort to the Endowment Fund of the workers to keep the Commission afloat.

According to the documents, the Commission as a practice made financial savings after the conduct of every major exercise and that supported the budget of the Commission.

The only time that the Commission did not make any financial saving in recorded history was after the 2012 elections. It was also the first time in history that the Commission delayed in the payment of allowances to the operatives who worked during the elections.

ABC News has also sighted a narration of how the various sums of monies were withdrawn from the Endowment Fund between March 14, 2014 and October 14, 2014 amounting to GHc480,000.

What is still outstanding is exactly how the money was spent.

Published below in part, is an explanation given by Mr. Yorke Aidoo to the Commission on how the EC had to lean on the endowment fund for its survival.

“At the time Commission was preparing the budget for the 2012 elections, the design of the verification system which was going to be part of the elections had not been concluded, so the real cost of the system was not known. Therefore whatever provision made in the budget was grossly infinitesimal to have covered the entire financial implications of the verification system.

As a result, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan led delegations to meet the then Minister of Finance Dr. Kwabena Duffour to discuss how the cost of the verification system could be financed. I recalled the maturity and the nationalistic posture of Dr. Duffour and the commitment he made to finance the verification system.

True to his word, the Minister released funds periodically to support the Commission in the preparations for the elections.

The fact was that during the conduct of the election in December 2012, the third quarter release had not been made. Dr. Duffour promised to release the funds involved but could not do it before the end of the year. Unfortunately, he was replaced in the first quarter of 2013 and that triggered the financial crises of the Commission. The new Minister of Finance probably did not know of the promise or assurance the previous Minister had made to Dr Afari-Gyan, so the outstanding funds were not released as expected.

Let me state for a fact the Commission as a practice made financial savings after the conduct of every major exercise and that supposed the budget of the Commission.

The only time that the Commission did not make any financial saving in recorded history was after the 2012 elections. It was also the first time in history that the Commission delayed in the payment of allowances to the operatives who worked during the elections.

It took the Commission well over three (3) months to pay the allowances of operatives. Several other payments were in arrears. It was the first time in the history of the Commission that the Printers who printed ballot papers for the elections petitioned the Minister of Finance for their monies.

Most of the services from our service providers were rendered on credit. Fuel was credited from GOIL and others which was uncharacteristic of the Commission. Some of the accredited garages that repaired our vehicles threatened legal action for non-payments and indeed, one of them lodged a complaint with a debt collector to retrieve their money.

The situation was such bad. Unfortunately, it was the same period that the Commission was in court over the same elections. It was also the same period that the Ministry of Finance started the implementation of the GIFMIS which effectively ended the regime of financial savings by the Commission.

The Ministry of Finance was not releasing any money. The only releases were in respect of item one of the budget (i.e. salaries) which the Auditor General closely monitored and gave financial savings by the Commission.

The Commission operated two major accounts all at the Bank of Ghana (i.e. main account and operations account) and other special accounts. I must stress that the situation was so terrible and harrowing that the Commission resorted to transferring funds from the main and the special accounts into the operations account for the purposes of managing the activities of the Commission. These transfers were also formally and officially approved.

The transfer applications were prepared by the Accountant and signed by the Deputy Chairman (F&A) to the Governor, Bank of Ghana. It was during this period that the Commission could not make payments not only to the Endowment Fund but could also not make payments in respect of allowances and to service providers.

Furthermore, before the Accountant General started paying workers as part of the rationalization policy, funds were released to the Commission for the payment of salaries and salary related allowances. These funds were lodged in the main account. As a result of retirement, deaths and terminations, there were always surpluses in the main account which could be transferred to the operations account during emergency situations. However, because the Commission made a lot of savings in the past, resort to transferring of fund from one account to the other was not common. The period after the 2012 elections was unusual and a lot of transfers were made and every transfer was dully authorised.

In the case of the Endowment Fund, it was the inability of the Commission to make expected payment due to the financial crises. If the Commission had made the expected financial savings in2012 as it did in all previous exercises since time immemorial, this crisis would never have occurred.

Furthermore, had it not been the implementation of the GIFMIS which rationalized management of funds and eliminated the prospects of financial savings, a lot of savings would have been made and payments into the Endowment Fund would not have been an issue”.

The Economic and Organised Crime Office is currently investigating how the fund was used and ABC News is reliably informed that the report has been ready for more than a month but its implementation has been a headache to some people in and outside government.

It would be recalled that EOCO in a letter dated, July 4, 2017 addressed to the EC Chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei demanded that the Deputy Chairperson in Charge of Corporate Services, Georgina Opoku Amankwah, the Chief Accountant, Mr Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi and Dr Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, the Director of Finance. be made to proceed on leave to pave way for investigations into “the loss of about GH¢480,000 from the Endowment Fund at the Electoral Commission.”

The letter said the three were key persons to assist with the investigations. In response to EOCO’s request, the EC Chair, Mrs Charlotte Osei, wrote on Wednesday July 5, 2017, saying: “As you are aware, the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) is investigating the loss of about GHc480,000 from the staff Endowment Fund.

“Pursuant to this investigation, EOCO has requested that I direct you to proceed on leave while the investigation proceeds. This is to ensure the integrity of the investigation. “During the period of your leave, please be advised that you are not to undertake any business on behalf of the commission or access any information from the commission until the investigations are concluded. By this letter, may I ask you to proceed on leave immediately,” the letter said.

 

Source : Atinkaonline.com

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