The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO), Abraham Adjatey, has called for the closure of the office of the Auditor-General.
The Auditor-General of Ghana, who is the head of the Ghana Audit Service, undertakes audits of the public accounts of Ghana and all public offices as mandated by Article 187 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Mr. Adjatey told host of Joy FM’s Showbiz A-Z, George Quaye on Saturday, January 28 that, lack of power on the part of the Auditor-General to directly prosecute people who have misapplied or misused state funds, has rendered the institution useless. He, therefore, called for the office to be closed down.
“They should close the Auditor-General’s office, and send the Auditor-General and all his workers home because they are of no use to this country. Because if the use is that you will tell us who ‘chopped’ our money and every year you will do that exercise, we don’t need such people. We need people who can do that investigation, tell us and have the power to prosecute,” he said.
The GHAMRO CEO made this statement during a discussion on the current Auditor-General’s report on the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
The special audit report basically captures the recoveries made from disallowed expenditure in the Auditor-General’s reports from 2017 to 2020 and payroll savings as of September 2022. It states that an amount of GH¢ 900.00 out of GH¢ 387,196.00 misapplied Marine Drive Project Funds have been recovered.
An extra amount of GH¢ 2,000.00 has also been recovered “out of GH¢ 32,134.00 reported as payment of unearned salaries by Department of Community Development.”
Meanwhile, reports say work on the Marine Drive Project, an initiative to develop the 241-acre prime beachfront of Accra is “progressing slowly” as a result of lack of funds. This was recently revealed at the Public Accounts Committee meeting by the Chief Director of the Ministry of Tourism, John Yao Agbeko.
While explaining that the project was no longer under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture but rather under the Office of the President, he stated that it had ran out of funds.
Questions have, therefore, been raised about why the Marine Drive Project has stalled when an amount of GH¢ 386,296 misapplied funds taken from the coffers of Marine Drive Project for the celebration of the 2018 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) and 2018 Kundum Festival has not been recovered.
In 2021, Catherine Abelema Afeku, former Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, under the Akufo-Addo administration, and other government officials at the ministry were cited by the Auditor-General’s report for misapplying state resources.
“In contravention of Section 7 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), we noted that funds meant for the Marine Drive project amounting to GH¢ 387,196.00 were misapplied for the celebration of AFRIMA, Kundum Festival, and other activities,” the Auditor-General’s report for the period ending 31 December 2020, stated.
Another amount of GH¢ 73,000.00 was paid as additional expenditure for the Minister’s trip to the Volta Region from 15th to 18th June 2018.
On 7th March 2018, GH¢ 13,296.00 was paid for the Minister at the time, Catherine Afeku, to travel to the Western Region on official assignment.
Apart from these, there was payment of an allowance for the opening panel for procurement of vehicle on 3rd May 2018 at the cost of GH¢ 900.00.
Additionally, the audit report also mentions the release of GH¢ 100,000.00 to Palm Media Ghana Ltd. for the launch of AFRIMA 2018 on 17th to 19th May 2018, and GH¢ 200,000 for the release of funds to support Kundum Festival from 1st – 9th September 2018.
According to the former Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the GH¢ 200,000 which was drawn from the Marine Drive fund for Kundum festival in 2018 was used to pay the artistes that performed at the festival.
“We had artistes and I have a list of all of them [who performed and were paid]. Everybody can go to YouTube, and they will see the performances,” she said on Citi FM on August 20, 2021.
“I didn’t go round dishing money into people’s hands. Ask anybody who does events. [We used the] GH¢200,000 to take care of the likes of Medikal, Stonebwoy, Wisa Greid, Kuami Eugene, KiDi, Kwesi Arthur, among others. I was promoting our local artistes, and it was not a crime,” she said.
The former minister added that the amount did not even suffice for the project, so she had to rely on individual donors to pay all the artistes. The Axim Kundum Festival in 2018 featured other artistes such as D-Black, Agya Koo, Sefa, Kofi Kinaata, among others.
Catherine Afeku admitted to the release of GH¢ 100,000.00 to Palm Media Ghana Ltd. for the launch of AFRIMA 2018 which took place in Ghana on 17th to 19th May 2018.
She also indicated that the GH¢ 73,000.00 paid as additional expenditure for her trip to the Volta Region from 15th to 18th June 2018 catered for herself and some musicians she went with.
She, however, noted that the money drawn from the Marine Drive Project fund was subsequently refunded. This is at variance with the Auditor-General’s recent report that an amount of GH¢ 386,296 misapplied funds taken from the coffers of Marine Drive Project is yet to be recovered.