OccupyGhana has announced that it has received a copy of the High Court (Civil Procedure) (Amendment) (No. 2) Rules, 2016 (CI 102), which regulates appeals to the High Court from the Auditor-General’s Disallowances and Surcharges.
OccupyGhana said its incessant pressure led to the changes and said that the absence of a well-defined rule made Ghana lose almost GH¢2.5 billion through Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) alone within a decade or more.
The group further said between 2009 and 2014, monies lost to Ghana through Public Boards, Corporations and Other Statutory Institutions were over GH¢5 billion per the Auditor General’s own annual reports.
A statement issued in Accra by the group yesterday said they have been ‘battling’ the Auditor General to get him to exercise the constitutional and statutory powers of Disallowance and Surcharge, and thereby help Ghana to recover the billions of Cedis that are lost to the nation each year through blatant and largely unpunished public sector corruption.
“In the course of that engagement, OccupyGhana discovered that the requirement under Article 187(10) of the Constitution for the enactment of rules of court to regulate appeals against the Auditor-General’s Disallowances and Surcharges had not been complied with,” they said.
The group further said on 28th May 2015, they wrote to the Rules of Court Committee for inquiry and after subsequent interactions, it was invited to submit to the Rules of Court Committee proposed draft rules for enactment as required under Article 187(10).
“Subsequently, OccupyGhana received for its comments, the draft bill which captured almost verbatim, the proposals we had made,” the group explained.
The pressure group said it has always contended that “the Auditor-General has more power to commence the process of recovering monies lost to Ghana by issuing the Disallowances and Surcharges, than the simple annual ritual of issuing reports to Parliament containing mere recommendations.”
They said Auditor-General between 2011 and 2013 had complained in his reports that “the cataloguing of financial irregularities in my Report on MDAs and Other Agencies has become an annual ritual that seems to have no effect.”
“It is the continued blatant theft of the nation’s monies through public sector corruption and the apparent unwillingness of the Auditor-General to exercise the powers of Disallowance and Surcharge that compelled OccupyGhana to reluctantly commence proceedings before the Supreme Court on 21st July 2016,” adding “that matter is still pending, and on 31st January 2017, the Supreme Court directed the parties to file further arguments on the matter.”
“As we wait for this matter to be concluded in court or settled out of court if the Auditor-General simply issues the required Disallowances and Surcharges, we are gratified to witness the enactment of these rules, CI 102, which we have taken the liberty to christen ‘The OG Rules’.”
OccupyGhana said the latest development showed that “any labour for mother Ghana is not in vain. We also express our sincere gratitude to the Rules of Court Committee, particularly Her Ladyship, the Chief Justice, for the opportunity to work together on this matter.”
“It is in the same spirit that we reiterate our long-expressed willingness to drop the court action the day the Auditor-General issues the first Disallowances and Surcharges,” it added.
By William Yaw Owusu