Decentralize public financial management to reduce corruption- AG

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The Auditor-General, Mr. Daniel Domelevo has appealed to government to consider decentralizing public financial management system to reduce corruption. He submitted that better fiscal decentralization brings about better transparency and puts a check on corruption. Mr. Domelevo made this call during the 3rd Kwadwo Baah Wiredu Memorial Lectures and the commemoration of his 10th anniversary on Thursday, 20 September 2018 in Accra. The Lectures was under the theme ‘Protecting the Public Purse – keeping the gate shut before the horse bolts’

Mr Domelevo, while commending the country for the gains in decentralizing governance, said the over centralization of funds at the top is depriving assemblies of needed funds for development. He noted, “Funds must follow functions”. The real development function is at the regional and district levels. Therefore government should decentralize the national budget into regions and districts where the actual action occurs. ‘The smaller it is the more transparent it becomes’. He noted that decentralizing public financial management system will be a check against corruption, thereby keeping the horse in the stable.

The AG also said, the country needs a disciplined public financial management system to ensure speedy development. This includes fiscal discipline, strategic allocation of resources, improved service delivery and suppressing corruption.

He said financial or fiscal decentralization is yet to catch up with political and administrative decentralization in the country. Fiscal decentralization is still within the Ministries he reiterated. While endorsing government’s efforts aimed at fiscal transfers to the lower levels of government, Mr. Domelevo appealed to government to be more radical in its efforts. He was worried that if a public servant gets promoted, transferred or resigns in Lawra, Bawku, Donkokrom etc, the data has to travel to Accra before effecting it on the payroll- in this technological age where one can input data from anywhere.

Mr Domelevo based his speech on the two pillars espoused by the late Kwadwo Baah Wiredu. The first pillar is that “the Public finances of Ghana must be managed and accounted for as prescribed by the Constitution of Ghana. The second pillar is that ‘’ working in the Public Service was an honour and recognition which was to be reciprocated through excellence in performance and humility at all times”.

Mr. Domelevo reiterated that private sector is the engine of growth but the public sector is the oil that runs the engine. He questioned, ‘‘what business can one do without the public service’’? He said “Ghana beyond aid is achievable if we appoint the right people with the right attitude. He lamented about the wide spread corruption in the Public Service – “white corruption”. Public servants, he said use public time for personal gain. Government pays them for eight hours a day but they come to the office at 9:00 am and by 3:00pm they are gone. If we quantify the hours then so much of government resources go down the drain

The Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu Memorial Lecture was established in 2014 to recognize and immortalize the life and works of Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu a Chartered Accountant, Politician and Public Servant, who died in office whilst serving as Ghana’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning under President John A. Kuffuor. The Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu Memorial Lectures are organised under the generic theme of sound management and accounting for Ghana’s public finances.