The Auditor General’s 2011 report has uncovered a scheme by some civil servants to rob the country of its scarce resources.
According to the report, the magnitude of some of the loans contracted by these employees is such that they would take between 200 and 575 years to repay.
This means these employees could remain in debt even after death.
According to the report, some government employees had outstanding vehicle loan balances against their names which, per their monthly deductions, would take them more than 200 years to pay.
The document indicated that, "GoG Payroll data showed unspecified outstanding vehicle loan balances against the names of some government employees who suffer loan deductions ranging from GHc1O2 to GHc525 on monthly basis."
Auditor General Richard Quartey observed that the "failure to show the outstanding balances presupposes that the affected employees will suffer monthly deductions in perpetuity, which, in my view, is irregular."
These loan balances, he explained, are unreliable and cast doubt on the reliability of the GHc12,475,712 in total advances disclosed in the 2011 Public Accounts.
Currently, the maximum car loan a commercial bank gives is Ghc25,000.00, payable within five years. The average net salary of a public servant in Ghana is around GHc650.00 per month.
According to the Auditor General's Report, which was based on the country's income and expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund, there were eight public servants who received dubious vehicle loan balances, with the highest going to a staff member of the Audit Service in the Greater Accra Region. The worker, whose staff ID number is 3940, has to pay GHc826,714.08 over 571 years.
Others include a staff member of the Controller and Accountant General's Department (CAGD) with ID number 2679 who has to pay GHc615,635.57 over 458 years, the Volta Regional Administration worker with ID number 34656 who owes GHc552,772.18 and the Dangbe West Audit service worker with ID number 1082 who owes GHc46.453.55.
Three other Audit Service workers have perpetual debts to pay. While ID number 971 owes GHc40,161.78, ID number 950's debt is GHc38,883.22, and ID number 954 will have to pay GHc24,435.19.
37 loan recipients appeared on the list with their outstanding balances not noted. Interestingly, 10 names appear on the list more than once.
For instance, an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture with staff ID number 99020 appeared three times on the list, collecting loans in May, June and July with monthly deductions of GHc123.90.
CAGD/Ministry of Education worker with staff number 79446 appeared four times on the list, having collected loans in June, September, October and December.
Others include employees of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the Ministry of Justice, the Northern Regional Administration and the Audit Service.
The report said the errors may have arisen as a result of poor data entry into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Database (IPPD) system and ineffective verification and review mechanisms over payroll processing and reporting.
The IPPD system is an integrated system for the administration and processing of government payroll for both active and retired government employees. The government wage bill for these employees, which is a committed expenditure, constitutes a significant percentage of total government expenditure. There are currently 730,000 public sector workers earning their keep from the state purse.
To alleviate the employees' burden of undue monthly deductions, the Auditor General recommended "the immediate review of the data in the IPPD system and purge it of the anomalies."
Mr Quartey urged the Controller and Accountant General to ensure that supervision over the Data Entry Officers at the IPPD Unit to be strengthened and made more effective in order to minimise the risk of errors.
However, in a management response to the issues raised, the Controller and Accountant-General explained that, "the large loan balances in the IPPD System are balances in respect of staff whose salaries had been suspended. On re-activation of the staff records after the re-denomination of the cedi the balances still reflected the old currency."
"The CAGD has worked over the period to correct these errors. However, the ledgers which form the basis of reporting on vehicle loans in the Public Accounts are maintained outside of the payroll system and reflect the redenominated balances. The actual balances as at 31st December, 2011 of the staff noted in the audit observation and which are incorporated in the Public Accounts are available."