The 2011 Auditor General report has revealed that an amount of Gh˘ 218 million was spent on “avoidable” judgment debts.
According to the document, the government continued to incur huge expenditure on judgment debts in cases involving the failure of public officials to honour financial obligations, wrongful dismissal of government employees, reckless driving by public officials and molestation by security services.
These revelations come at a time when the government is in court battling businessman, Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome, to reclaim a little over GH˘ 51 million paid to him as judgment debt.
Ever since the payment of Mr Woyome's money was made public in December 2011, the payments of other judgment debts have dominated public discourse.
Currently, the state purse is burdened with close to GH˘2 billion in judgment debts and is still counting.
To deal with the situation, the government took two actions — the swearing-in of a Sole Commissioner to investigate the issue of judgment and settlement debts and the setting of a ceiling on judgment debts.
A breakdown of beneficiaries of the judgment debts indicated that 27 people were paid.
While African Automobile was paid GH˘4,159,010.38 as judgment debt in respect of cost of vehicles and spare parts, Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome received GH˘ 34,188,987.06 final payment for the rehabilitation of three stadia with Pai, Paaso, Ahmandi and Mankrago receiving GH˘22,336,068.00 as compensation for land acquired for the Akosombo Dam.
The list include: African Royal Beach Hotel/Hannah Anane, GH˘56,595.38 for an accident caused by a government official leading to the death of Mrs Anane; Anona Family of Ekon, GH˘10,000.00 for the wrongful release of Sofohene's body to another family for burial; Atinga Fafra, GH˘13,097.87 for the legal cost on disputed death gratuity; Balaji Gemlast Co. Ltd, GH˘1,503,200.00 for Ghana Consolidated Diamond Ltd's indebtedness to Balaji; China Jilin International CJIECT, GH˘12,566,888.49 for the non-payment for a library complex; Comfort Mensah and Anor, GH˘62,839.00 for death caused by a government vehicle and Enoch Akwasabi Gberty, GH˘859,373.00 as land compensation.
Others are: Equity Assurance, GH010,000.00 for damage caused by government official; Faustina Eworho, GH˘26,000.00 for assault on her by CEPs officials at the Aflao border; Isofoton S.A, GH˘488,280.00; J.W.S De Graft Johnson, GH˘20,000.00 for end-of-service benefits; Madam Adwoa Okyere, GH˘ 700,000.00 refund for the purchase price on sweater and socks factory; Madam Mawutor Bosso, GH˘22,363.60 for pain and suffering caused by accident involving a police motorcycle; Margins Group, GH˘324,77O.19 for distribution of Ghana @50 calendars; Modern Construction Limited, GH˘269,406.76 as judgment debt in respect of renovation of Forestry Commission property at Cantonment.
The rest are: Nana D.A. Asirifi, GH˘4,171.92 for wrongful dismissal; Nii Osae Family, Otinshie, GH˘3,500,000.00 as compensation for land in respect of Accra-Nungua Otinshie site for Scientific Instrument Center; Prof. Acheampong Yaw Amoateng, GH˘25,118 for wrongful dismissal; Tabcon Limited, GH˘5,000,000.00 as judgment debt (particular cause was not stated in the report); (Trans Tema Power Limited, GH˘4,569,293 for capacity and energy charges and other fees in respect of breach of power purchase agreement; Waterville, GH˘53,753,318.66 as settlement agreement which is the payment for works executed, loss of profit and damages for wrongful termination of contract in respect of the rehabilitation of three stadia; Wendy Rose, GH˘45,747.02 for breach of contract in the school feeding programme and Construction Pioneers, GH˘73,339,646.54 as settlement agreement in respect of certain road projects.
To minimize government expenditure on judgment debts, the Auditor General, Mr Richard Quartey, recommended that "government officials whose actions or inactions result in the imposition of judgement debts on the State should be surcharged."
"The government should sensitise public officials whose negligence leads to such losses to exercise proper judgement in the course of their official duties", he added.
Responding to the queries of the Auditor General, the Controller and Accountant-General stated in the report that, "the list provided has been grouped into the following categories:
a)Compensation for acquisition of land and other properties- GH˘26,805,441.00 and
b)Judgment Debts- GH˘ 189,562,747.00
The CAG said it had written to the Attorney-General's Department to evaluate the recommendation of the Auditor-General for necessary action."