The sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament was yesterday characterised by drama when the former and current leaderships of the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited (GTFCL) clashed over the whereabouts of payment vouchers covering an expenditure of GH¢349,094.
The ‘missing’ payment vouchers cover the period between 2011 and 2014, as captured by the Auditor General’s report for the year 2016.
The money, meant for recurrent expenditures of the company, was channelled through the staff welfare account instead of the main account of the company because the main account was garnisheed.
Whiles the former accountant of the company, Kyeremanten Tieku, insisted that the vouchers were in the office before his exit in 2014, the current accountant; Franklin Andrew maintained that the document covering the expenditure could not be traced.
Appearing before the James Klutse Avedzi chaired Committee; it was revealed that the accounts office which at the time housed the documents was burgled in 2015 leading to the loss.
Mr Kyeremanten taking his turn before the Committee admitted that the main door to the offices was burgled but not the accounts office.
He explained that the burgle was to have access to the server room and to put off the air condition upon advice by technicians to put off the equipment at the close of day on Friday.
According to him, the officer to turn off the AC in the server room was out of town and had to direct the security on duty to get a carpenter to break the door in order to have access to the server room.
On why the Welfare Account was used instead of the main account of the company for financial transactions, Mr Kyeremanten said the main account was garnisheed, adding that every amount that was spent had to be sanctioned by the Chief Executive Officer and that proper procedure was followed in releasing the funds.
“Every transaction had a voucher covering it. At the time of leaving that office, there was voucher covering every expenditure so Mr Chairman, the vouchers should be there in the accounts office,” the retiree told the Committee.
But the current accountant said “Mr Chairman, there are no vouchers covering the expenditure between the period as reported by the Auditor General.”
Point of note, however, is that between the two accountants one other person had served in an acting capacity for six months – between November 2014 and April 2015.
Richmond Brown Odoe, the accountant who came in between the two substantive officers said the burglary happened one week into his reign disassociating himself from the incident.
Interestingly, it also came to light that the Board of Directors had instructed a probe into the expenditure four months earlier before the office was allegedly broken into.
The former Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ebenezer Koney, who revealed this insisted the accounts office was burgled and he had to personally report to the La Police Command but unfortunately, the perpetrators could not be identified.
Suggested to him that the papers were deliberately discarded to seal financial malfeasance, the wheel chair bound retired boss said he had caused the Economic and Organised Crimes Office to undertake a probe into development at the company and could not support any ill motive.
Mr Avedzi after listening to the two set of officers recommended that a forensic audit was conducted into the activities of the Trade Fair Company to uncover what he considers a rot at the company.
Mr Avedzi further directed the current Chief Executive Officer of the company to ensure that all dismissed staff were paid their arrears within two weeks or report to the Committee if it could not settle them.