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A-G’s advice to Auditor-General was wrong – James Avedzi

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, says it is good the Auditor-General has disregarded the advice from the Attorney-General concerning the publication of the Covid-19 report.

According to him, the Attorney-General calling the report’s publication premature and unconstitutional because it had not been first discussed by parliament and further advising that the report be unpublished was wrong advice.

“I am happy that the Auditor-General has disregarded the advice from the Attorney-General. I said it last week that this advice is a wrong advice therefore the Auditor General should not heed to that advice and I am happy the report is still at the website of the Auditor General,” he said on JoyNews’ PM Express.

According to him, the laws of Ghana provide that the Auditor-General publishes his report immediately after he has presented it to the Speaker.

This he said is due to the fact that oftentimes debates on audit reports are delayed sometimes by years, thus if the logic of the Attorney-General is anything to go by, it implies that Ghanaians would be kept in the dark for years before issues of national interest like the audit report is brought to the limelight.

“187 (6) says that parliament shall debate the report. Now when that debate will take place is not stated by the constitution. You’ll recall that in the past we used to have Auditor General’s report in arrears of six years, seven years.

“So it means that it can take six, seven, eight years before the report will be debated. The officers who committed some of those irregularities might have retired, some might have died. So you want that report to remain and not to be known to the public until after six, seven years when the parliament is about to debate that report?” he said.

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He stressed that the Audit Service Act was created to ensure that citizens are kept in the know through the publication of the audit outcomes immediately the Speaker receives his copy.

“That gap in the constitution is what is filled by the audit service act. My understanding of the constitution is that it is the mother law. It is not that detailed. So for specific item in the constitution, there is a law that is passed by parliament to give effect to the provisions of the constitution. So the Audit Service Act which is Act 584 was passed by parliament to give effect to article 187 of the constitution.

“And in that act because the parliament is mindful of the gap in the constitution that after the report has been submitted by the Auditor General to parliament and it can take more years or a very longer time for the parliament to debate the public cannot be in the darkness without knowing the content of that report.

“So Section 23 of the Audit Service Act specifically says that the Auditor General shall publish his report as soon as the report has been submitted to the speaker to be laid. The section did not even say that the report should be laid before he publishes his report; it says that as soon as the Auditor General submits his report to the Speaker to be laid he must publish it. So if the Auditor General after submitting the covid-19 report to the Speaker and went ahead to publish it what wrong has he committed?”

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