Help protect public purse (August 27, 2013) Pg 33

A senior partner of the international auding firm, KPMG, Mr Joseph B. Winful, has challenged the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG) to devise strategies to address the financial malfeasance that has, over the years, affected the public purse.

“Issues coming out of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to do with scandals, malfeasance and irregularities are as a result of the fact that accountancy practice, procedures and principles that were supposed to be effectively undertaken are flawed,” he told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a breakfast meeting in Accra to introduce the new CEO of the ICAG, Mr Fred Moore, to members of the institute.

The cataloguing of financial irregularities in the Auditor-General’s Report on ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and other state enterprises has become an annual ritual that seems to have no effect because the affected MDAs are not seen to be taking any effective actions to address the basic problems of lack of monitoring and supervision and non-adherence to legislation.

In 2011 alone, the country lost GH¢118.8 million as a result of irregularities reported by the Auditor-General. In 2009, GH¢2.5 billion was lost as a result of financial irregularities in the various MDAs.

That, Mr Winful said, should not be the case.

“The ICAG is the only accountancy body which has come into existence as a result of an act of Parliament in Ghana and if there is anything to do with the accountancy profession in Ghana, it is the ICAG that would have to address it,” he added.

Putting their expectations across, members of the institute urged the new CEO to champion the cause of safeguarding the profession against the infiltration of charlatans.

They asked him to ensure that the current system of accountancy quality monitoring (AQM) was enhanced, in addition to running an open-door policy.

Responding to those concerns, Mr Moore said the ICAG would continue its monitoring system to ensure that the work of accountancy firms met international standards.

He said the AQM was so good that a few countries, including Liberia, had expressed interest in learning from the institute.

On the institute, he said, “I have inherited a very strong institution and council. Listening to the views you have, we will see what we can do together to make our institute greater.”

The new CEO, who took over from Mr Kwasi Asante, said, “After four years, what we stand for and what we achieve should speak for themselves. We need to build a very strong brand.“

The President of the ICAG, Mrs Angela Peasah, said as a way of protecting the profession from charlatans was to regulate to ensure only qualified persons enter it.

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