Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, says the Ministry was working to address challenges with payment of arrears to contractors while ensuring that due diligence was done to avoid paying fraudulent claims.
He said it was important for the Ministry to be careful on issues of payments and releases, thus efforts were ongoing to upscale its systems to ensure that government contracts were awarded and managed more orderly.
He made the statement on Monday, when he briefed financial and economic journalists on macro and fiscal developments in Ghana’s economy and progress with the implementation of the 2018 budget.
Mr Ofori-Atta noted that the incidence of over-pricing of contracts in the past, made it a challenge to approve and releases funds without due diligence.
“…for me, personally, it’s a challenge to pay out if I am not sure; that I may be crystallising a debt that may be 43 or 46 per cent beyond, looking at what the Auditor-General came out with, where about 43 per cent of these could not be validated,” he said.
The Auditor General, he said, audited GHC11 billion in arrears claims, inherited from the previous government, and validated about 57 per cent of that amount.
“The arrears situation we inherited is something that should not have happened in the first place but they have happened and as recently as a few weeks ago the auditor general came out to validate about 57 per cent of the amount. One has to be really careful about payments and releases,” he stated.
He acknowledged that being careful may create collateral damage for contractors, who may have legitimate claims but noted that, the Ministry had a strategy to pay at least 20 per cent of the validated claims.
“The Roads Minster has also gone through his validation and will bring these up to us” he said, adding that, the Ministry will have re-assessments every quarter to see if any extra payments could be made.
“We are very cognisant of this and the empathy level is high, so that those who need to work can work. It’s an area that we’re constantly having to re-examine and tackle,” he said, noting that, some of the arrears had been paid.