Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu has called on the Auditor-General to make its reports available to Parliament to allow legislators to effectively peruse such documents.
He said the Auditor-General is a tool for Parliament in exercising its oversight responsibilities and urged the outfit to make its findings and reports available to Parliament, before making them public.
He cited instances, where parliamentarians raised issues with the Auditor-General, but it was realised that such inaccurate reports had already been put in the public domain.
“In many instances when the report has come to Parliament, we find out that many times the Auditor-General has gotten it wrong and yet he has gone out there to scandalise and vilify personalities,” the Majority Leader said.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah Bonsu threw the caution at an engagement of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs with journalists of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) on the activities of the Ministry.
The conversation was on the theme: “Enhancing the visibility of Parliament: The Role of the Media.”
The Majority Leader said, “Increasingly, we are finding situations, where the Auditor-General after they finish with the work before they transmit it to Parliament, will organize press conferences and take some people to the cleaners.”
“In an established democracy, the Auditor-General is a tool for Parliament in the performance of our oversight responsibilities.”
“When Parliament has taken a decision on that [report], Parliament then rounds up civil society organisations and indeed media practitioners to enforce whatever they will uphold in the Auditor-General’s report,” the Leader added.
He was at a loss as to why Mr. Daniel Yao Domelevo, the Auditor General recommended Disallowance of the payment of the US$1million to Kroll and Associates, which the government, through the Ministry of Finance paid.
Mr. Domelevo has also surcharged the Senior Minister, Mr. Osafo-Maafo and four other officials from the Ministry of Finance, a move, which Mr. Osafo Maafo and the four other officials from the Ministry of Finance had initiated a court action against the Auditor-General to clear their names.
Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo earlier in a letter addressed to the Auditor General dated October 8, 2019, sought to set the record straight on the matter, and also moved to challenge a $1million surcharge against him.
The Auditor-General concluded that Kroll and Associates was paid for no work done, following what he said was the persistent failure of the Senior Minister to provide proof of actual work done.
The Government of Ghana, on September 26, 2017, signed a contract with Kroll Associates for some professional services.
The contract was signed on behalf of the Government by Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, and was to take effect from February 2017.
Mr. Kyei Mensah-Bonsu decried the “naming and shaming by the Auditor-General when later evidence proved allegations already made contrary,” and expressed concern about Mr. Domelevo’s style of operation, which he said “causes a bit of tension.”
Mr. Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh, the Chairman of the National Media Commission, said journalists are bound to err but should reduce errors or limit them.
He underlined courage by journalists to use the power of the pen to nip looming national threats in the bud.
Prof Audrey Gadzekpo, a Communications Consultant and Dean of the Legon-based School of Communication Studies, said journalists should respect the dignity of institutions even as they criticize them.
“We must be critical, but how do we ensure that they do not become cynical,” Prof. Gadzekpo asked.
She urged the public to also criticize the media but observed that when the media is overly criticized, it gives a feeling that democracy does not work.
“Is your coverage fair, balanced, informative and educative enough?” she asked.
Reverend Ebenezer Ahumah Djietror, Head of the Table Office in the Parliament of Ghana, said Parliament could be considered a bastion of democracy and urged the media to work at establishing mutual trust.
He said Parliament and the Media share common agenda of human development, and it was proper that Parliament leveraged on the Media, “so that everything covered at Parliament is geared towards the development of the individual.”
Nana Agyemang Birikorang, the Dean of the PPC, called for more of such conversation, with the hope that it would be a regular feature.