A five-member audit committee, mandated to ensure proper and effective financial management practices at the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation has been inaugurated today Wednesday 16th February 2022, in Accra.
This is in accordance with the provisions in Sections 86 and 87 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), which require that all government institutions establish audit committees.
Delivering her address at the inauguration, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP), Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, said public financial management systems are key to transparent and accountable governance and that a country without an effective public financial management system risks underdevelopment due to the loss of public funds.
She therefore charged the Audit Committee to fulfil its responsibilities under Section 88 of the PFM Act, the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (LI 2378), the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended, the guidelines for effective functioning of audit committees and other applicable financial laws.
The sector Minister further indicated that, corporate governance is about establishing processes and structure to ensure reliable achievement of corporate objectives.
Emphasizing that, the Audit Committee is a high-level corporate governance committee which adds to the effectiveness of public accountability and the efficient use of state resources.
The sector Mynister disclosed that, “In the last two years we’ve seen much improvement in our cash management controls, procurement management systems, financial reporting, payroll management, stores management, fixed assets management, fuel management controls, service level opinions, project management controls, including governance practices at all levels in the Ministry’s operations.
We are also managing a very big World Bank project, which benefits from the oversight committee (i.e. the E-Transform Project). Now, it’s unprecedented that we got additional funding from the World Bank which exceeded the original funding of $97m which was allocated to this project. And the additional funding was about $110m which was more than the original funding.
This, she said was due to the importance of digitalisation to government, and the work that has been done, and the efficient management of those resources that made it possible for them to even get more.
She also disclosed that, “now we’re in the process of completing a successor project to the E-Project, which will end in 2023, (That’s the Ghana Digital Acceleration Project). And the lessons from the previous one has made it possible for us to start working on an envelope of $200m for the digital acceleration project, which is even more than the E-Transform Project.
Again, she said it’s important that the lessons that we’ve learnt in the management of this project be transferred to subsequent ones, with the hope that working with the Internal Audit Unit, they would have proper financial oversight over this project as well, which will enable them to also unlock further treasures.
According to the Communications Minister, “this year, internal audit would conduct reviews in the following targeted areas; Contract Management, Quarterly interim financial report, e-Transform protect, Information management and security, Girls in ICT programme, reviews Annual reports from its agencies, Budget preparation and implementation and Cash and treasury management system in the Ministry.
We are also in the process of establishing an enterprise risk management system within the Ministry, and we expect the Audit Committee to support us in that respect.
I like openness and honesty in everybody, and so I expect nothing short of full uprightness, candor, knowledge sharing and maximum commitment from all the members of the new committee. And we’re ready to work with you to address any issue that may arise in the course of your duties.”
The Director-General, Internal Audit Agency, Dr. Eric Oduro Osae, who swore in the five-member committee, congratulated, and urged them to bring their rich experience to bear on the Ministry’s operations and performance with particular emphasis on enterprise risk management, good corporate governance, and global best practices.
He drew the members attention on the fact that, the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) expects them to work hand in hand with the Ministry in their effort to attain stated goals.
Noting that, “the functions of the Audit Committee as provided by the Public Financial Management (PFM) 2016 (Act 921) are mandatory, advisory and supportive roles.
“Therefore, I expect the Audit Committee to facilitate, support, persuade, advise, help establish and be highly interested in sound governance and internal controls of all its five elements such as control environment, risk assessment of financial and operational activities, control activities, information communication and monitoring activities, to ensure that established controls are working as intended,” Dr. Eric Oduro Osae, stressed.
Dr. Oduro Osae, said: “l believe if the newly sworn members perform their work well, then the IAA will have no need to battle with them” and urged the members to work hand-in-hand with the Ministry and not act as administrative wing for management.
He was of the conviction that, expertise of the members of the Committee would be brought to bear on their professional duties to support the Ministry to run effectively.
Mrs. Magdalene Apenteng, Chief Director at the Ministry, in her welcome note said, the importance of the Audit Committee in corporate governance cannot be overemphasized.
“There is a saying that literally states that “the one who cuts the path wouldn’t know how straight or crooked it is”, and this is where the Audit Committee comes in handy to support Management in ensuring that good governance practices and best risk management culture are always observed in the Ministry
It is gratifying to note that the Hon. Minister herself has set very high financial management standards in the Ministry and follows through closely on how Management applies its scarce resources.
It is also noteworthy that the Hon. Deputy Minister has accepted to be the Lead advocate for Risk Management for the Ministry,” the Chief Director emphasized. She was hopeful that, the new Committee will follow up and continue from where the previous Committee ended their term of office, under the chairmanship of Dr. Amuzu, to help the Ministry maintain the standards already set.
The Committee is chaired by Mr. Kwabena Hemeng-Ntiamoah, Internal Audit Agency; the other members are Mr. Thomas Nii Ashaley Thompson-Aryee, Internal Audit Agency, Mrs. Agnes Too Yeboah, ICAG, Mr. Charles Mensah, member, and Mrs. Dora Darkwa Mensah, also a member of the committee.
Mr. Kwabena Hemeng-Ntiamoah, on behalf of the Committee assured the IAA and the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation that, they will work very hard as required and provide professional direction in accordance with the rules of engagement.