The Chief Executive of the Kufuor Foundation, Prof Baffuor Agyemang-Duah has stated that there is nothing wrong with cars being auctioned to judges.
The governance expert however said that questions can be raised about the ethical grounds of the act.
He noted that it has been a long standing practice to auction cars to all senior public officials and political elites in the country.
According to him, it will only take new laws to be promulgated to ban the practice which he believes has been created to reward the political class.
His comment comes on the back of the 2021 Auditor General’s report which cites some judges for purchasing cars at ‘ridiculously’ low amounts through an auction.
He continued “This is not new. It’s been part of our system for decades. Most senior public officials do walk away with such vehicles at basement prices. It is not new and it is not only limited to the justices. All senior public officials, university Vice Chancellors, government agencies, CEOs and their deputies, you can name them, it has been going on for years.”
“So it tells me that this is a system we have created to reward the bureaucratic and political elite. If we want to be serious about it, we have to simply create a new system that will prevent that. Right now, there’s nothing illegal about it. You can raise ethical issues about it. I think they have responded. They paid for it. Whoever auctioned them at those prices are the people we need to hold accountable but the system itself is rotten.”
The Auditor-General cited 19 past and current judges of Ghana’s superior courts for acquiring state vehicles – a move that contravenes Regulation 158 of the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (L.I. 2378).
The said law, Regulation 158, provides that the Principal Spending Officer of a covered entity shall obtain the prior written approval of the Minister for the transfer, exchange, sale, donation, contribution-in-kind, trust and any other disposal of any vehicles of the covered entity.
It further indicates that any such disposal, lease and other action referred to in Sub-regulation 1 that is made without the written approval of the Minister, is void.
However, the 2021 Auditor-General’s report states that the vehicles were “auctioned by the Service for GH¢1,023,507.96 without approval from the Minister of Finance.”
Some of the judges who were found culpable of the law included recently retired Supreme Court Justices Yaw Appau, E.K Mensah and Julius Ansah, all of who were found to have acquired state-owned vehicles contrary to the provisions of this law.
The Auditor-General has recommended the nullification of the auction of vehicles to the judges and wants the vehicles recovered.