News > 34,000 Ghost Names Removed From Pensioners' Payroll
34,000 Ghost Names Removed From Pensioners' Payroll
Dr Kwabena Duffuor

A project initiated by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) in February 2011 to clear ghost names from the government’s payroll has detected and expunged about 34,000 illegal names on pensioners’ payroll in seven regions.

The ghost names represent 38 per cent of the pensioners registered so far during the project which is being executed by 3M Cogent of the United States at a cost of $2.385 million.

The project collected biometric data of some 54,544 out of the 88,467 pensioners in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta, Central, Ashanti, Western and Brong Ahafo regions.

According to the Project Co-ordinator and ICT Adviser of MoFEP, Mr George Gyamfi, even though some pensioners could not be captured, the number of those pensioners was not substantial.

“A handful of people have called to say that they have not been registered and so we have established a desk at the ministry to register them, but their number will not underestimate the figures we have,” he stated.

Mr Gyamfi told the Daily Graphic in Accra Wednesday that in some of the areas the team visited, the pensioners were dead but their names remained on the payroll, while their allowances were being claimed by unknown persons.

The registration of pensioners, he stated, would end on January 20, 2012.

The first phase of the project, which covers about 96,154 pensioners on the government’s payroll in the 10 regions, was launched by the ministry to capture pensioners who retired on the CAP 30 Pension Scheme.

According to a breakdown of figures from the MoFEP, the Greater Accra Region topped the list with 18,527 ghost names. The region has 34,013 ghost names on the  pensioners’ database but the exercise captured 15,486.

In the Eastern Region, 9,976 were registered, instead of the 14,074; the Volta Region had 6,840, instead of 8,620; Central, 5,888, instead of 8,487; Western, 4,447, instead of 7,006; Ashanti, 8,478, instead of 12,195, while the Brong Ahafo Region recorded the least with 643 ghost names.

The Brong Ahafo Region originally had 4,072 names on the database but 3,429 were captured during the exercise.

Public sector payroll expenditure constitutes a significant percentage of the government’s discretionary budget.

 However, there is a perception that the public sector payroll is bloated with fraudulent employee records and gross overpayments.
To mitigate payroll management problems, the Rawlings administration introduced the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Database II (IPPD II) in the late 1990s.

Even though some gains were recorded with the system, the government purse and payroll processes and procedures are still burdened with inefficiencies and fraudulent loopholes.

Over the years, and particularly in the recent past, there have been attempts to improve the payroll’s integrity and save cost.

Although the MoFEP and the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) had organised head counts for both active employees and pensioners on the government’s payroll to rid it of ghost names, the problem persists.

One major contributing factor for the failure of past head counts is the lack of adequate mechanisms to effectively identify ghost names on the payroll and delete them.

 Where ghost names are identified and expunged from the payroll, some more ghost names find their way back onto the payroll through fraudulent means.

It is in the light of the continued effort to ensure discipline in public finance management that the MoFEP collaborated with the CAGD and initiated the biometric registration and verification of all pensioners and active employees who live on the nation’s coffers.

The scheme is also being replicated to register all the 730,000 public sector workers and is expected to end by June 2012.

According to a source at the CAGD, the government, in 2011, committed GH¢45 million a month as wages for pensioners.

That amounted to GH¢540 million being the amount spent on pensioners’ remuneration last year.

Currently, CAGD figures reveal that the average CAP 30 pensioner receives GH¢468 monthly. This means that with the detection of the close to 34,000 ghost names, the government will save close to GH¢16 million monthly and GH¢192 million annually in wages for pensioners.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Minister of  MoFEP, Dr Kwabena  Duffuor, stated that the initiative would contribute significantly to minimising payroll fraud and facilitate the cutting down substantially of public expenditure on emoluments.

The government projects to spend close to GH¢6 billion on the wage bill of public sector employees and pensioners in 2012.
But the minister was optimistic that by the time the entire project was completed in June, the nation would have saved close to GH¢1.5 billion.

News Source : Graphic.com.gh by Seth J. Bokpe
Last updated at : 05 January,2012
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