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Govt payroll, Ghana Card linked – Initiative to eradicate ghost names

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A fully automated system of government payroll integrated with the national identification database has been launched in Accra.

The linked database is to make the use of the Ghana Card mandatory for validating newly recruited employees, the reverification of existing employees as well as pensioners on the government’s mechanised payroll system.

The linked national payroll and Ghana Card database will now replace the existing payroll control protocol in fulfilment of Section 90(2) of the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (L.I.2378) which enjoins Heads of Management Units and their human resource managers to validate their employees’ salary vouchers.

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who launched the system on the premises of the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) yesterday, said no one under the new system could hide because it was one of the ways the government was leveraging digitalisation to fight corruption.

Ghost names

The Vice-President said the reason for the new system was that the government had for a long time faced the problem of ghost workers on its payroll.

The practice, Dr Bawumia said, was pervasive and very costly to the government, adding that the new system would expose discrepancies very quickly because of the interoperable ecosystem that had been built.

The Vice-President described that practice as pure corruption and that “if you look at the entire public sector with a payroll getting to a million, you will have a major problem in terms of the loss of funds that we are seeing for this practice.”

“It is for this reason that over the last few years, my office has been engaged with the CAGD to find a better way of combating payroll fraud through the phenomenon of ghost workers,” Dr Bawumia said.

That was based on his conviction that linking the government payroll at the CAGD with the Ghana Card database of the National Identification Authority (NIA) provided a unique biometric identification for every individual using fingerprints or the iris, he stated.

Describing the integration as a historic and major milestone for the country, the Vice-President commended the Controller and Accountant-General, Kwasi Kwaning-Bosompem, and his staff for working tirelessly in collaboration with the NIA and the Margins Group to make the integration a reality.

While throwing more light on the operations of the system, Dr Bawumia explained that new employees would be onboarded into the system by imputing their Ghana Card (NIA) numbers which would be validated in real time before staff numbers would be generated for them.

The biometric details of newly captured employees, he said, would have to be verified through the biometric devices at the institutional level or the human resource processing centres before they receive their first salary.

“Once onboarding is done, the new employees will start receiving their salary at the next pay cycle.

Existing staff who do not have their NIA numbers on the payroll will be required to go to the NIA office to register and to submit their Ghana Card numbers to the nearest processing centres or their institutions to be captured into the payroll system,” the Vice-President added.

Verification

As part of the controls embedded in the government mechanised payroll system, Dr Bawumia said new entrants were required to undergo the biometric verification process to activate their information on the national payroll system to facilitate the monthly payment of salaries.

He said the NIA numbers were captured and were required to be used to activate newly employed employees onto the payroll system.

Dr Bawumia said the linkage between the NIA database and the government payroll would significantly contribute to eliminating the incidence of ghost names on the mechanised payroll system.

He also called on the Ministry of Finance to reconsider paying honorarium to staff of the CAGD which, he said, had not been paid for three years.

The Controller and Accountant-General urged all government employees on the payroll of the department to register and obtain their national identification cards.

That, Mr Kwaning-Bosompem explained, was because the cards were not only essential for accessing salaries and pensions but also crucial for their own empowerment and civic engagements.

Consequently, effective March this year, all employees without the Ghana Card would not be paid, he said, and urged all stakeholders to wholeheartedly embrace the new era.

Mr Kwaning-Bosompem pointed out that employee verification anywhere in the country was free and that of pensioners would be made available at their doorstep.

“By connecting our payroll system directly to the NIA database, we establish an unbreakable bond between an individual’s identity and their presence on the payroll.

 This linkage will enable us to identify and eliminate discrepancies or irregularities, ensuring that only genuine employees receive their rightful remuneration,” he emphasised.

Touting the benefits of the integration as far-reaching, the Controller and Accountant-General reiterated that it would eradicate the problem of ghost names and allow the government to redirect funds to critical areas such as health care, education and infrastructure development.

Secondly, Mr Kwaning-Bosompem said, it would enhance the efficiency of the payroll system, reduce administrative burdens and also eliminate the need for manual verification processes.

The new system would also foster transparency, accountability and instil confidence in the citizens that their hard-earned taxes were being utilised effectively.

Mr Kwaning-Bosompem said the new system would ensure that only legitimate working persons would be on the payroll, stressing that the fight against the payment of unearned salary was not an isolated battle but part of a broader commitment to good governance, transparency and accountability.
 

Highlight

Ghost workers are workers who do not exist but are placed by someone or a group of people on a payroll so that they receive salaries even though they are not employed by government.

SOURCE: GRAPHIC ONLINE