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Biometric audit finds thousands of ‘ghost workers’ on Ghana’s public service payroll

Biometric audit finds thousands of ‘ghost workers’ on Ghana’s public service payroll

At least 148,000 public sector workers in Ghana cannot be biometrically identified in the database of the National Identification Authority (NIA), says Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, suggesting many of them have been earning illegitimately from the country’s public purse.

Many Ghanaian news portals including Ghana Business News (GBN) report that the VP made the disclosure recently during an address at the 2022 Internal Audit Conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, which took place under the theme ‘Injecting Fiscal Discipline in Resource Mobilisation and Utilization for Sustainable Development: The Role of Internal Auditors.’

According to Bawumia, a recent biometric audit conducted by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD), in collaboration with the NIA, reveals that of the 601,000 public sector workers in the country, the data of 148,060 of them does not match any data held by the NIA.

In other words, these workers do not have the Ghana Card, which is the country’s main ID document, and stores fingerprint biometrics.

There have been issues with the slow pace of the Ghana Card issuance, however.

The latest audit also unraveled 533 workers who had multiple identities, with some having up to three public service numbers, said the VP, adding that plans are underway to compare the data of the 148,060 workers with the database of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) – the pensions management agency.

The SSNIT has since 2021 been harmonizing its own data with that of the NIA in order to cut operational cost.

“I have heard of ghost workers, but I have never heard of ghosts who are twins or triplets,” the VP joked, as quoted by GBN, referring to the workers with multiple identifies and service numbers.

Bawumia, while highlighting the importance of internal audits, also said government is working to harmonize all national databases in order to expand the country’s revenue sources and reduce public administration spending.

He also reiterated Ghana’s resolve to modify its internal audit mechanisms in order to help the public administration better fight corruption.

Audits by Ghana’s government in the past have uncovered thousands of ghost workers, who have earned millions of dollars in underserved salaries.

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