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You have no power to surcharge Zoomlion – Supreme Court to Auditor-General

A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Jones Dotse has ruled that the Auditor-General cannot surcharge Waste Management giant, Zoomlion Ghana in a case of surcharge.

The Auditor-General surcharged the waste management firm after auditing accounts of the National Health Insurance Authority.

The Auditor-General said it found that Zoomlion had between the years 2007 and 2018 allegedly been paid a total amount of GH¢184,901,650.00.

While determining the constitutionality of the GH¢184 million surcharge slapped on Zoomlion Ghana Limited, the apex court said due to the peculiar fact of the case, the respondent is not liable to the powers of the Auditor-General.

The Supreme Court, therefore, directed the Court of Appeal to determine the case based on what the Supreme Court has said.

The court said its full reasons would be made ready at the Registry of the Court for the parties to pick up on Friday, December 4, 2020.

The panel of the apex court was giving an interpretation of the constitutional provision that gives the Auditor-General the power to disallow expenditure and surcharge people.

In October 2018, the Auditor-General, Yao Domelevo, issued a surcharge and disallowance against the waste management company for over GH¢184 million for a fumigation exercise carried out for the Ministry of Health (MOH) but which was paid by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

According to the Auditor-General, Zoomlion continued to receive payment for the fumigation exercise up to August 2018 even though the four-year contract that started in 2009 had ended.

Zoomlion appealed the decision of the Auditor-General at the Accra High Court on December 5, 2018, and urged the court to set it aside.

On January 31, 2020, the High Court presided over by Justice Georgina Mensah-Datsa dismissed the appeal.

Dissatisfied with the surcharge, on February 6, 2020, Zoomlion appealed the decision of the High Court at the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal realised that there was constitutional interpretation to the case and subsequently referred it to the Supreme Court.

The apex court was interpreting Article 187 (7) (b) (i) of the 1992 Constitution which allows the Auditor-General to “disallow any item of expenditure which is contrary to law and surcharge, the amount of any expenditure disallowed upon the person responsible for incurring or authorising the expenditure”.

Mr Riddims

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