Government has described as unfortunate assertions by the Auditor-General that a directive from the President to proceed on his accumulated annual leave was done in bad faith.
According to the government, the Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelevo should have exercised restraint and circumspection in his address to the Office of the President on the matter.
The political undertone, it said, is unbecoming of an Auditor-General of the republic bearing in mind that the position is an office and not a person such that in his/her absence it will stop to exist.
Secretary to the President Nana Bediatuo Asante, in a letter to Mr. Domelevo noted that the President’s directive was based on sound legal principles, the rule of law and good governance.
Ghanaians, he said, cannot therefore be misled by his lack of understanding of the position of the law.
A letter from the Presidency dated 29th June 2020 directed the Auditor-General to take his accumulated annual leave of 123 working days from Wednesday 1st July 2020.
The number of days has now accumulated to 167 days, including the leave for 2020.
The President’s decision to Direct Mr. Domelevo, it said, is based on sections 20(1) and 31 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651), which apply to all workers, including public office holders such as the Auditor-General.
According to the Act, a worker is entitled to annual leave with full pay in a calendar year of continuous service, which cannot be relinquished or forgone by the worker or the employer.
Mr. Bediatuo expressed displeasure that a response letter from Domelevo was circulated in the media and on social media before it was even delivered at the Office of the President.
He noted that the power to appoint the Auditor-General is vested in the President and the appointment done in accordance with Article 70 of the Constitution.
“Per article 297 (a) of the Constitution, the power to appoint includes the power to ‘exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in any such office’. Thus, to the extent that you failed to comply with a basic term of your appointment such as taking annual leave, the President has the power to exercise disciplinary control over you to ensure that you comply with the terms of your appointment.”
“The exercise of that constitutional power vested in the President does not affect the independence of your office, which the Constitution so rightly guarantees. Article 187 (1) of the Constitution and section 10 (2) of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584) state that the office of the Auditor-General is a public office and is subject to the labour laws of Ghana and unless there is a specific enactment that applies to the terms of his appointment to the contrary, the provisions of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) (Labour Act) applies.”
“Section 1 of the Labour Act, which is headed ”Scope of application provides as follows: The Act applies to all, and to all employers except the Armed Forces, the Police Service, the Prison Service and the Security and Intelligence Agencies specified under the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 (Act 526).”
“The office of the Auditor-General is not part of the categories of workers excluded from the scope of application of the Labour Act,” portions of the letter read.
Mr. Domelevo, he said, is entitled to 44 working days in a calendar year of continuous service, however, since his appointment to the office he has taken only nine days out of the 132 working days of the annual that has accumulated over 2017, 2018 and 2019.
He noted that since the Auditor-General has decided to add his 2020 annual leave, the directive of the President is therefore amended to 167 working days.
Null & void notice
Secretary to the President described as null and void a notice by Mr. Domelevo that Deputy Auditor-General, Benjamin Cudjoe, will act in his stead but cannot represent him at the board.
The Auditor-General, he said, is a master of the Audit Service Act but cannot insert any exception contrary to the Audit Service Act.
“Section 6 (5) of the Audit Service Act gives the person acting in your absence the power to attend a meeting of the Board and form part of the quorum for a Board meeting.”
“The Auditor-General has no power to amend that provision of the law to determine whether the person acting on his behalf can or cannot attend the meeting of the Board,” he stated.
He indicated that per Section 31 of the Labour Act, Mr. Domelevo cannot also forgo his annual leave and that any agreement to relinquish the entitlement to his annual leave is void.
“Accordingly, you cannot forgo your accumulated annual leave. Furthermore, you cannot offer to take cash in exchange for your accumulated annual leave. Such an offer, if accepted, would amount to an agreement, which would be void under section 31 of the Labour Act,” he added.
Mr. Bediatuo stressed that the President does not think the Auditor-General’s work is embarrassing his government contrary to what has been put out in the public domain.
President Akufo-Addo, he said, provided all the necessary resources needed for the efficient running of the office of the Auditor-General and considers its work a critical part of good governance in the Republic.