ACCRA, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has exposed the fraud perpetrated by unpatriotic Ghanaians who have caused the State to lose substantial amounts of revenue through the Ghost Workers syndrome.

He revealed that through a payroll audit conducted by the Ministry of Finance in the last two months, the government has been able to suspend the payment of salaries to 26,589 “workers” from the April 2017 payroll, and that maintaining those names on the payroll was costing the government more than 433 million cedis (about 104 million US dollars) a year.

These “workers” have not come forward to be biometrically verified by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) despite numerous calls by the Controller and Accountant General to do so.

The idea of biometric verification is essentially to isolate ghost names from the payroll, the President said when he addressed organized labour at the 17th National May Day Parade at the Black Star Square in Accra Monday.

President Akufo-Addo said in addition to the biometric verification of workers, the government was undertaking initiatives to clean the payroll, including a new payment system which would integrate the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GHIPSS) platform for salaries to be paid directly to workers without any manual intervention.

He said this measure would be implemented on a test basis this month and it was envisaged to cover all workers by June, 2017.

The SSNIT has also been asked to create a separate database for the Controller and Accountant General by biometrically registering close to 200,000 CAP30 workers, President Akufo-Addo said, adding that the government payroll would now have a direct interface with this and the existing database, thus reducing payroll fraud to the barest minimum.

This would provide a complete end-to-end visibility of the entire payroll system while having a seamless integration between payroll cost and the government’s general ledger, President Akufo-Addo said. If we are to pay workers well, we must do at least two things: get rid of ghost ones and enhance the efficiency of genuine ones.