7,000 ghost names removed from gov’t payroll

An audit of government workers has produced 7,000 non-existent employees benefiting from payments from state coffers.

The number of ‘ghost names’ detected are for the first few months of 2020 and could increase by the close of the year.

Confirming the development, acting Controller and Accountant General, Mr Kwasi Kwaning-Bosompem, said the anomalies were found during a country-wide audit to validate the government payroll.

This has been a perennial problem as the government spends over 60% of revenue on emoluments stifling infrastructural development.

the Auditor-General’s Department has also expressed worry over what it said was 45% of the country’s revenue being spent on 600,000 workers on the government’s payroll.

Mr Kwaning-Bosompem further expressed optimism of dealing with the challenges which significantly drains the government’s purse.

“Today, it will be very difficult to bring ghost names onto the payroll; besides, the department does not capture names onto the payroll as this is done at the ministries, departments and agencies’ level through the Public Services Commission before we get new entrants onto our system,” he said.

He was addressing employees in Accra during the launch of a monthly training for staff of the department.

History of payroll fraud

Authorities have made several attempts to deal with the matter with the Auditor-General’s Department indicating that it will surcharge officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who fail to ensure a clean payroll.

The government lost about GH¢564.2 million which was reported in early 2020 with the Auditor-General insisting that supervising heads of institutions would be made to refund the monies.

An exercise of by the Auditor-General unearthed 7,823 ‘ghost’ employees in 21 MDAs.


In April 2017, about 27,000 ghost names were removed according to the Finance Ministry. It was after the completion of a SSNIT biometric enrolment exercise.

As recent as April 2017, the Finance Ministry announced it had removed close to 27,000 names from the payroll at the end of a SSNIT biometric enrolment exercise. Again, a little over 23,000 names were suspended from the payroll as the individuals could not be accounted for in a nationwide headcount conducted by the Finance Ministry.

These two actions alone, the Ministry disclosed, had saved the country over 250million Ghana cedis in 2017 alone; with a monthly savings of about 35million Ghana cedis.

These two actions alone, the Ministry disclosed, had saved the country over 250million Ghana cedis in 2017 alone.


Former Finance Minister, Seth Terkper that an amount of GHC111.2 million was saved after non-existing names of about 6,000 people were cleared from the government’s payroll four years ago.

This was after government undertook a nine-month cleanup exercise from January to September 2015.


The situation was not different in 2014 When the Controller and Accountant General’s Department has to expunge 3,179 ghost names from the pay roll. In that year, the Education Ministry alone had to also eliminate 2,913 ghosts from its books.


A project was initiated by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) in February 2011 to clear ghost names from the government’s payroll. 34,000 illegal names on the pensioners’ payroll in seven regions at the time.


The Auditor-General’s Report for that year revealed that Ghana lost some GH¢2,485,697,863, representing 90.3 per cent of financial malfeasance, to ghost names on the payroll of the country’s foreign missions alone.


A task force set up by the Minister of Education in 2001 to exorcise a targeted 30,000 ghost names from the payroll of the Ghana Education Service (GES) expunged 10,000 names. Based on the 1998 Auditor-General’s Report, it was estimated that for every GH¢10 paid in wages, salaries and allowances in 1998, about 60Gp (or six per cent) was an unauthorised payment.

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