Journal of Economics and Business

ISSN 2615-3726 (Online)

ISSN 2621-5667 (Print)

Published: 14 December 2020

Exorcising the “Ghosts” from the Government Payroll in Developing Countries in the Wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic: Ghana’s Empirical Example

Richmond Sam Quarm, Rosemond Sam-Quarm, Richmond Sam-Quarm

University of Education (Ghana), Ghana Audit Service (Ghana), mPharma Ghana Ltd (Ghana)

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Pages: 1558-1571

Keywords: Biometric registration, CAGD, E-SPV, Establishment Warrant, GAS, Ghost workers, Last Pay Certificate, MDAs/MMDAs, Management Units, Payroll fraud, Separated Staff


The salary payment of government workers constitute a significant percentage of total government expenditure in developing economies, simply because the government remains the largest or biggest employer. The Government Payroll system, therefore, requires a robust control mechanism to detect and prevent the occurrence of “payroll fraud”, as the irregularity denies the state of huge sums of monies going down the drain and into private pockets, and which could have otherwise been channelled into some critical sectors of the economy; and to minimise the excessive borrowing by government to fill the gap. The several efforts and reforms by the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) and the Ghana Audit Service (GAS) in particular; and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in general, to clean the Government Payroll of these “payroll frauds” consistently over the years have not yielded the desired results. The various studies conducted on “payroll fraud” in Ghana did not address themselves to the introduction of the “Electronic-Salary Payment Voucher (E-SPV) system since 2014, which was hailed by many as the final panacea to the “annual ritual of ghost workers on the government payroll”. To fill the gap, we conducted this empirical cross-sectional research on “payroll fraud” based on the “fraud triangle theory” and the “graft estimation model”. We employed non probability purposive, but convenient, sampling methodology by means of structured questionnaires and face-to-face interviews to arrive at our conclusion. Our major finding was that “payroll fraud” can never be eliminated (but only minimised), and must therefore be treated and necessarily managed to the barest minimum (between 1% and 5%), just as normal “bad debts” in Financial Statements. Policy makers will have to revisit the issues about “Ghost Workers”, in the midst of the novel and dreaded, and disastrous Convid-19 pandemic.


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