Government paid judgement debts totalling GH¢283 million to individuals and companies between 2017 and 2019.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta told Parliament that the government paid the debts due to court orders for breaches of contracts, largely compensations for personal injury claims and acquisitions, “which cannot be ignored”.
Mr Ofori-Atta was answering a question in the name of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Mion, Mohammed Abdul-Aziz, on how much government has paid in judgment debts from January 2017 to date.
Answering the question, he said in January 2017 the outstanding judgement debt that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government came to meet totalled GH¢482 million. In addition, Mr Ofori-Atta said a number of cases had been pending in court.
He said government had no choice but to pay 42% of the outstanding debt, which was approximately GH¢94 million yearly, due to the garnisheeing of government’s accounts and the re-negotiations held.
He said the phenomenon and quantum of judgement debts is a deplorable development and can distort the budget as they result from unpredictable breaches in contracts and unethical behaviours of officers who have been entrusted with the responsibility to take care of the public purse.
Mr Ofori-Atta said government’s approach was to renegotiate most of the judgement debts and ensure that the country made as much savings as possible and continued to protect the public purse.
In that regard, he said, it had begun taking some measures, including prioritising judgement debt cases within the legal department of the Ministry of Finance; ensuring proper settlement records and working closely with the Attorney General.