By Abubakarr Harding
In a Media Release by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) dated 24th February, 2023it was stated that this Third (3rd) Serialized Media Release provides further update and informs the general public, on the actions taken so far on issues raised in the Auditor General’s Report of 2021.
According to the ACC, those interventions are focusing on aspects of possible or alleged corruption and conducts inconsistent with the provision(s) in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019.
The ACC stated that after a thorough review and analysis of the aforementioned Report, the Commission initiated actions with a view to investigating, prosecuting or recovering of public funds, public revenue, public property, as may be necessary, in accordance with Sections 7 and 48 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, respectively.
The Commission stated that it has recovered Public Resources in the total sum of Two Billion, Thirty Six Million, Six Hundred and Sixty Five Thousand, Six Hundred and Seven (Old) Leones, and Six (Old) Cents (Le2,036,665,607.6).
It stated that the Auditor-General’s Report of 2021 highlighted that Government Technical Institute (GTI ) in Bo failed to pay Withholding Taxes of Eleven Million, One Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Four (Old) Leones, Fifty Cents (Le 11,150,254.50) to the National Revenue Authority (NRA) for transactions carried out for the period under review.
The ACC said its investigation has established that the withholding taxes were deducted by the GTI Finance Office but faced challenges to effect payment to NRA portal system introduced for such payment to be done.
It continued that the amount highlighted in the 2021 Audit Report, in the sum of Eleven Million, One Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Four (Old) Leones, Fifty Cents (Le 11,150,254.50) has been paid into the Commission’s Bank Account and ACC has acknowledged the payment and issued receipt to GTI.
In that regard, the matter has been accordingly recommended for closure.
According to the ACC, the 2021 Auditor General’s Report further highlighted that Withholding Taxes were not deducted and paid to the NRA by the Port Loko City Council, amounting to Fourteen Million, One Hundred and Fourteen Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty Six (Old) Leones (Le14, 114,746).
However, the ACC said its investigation has established that the Withholding Taxes were not paid by the PLCC to the NRA, that the Port Loko City Council has, however, made payment of the Withholding Taxes amounting to Ten Million (Old) Leones (Le10,000,000) to the ACC through its North-West Regional Office in Port Loko, with a balance of Four Million, One Hundred and Fourteen Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty Six Leones (Le4,114,746).
The ACC said the File remains active until the issue has been resolved, with the payment of the remaining money.
The Audit Report of 2021 further revealed that the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) contributions for staff were not deducted by the Kambia District Council and paid, amounting to, One Hundred and Thirty Eight Million, Five Hundred and Eighty One Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty Eight (Old) Leones (Le138, 581,558).
The ACC investigation confirmed that the said NASSIT contributions were not deducted and paid, even though the issue was inherited from the past Council Administration and Court action has been instituted against the Council by the Management of NASSIT
It further revealed that preliminary discussions are underway on the preparation of Payment Plan by the Council, with the NASSIT Team.
The ACC said it has therefore instructed that all efforts be made so that the contributions owed to NASSIT by the Council be paid.
It was also highlighted in the Audit Report of 2021 that Withholding Taxes amounting to One Hundred and Twenty Three Million, Eight Hundred and Thirteen, One Hundred and Forty Nine (Old) Leones (Le123, 813,149) were not paid to the NRA. Also, the Audit Report of 2021 stated that, the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes were not deducted and paid to the National Revenue Authority amounting to Six Million, Four Hundred and Sixty Four Thousand (Old) Leones (Le6,464,000).
However, the ACC investigation established that the Port Loko District Council made payment of Withholding Taxes at various Commercial Banks but receipts were not issued out, not until of late when receipts were received from Zenith and Union Trust Banks remaining VISTA Bank.
It revealed that the National Revenue Authority (NRA) payment receipts have been submitted to the Commission which are yet to be verified with the National Revenue Office in Makeni.
The ACC said the Port Loko District Council has already made payment into the ACC Account with the Access Bank, in the sum of, Six Million, Four Hundred and Sixty Four Thousand (Old) Leones (Le6,464,000) relating to the PAYE.
It stated that meanwhile, the ACC is currently working with the NRA office in Makeni to verify the receipts submitted by the Port Loko District Council in regard the payment of Withholding Taxes to the NRA. The issue of the PAYE has been accordingly recommended for closure, since the matter has been resolved.
The Commission stated that it shall continue to promptly update the public through Media Releases on its interventions in regard the Auditor General’s Reports of Sierra Leone.
It concluded that in the spirit of partnership, the ACC will continue to thank and appreciate Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) for their diligence and commitment in combating corruption in Sierra Leone and Parliament for their sustained and unflinching support.