By Amin Kef Sesay
Sierra Leone’s Anti-Graft Boss. Francis Ben Kaifala has manifested dogged and renewed determination to ensure that nothing is spared to get at the bottom of missing billions of Leones as encapsulated in the 2018 Auditor General’s report. The 2018 Audit General’s report, which was released late in December 2019, disclosed huge financial indiscipline in the country.
According to the Report a total of Le140 billion (about US$15million), said to be public fund went down the drain unaccounted for. The Auditor General’s report gives an annual account of the Sierra Leone Government’s account, covering all publicly funded institutions.
Past Tuesday, 7th January 2020, the ACC convened a press conference where it raised issues with some of its observations in the 2018 report, particularly areas where there were material losses within the public service which the Commission believes could have been prevented.
According to ACC Commissioner, his institution will prioritize looking at issues at the Ministry of Finance since it has a lot of questions to answer in the 2018 report, notably staff salaries, in light of reports suggesting additional staff without supporting documents; monthly increases in employee’s basic salary; Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) with no supporting documents; as well as lack of evidence of procurement of ICT equipment.
He also made mention of unpaid taxes to the National Revenue Authority stressing that such must be recovered by the NRA and if not the ACC will step in to do so. He also mentioned Le14billion allocated to the Mamamah Airport project, money that was allocated between 2013 and 2018.
“The Ministry of Finance is responsible for fiscal discipline in the country and therefore must live by example,” Kaifala intimated journalists.
Other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) the ACC is focusing on are Local Government and Rural Development; Basic and Senior Secondary Education; Agriculture and Forestry; Transport and Aviation; Information and Communications, and the National Revenue Authority, saying all have been asked to put their house in order.
The 2018 Auditor General’s report is currently in front of the Parliament, which is expected to debate on it before action is taken accordingly.
In the past, the Report had caused friction between the House and the ACC, with the former accusing the latter of usurping its authority by acting on the Report before it’s debated by lawmakers. But this time the two institutions appear to have reached an understanding, so that the ACC has a free hand to look into and act on the Report.
The ACC Boss said it is an indication that the Government is committed to fighting graft. “The current ACC regime doesn’t consider the Auditor General’s report as a mere opinion. We consider it as a source of information which we can investigate and act on,” he stressed.