By Amin Kef Sesay
On January 14th, 2021 the Financial Secretary, Sahr Lahai Jusu, while addressing Vote Controllers at his George Street Office, sternly gave them a three-week grace period for the submission of their implementation plans of the 2019 Audit Report recommendations.
He warned them that the implementation plan will be captured in the Performance Tracking Table (PTT) and if they fail there will be a strong remedial measure which will lead to suspension.
Sahr Jusu furthered that the main challenge they are faced with is that many of their offices do not recognize the audit process and recommendations adding how the above challenge was discussed extensively with the country’s leadership.
“It is a fact because if you sit down as a Vote Controllers and an auditor asks you about your travel and you have to respond it means you need to take the audit seriously,” the Financial Secretary stated further blaming Vote Controllers for not treating the Auditor General’s representative seriously as when she sends her audit staff the Vote Controllers just send them to someone else.
“It is not the accountant that controls the vote it is the Vote Controller. You should pay keen attention during the audit and response process, but when they go to the provinces and come with that Management Letter and the accountant says this is it and then you sign you are indicting yourself,” he warned as he highlighted issues raised in the 2019 Auditor General’s report.
He promised that they will continue to provide support to the agencies that provide oversight to Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) as issues of audit in the reports will help them to improve on processes and procedures.
Issues of compliance to laws, procurement and public financial management formed part of the Emphasis of Matter in the Auditor General’s “Unqualified Opinion” on the 2019 Report.
Cabinet Secretary, John Sumaila, stressed also that MDAs will be required to give full support to the process in Parliament noting the sensitivity of the issues involved and the initial reaction that has been coming from the public.
This, he says, has become compelling for the leadership of MDAs to come together to consider how to minimize the adverse issues in the Audit Reports.
He encouraged them to improve on the findings and retrieval of documents by cooperating with auditors through the releasing of records and documentation. “Uphold internal controls established in MDAs to ensure that the business of Government is carried out in an orderly and efficient manner, respond to audit queries and that should be done in addressing issues raised in the audit report, support internal auditors or else we will institute punitive measures for failure to implement audit recommendations as it has been included in the PTT.”
Other speakers were the Accountant General, Director of Internal Audit, and the Commissioner-General of the National Revenue Authority.
Vote Controllers were allowed to make comments on the issues discussed.