The government of Sierra Leone is bankrupt and failing to account for hundreds of millions of dollars

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 August 2017

(Photo: Poorly constructed roads in Sierra Leone – costing hundreds of millions of dollars). Pressure is mounting on the World Bank, IMF and DFID to cease funding of the Koroma government, following reports that, more than twenty-five state institutions have failed to account for hundreds of millions of dollars, despite demands by the country’s audit office.

Sierra Leone is classed as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and many in the country now believe that the Koroma ruling APC is one of the most corrupt ever to govern this poor nation, since it gained independence in 1961.

A diamond valued at more than $50 million found early this year, is strongly believed to have gone missing, though the government says that it has handed it over to a Belgium based diamond dealer for sale in the global open market.

Consecutive annual reports, published by the country’s national audit office, finds millions of dollars unaccounted for every year by the government.

In 2015, a damning report by the auditor general found more than $17 million missing from a national Fund set up to care for those dying from the deadly Ebola virus, whilst at the same time the government was taking out a $12 million loan to purchase 50 buses it said were needed for public use. But so far, there is very little evidence as to how that $12 million have been spent.

With the government’s prioritisation of  infrastructure development – roads construction, costing over $400 million, what has become clear is that roads are being poorly constructed by Chinese companies to cut costs, which means that tens of millions of dollars are being paid into the pockets of state officials by way of contract kickbacks.

Despite massive levels of corruption in high places, international donors and financiers – especially the World Bank, IMF and DFID, are continuing to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the government’s black hole, with little or no accountability.

As the people of Sierra Leone prepare to go to the polls in about seven months, there are fears that hundreds of millions will remain unaccounted for by the ruling APC, whom critics say have rigged the electoral system and redrawn the electoral boundaries, so as to win those elections in March 2018.

There is plenty of evidence of vote buying taking place across the country ahead of the 2018 polls, with ruling party presidential aspirants campaigning fiercely and spending their ill-gotten wealth.

Many in Sierra Leone are now calling for the international community to halt their funding, until the Koroma government can at least be held to account for the hundreds of millions of dollars that remain unaccounted for.

According to BBC reporter – Umaru Fofana: “A damning public notice has been issued today by the institution set up to audit the public accounts of Sierra Leone. It says dozens of state institutions have failed to submit their financial statements for auditing – some for years and others since they were established.

“The auditors say they cannot estimate the exact amount because they’re not privy to the financial documents, but a source says tens – “possibly hundreds” – of millions of dollars have not been accounted for.

“The defaulting institutions include some of the biggest revenue earners and recipients of state funds. Among them are:

The National Telecommunications Commissions (NATCOM)

The Road Safety Authority

The Drugs Control Agency

The Pharmaceutical Procurement Unit

The State’s Assets Commission

The Civil Aviation Authority

The Maritime Administration

The Petroleum Regulatory Agency

The main water and electricity companies (Guma and EGTC)

The main public universities (USL and NU)

The Office of National Security

The Stock Exchange Company, and;

The main hospital board for the capital Freetown and environs.

“Consistent reports by the highly respected Audit Service Commission have pointed to widespread financial mismanagement in the public sector – a euphemism for corruption – with their findings and recommendations largely ignored,” Umaru Fofana reports.

Several of these state institutions and the government controlled commercial bank have become the piggy banks of state officials, whose combined wealth is now estimated at more than £500 million.

Sierra Leone is classed as one of the poorest nations in the world. Over 30% of pregnant women die every year due to poor health; 30% of children born today will not survive to celebrate their fifth birthday; more than 50% of the adult population will die before they get to their 50th birthday, because of poverty and poor health care.

Will the international community act to stop the massive pilfering of public funds with impunity, as the country prepares for general and presidential elections?

9 Comments

  1. Sierra Leone is bankrupt because its government continues to failing to account credibly and transparently for public funds – receipts and expenditures; respect for audit functions as a management tool for national interests optimisations; stoppages of illicit outflows from Sierra Leone of monies looted from national main and sub-treasuries, etc.

  2. I can’t just imagine how such things can happen in a country which we claimed to love. It’s really a pity for us all as Sierra Leoneans.

    When are the Beauty ones really going to be born? Lets take a close look, which of them after his tenure of office live long? With all these things they’re doing, how many of their children are doing great? All I can say is that God Almighty will surely judge them.

  3. The population of these countries are so compliant and accept the unacceptable. Many believe their fate is God or Allah’s will. They need to be empowered and made to believe that they are worthy of being valued as human beings.

    I have been to Sierra Leone 11 times since 2009. There are some amazing people there.

  4. I really get pissed off when blame is shifted to the SLPP for the current woes Sierra Leoneans are facing. The APC party has been in the driver’s seat when it comes to governance for over 30 years – and what do we have to show for it?

    In my humble opinion, the worst SLPP government cannot be compared to the best APC government. Lest we forget our history, late President Kabba’s government is the only elected SLPP government to govern our country after independence, following his predecessors, Milton and Albert Margai.

    Even Late Tejan Kabba should be vehemently commended for what he was able to accomplish during his tenure, given our country’s interrupted history by the savage internecine warfare that raged for 10 bloody years. He endeavored to make life better for Sierra Leoneans.

    He created government institutions that are capable of collecting much needed revenue for Sierra Leoneans. His government secured funding for most of the infrastructural developments that this clueless APC government is taking credit for.

    Had this APC government only followed his footsteps, Sierra Leoneans would have been be better off today. But instead, what we have seen is rampant corruption, the wholesale plunder of our natural resources and the destruction of our state institutions by this Ernest Bai Koroma Government.

    Sierra Leoneans are today poorer, destitute and more indebted than any other time in our history. So, I am very upset, and so should every well-meaning Sierra Leonean.

    And if we are really serious about stopping this type of state looting, Ernest Bai Koroma should not get away and retire in peace. He does not deserve it. He and his criminal brigade should be brought to book and indicted after they leave office for the crimes they have committed against the people of Sierra Leone.

  5. Sierra Leone is in a sorry state. The only political leader who loved Sierra Leone and wanted progress was Sir Milton Margai. After him, we have just voted in thieves as leaders. Their corruption is worse than the Brits whom they learnt it from.

    Sierra Leone needs to go back to basics. Start on health; bring back Sanitary Inspectors who go around and check houses and give inoculations. Clean the hospitals and have running hot and cold water – extremely viral in hospital environment. Clean the gutters and streets.

    Then focus on real education – not schools set up privately. Support schools with materials that will bring standards to a recognisable international standard. Proper public transport as was in existence in the 50s and early 60s.

    Road construction should be of the standard of the 50s and early 60s. Sierra Leone has been destroyed by greedy politicians whose only interest is lining their personal pockets.

  6. Just typical of the APC Government and the former SLPP…. they are all at it… promise the people the earth….get into office, and then they live the life of old Riley.. Big houses, girlfriends, big cars, kids sent overseas for education, Swiss bank accounts, you name it they are at it ….

  7. I am sure both the government and related people know excatly where the money is. This is the first time ever in Sierra Leone where funds donated for development is missing.

    How can the APC government answer questions when their pockets are well lined. Sierra Leone is in grave situation in which no one else sees except being a politician. President Koroma followed Siaka Stevens and all those who have ruled excluding the army.

    The APC governments have been led or influenced by people who do not like the country. MAY GOD OR ALLAH HELP SIERRA LEONE “ONE PEOPLE ONE COUNTRY”

  8. Last time I was in Sierra Leone, I was watching the construction of the road through Allen town, and got into a heated arena with a Chinese road constructor about the way they were constructing the road.

    I don’t profess to be an expert in this field, but I know that a good bed is required before the gravel and tarmac is laid. What I saw was a disgrace – real shoddy workmanship.

    • It is really painful for us in Sierra Leone. The fault is that APC government has privatised our country for their own individual gains.

      The 2000-2007 Kabbah presidency and it’s positive changes, cannot compared to this criminal presidency. President Koroma has divided this country tribally, which is destroying Kabbah’s legacy.

      After 10 years in governance, they can’t point out to any institutional building. They have succeeded in destroying our education, economy, justice and social systems. It’s a great pain for the future of Sierra Leone.

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