BRITISH PARLIAMENT: SOUTH YORKSHIRE MP QUESTIONS THE
CHAIRMAN OF THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMISSION ON THE
SPENDING OF BRITISH TAX PAYERS’ MONEY IN SIERRA
Abdul R Thomas
Editor - The Sierra Leone Telegraph
11 March 2010
During Prime Minister’s question time in British
Parliament today – 11 March 2010, the South
Yorkshire Labour MP expressed grave concern that
British tax payers’ money sent to Sierra Leone is
lining the pockets of corrupt ministers in Sierra
Below is an excerpt from the
proceedings in Parliament this morning:
Hugh Bayley (City
of York - Labour Party): How many days National
Audit Office staff spent in developing countries
when auditing the expenditure of the Department
for International Development in 2009?
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough):
I have been asked to reply.
During 2009, National Audit Office (NAO)
staff spent a total of 183 days in developing
countries as part of the NAO’s financial and
value for money audit work relating to DFID.
That total includes days spent in developing
countries both by NAO employees and by employees
of audit firms that the NAO engaged to assist it
with its audit of DFID’s annual resource
Hugh Bayley: That
amounts to barely two days per country in which
DFID has programmes—programmes that involve
billions of pounds.
Today the International Development
Committee published its annual report on DFID’s
performance and said that although it welcomes
the continued rise in DFID’s budget, it is
concerned that DFID’s staff is being reduced,
making it harder to ensure that money is well
spent in the field.
Will the hon. Gentleman ask the Public
Accounts Commission to get the Comptroller and
Auditor General to look at the problem, write a
report and consider whether additional audit
staff are needed to ensure that DFID money is
well spent in the field?
Mr. Leigh: Constitutionally,
the Comptroller and Auditor General is, quite
rightly, completely independent in what he
determines to study for the Public Accounts
Commission and the Public Accounts Committee.
However, the hon. Gentleman makes a very good
point, which I shall relay to the Comptroller
and Auditor General.
To be completely clear, the NAO has
worked recently—this year—in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Malawi, Ghana,
Kenya and India, so it takes very seriously the
work of DFID and will continue its work.
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham
– Labour Party): Through the hon. Member for
South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter), I request that
the National Audit Office look
particularly—[HON. MEMBERS: “Wrong one!”] I am
terribly sorry—I mean the Chairman of the Public
Accounts Committee; forgive me.
Will the hon.
Gentleman look specifically at how DFID money in
Sierra Leone is spent? An hon. Member and other
friends have just come back from there with the
most alarming stories of diversion of DFID aid
into the pockets of Ministers down there, and we
really need to get Sierra Leone under full
Mr. Leigh: That
is an extremely good point. I shall of course
relay the right hon. Gentleman’s point of view
to the Comptroller and Auditor General, and I am
sure he would be very happy to undertake a study
in Sierra Leone if that were indeed appropriate.
proceedings in the British Parliament could be
quite damaging for President Koroma's
government, if those allegations are proved to
be true. They will also confirm the accusations
made by the main opposition party, civil society
groups and the media.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph
will be speaking to the South Yorkshire MP and
will bring you more on this story as it
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