Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 January 2021:
Sierra Leone’s Auditor General – Lara Taylor-Pearce and the Anti-Corruption Commissioner – Francis Ben Kaifala, were both last week summoned by the country’s Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament – Sengepoh Solomon to answer questions about the Audit Reports.
Responding to several concerns raised by the Committee, regarding press conferences held by the ACC and the AG Office respectively on the COVID-19 Audit, the Auditor General said she is not oblivious of the role of the Public Accounts Committee.
She said that she had to hold a press conference in defence of the reputation and integrity of her Office which was questioned in regard to the 47 laptops and generator mentioned her Audit Report.
When questioned about the authority of the Audit Service to conduct special audits without the warrant of the President or the approval of Parliament, she promised to seek legal interpretation from the Supreme Court regarding that authority.
In light of similar concerns raised, the ACC Commissioner – Francis Ben Kaifala, said that the ACC has not acted on the Auditor General’s Report of 2019, except the COVID-19 Audit due to its sensitivity and the fact that Parliament had gone on its annual recess.
He said the ACC acted in good faith, and not to undercut the role of Parliament, but to redeem the image of the country at a time when civil society organizations and the media had populated their spaces with contents of the COVID-19 Audit and the Auditor General’s Report on the accounts of Sierra Leone for 2019.
Speaking about the alleged missing 47 laptops, the 65 KVA Generator and recovery of cash to the tune of Le 274 Million, the ACC Commissioner said that consistent with global best practice, Audit Reports are the property of Parliament, and the ACC being the creature of Parliament to fight corruption is only playing a complementary role to that effect.
In his opening remarks, the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the PAC, Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas said the PAC is appreciative and supportive of the work of the ACC and commended the ACC Commissioner and Team for doing a wonderful job which has attracted a lot of accolades and awards for the Commission.
However, he advised the ACC to carry-on with their investigations but to avoid making commentaries on the substance of the Audit Reports.
He also said that the PAC is determined to take the leadership going forward, in coordinating the ACC, Audit Service and NPPA in the fight against corruption, ensuring accountability in governance.