Breaking News – Sierra Leone government cannot account for hundreds of Billions of Leones

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 December 2020:

For many Sierra Leoneans who had feared a change of government in 2018 may simply usher in more of the same corruption and poor governance, today’s publishing of the country’s Auditor General’s 2019 Report into the SLPP government’s management of public funds, confirms those fears.

The report, like all previous reports, makes for disheartening reading. There is corruption and malfeasance across the corridors of almost every government ministry and department, including the Office of the President and Office of the First Lady, where millions of dollars cannot be accounted for.

Will the Anti-Corruption Commission have the courage and determination to conduct an impartial and transparent investigation?

According to the findings of the report, over 178 Billion Leones cannot be accounted for or is missing, with tens of Billions more, yet to be verified. These are some of the main highlights:

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT- 2019

Special Imprest for Overseas Travel not Retired

We observed during the period under review that special imprest provided for overseas travel, expected to be used to cover the incidental costs of the President, were not retired in accordance with Section 114 of the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2018. The sum of US$160,000 was provided, but not retired in compliance with the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2018.

It is recommended that the Secretary to the President should provide adequate retirements details in line with the provision of the law.

Official’s Response

In their response, the Office of the Secretary to the President stated that the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP) has now provided documents accounting for the expenditure which are ready for inspection. Tips given by the President and the First Lady when departing hotels and airports are difficult to capture for retirement as it is often done in haste. They said that the office committed to mitigating this difficulty in future.

Auditor’s Comment

During the audit verification exercise, management provided a list of the categories of beneficiaries for the sum of US$33,000 that summarised as follows:

Tips to local securities – $9,500
Tips to local drivers – $ 7,000
Tips to local protocols – $ 4,000
Airport courtesy – $6,000
Waiters -$ 2,000
Dispatch riders – $3,500
Welfare officers – $1,000

TOTAL – $ 33,000

It was further observed from the above list, that the beneficiaries were all either public officers or civil servants who were now being paid tips from the Consolidated Fund (CF) for performing the very function for which they were employed. The receipt of these tips by these officers amounts to double dipping from the CF by the concerned Public Officers/Civil servants.

Since the payment of these tips were adhoc, and not based on any government wide policy or regulation, they should be disallowed and surcharged on the SCOP. Furthermore, the practice should be discontinued until there is such a government policy / regulation on the payment of tips to public officer and civil servants.

With regards to the outstanding balance of US$127,000 which management was unable to retire according to the PFM Regulations 2018, the same should be disallowed and surcharged on the SCOP who was entrusted with the funds.

Daily Subsistence Allowance Paid to Ineligible Individual

A sample of the payment vouchers were inspected in respect of overseas travelling. It was observed that DSA allowance of US$2,160 was paid to a Mr. Paul Massaquoi as part of the delegation of the Office of the First Lady during a visit to Niame, Niger to attend the 23rd Oaflad Ordinary General Assembly. We however observed that Mr Paul Massaquoi was neither a staff, nor a consultant in the Offices of the President or the First Lady. As a result, we have considered this expenditure to be ineligible.

Official’s Response

The Secretary to the President stated that ‘Mr Paul Massaquoi is offering technical advice to the Office of the First Lady
on adverse issues. He is not on the regular payroll, but it was deemed appropriate to give him financial support whilst on
government business overseas. It would have been unfair for him to use his personal money for and on behalf of government. Notwithstanding, this Office will ensure that a repeat does not occur’.

Auditor’s Comment

Management’s response is noted. Since management has confirmed that the individual concerned is neither a staff, nor a contractor, the amount of US$2,160 paid to him as DSA is ineligible and should be refunded into the CF together with the cost of his air tickets.

Cashbook not Maintained by the Office of the First Lady for 2018 & 2019

Serious internal control weaknesses were identified in the management of funds allocated to this office, mainly due to the lack of competent personnel in the finance division. For instance, they failed to maintain a cashbook and as a result, could not reconcile their transactions with their bank for the financial years 2018 and 2019, or produce a set of financial statements.

This resulted in the inability of the Office of the First Lady to manage their financial resources efficiently and effectively in accordance with with Section 13 of the PFM Act, 2016. We recommend that competent officers be recruited in the finance department and a cashbook be produced for both 2018 and 2019 financial years.

Official’s Response

The Secretary to the President stated that the documents requested have been obtained and are ready for inspection.

Auditor’s Comment

During our verification of the management’s response above, we observed that there was no evidence that cashbooks were prepared for 2018 and 2019. We therefore conclude that the current personnel in the finance department of the Office of the First Lady are not competent to manage the resources of the office efficiently and effectively.

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT – 2019

Lack of an Approved Policy on Government Contribution to Bereaved Families

▪ We observed during our audit exercise that the sum of Le 360,377,200 was paid from the Consolidated Fund by the Office of the Vice President to bereaved families of some deceased public officers for 2019. These payments were made on an ad hoc basis, as there was not an approved government policy on this matter.

▪ In some instances, there were no acknowledgements from those families.

▪ It is recommended that these payments be discontinued until there is an approved policy on this matter.

Official’s Response

The Secretary to the Vice President stated that the policy for state funeral has been drafted and submitted to the Ministry
of Finance for their input with regards the quantum of money to be given out to bereaved families.

He further state that the evidence of acknowledgement for the receipt of funds had been on files during the audit period
and are available for audit inspection and verification.

Auditor’s Comment

Management’s response is noted, however until an approved policy or applicable law is enacted to serve as a guide on this issue, it remains unresolved.

Special Imprest not Retired

For the period under review, during overseas travel, special imprest was given to the Secretary to the Vice President, to cover the incidental costs of the Vice President. A large portion of the amount provided was adequately retired in compliance with the Public Financial Management Regulations 2018.

It was however noted that the sum of US$7,500 was not retired in compliance with the above law. It is recommended that the Secretary to the Vice President should provide adequate retirements details in line with the provision of the law.

Official’s Response

The Secretary to the Vice President stated that the amount in question is not imprest but the Vice President’s travelling
DSAs and incidentals that is handled by the Hon. Vice President himself for his official trips overseas. This amount is approved by His Excellency the President.

He further stated that the Office of the Vice President had noted the audit recommendation and therefore, documents
related to how these amounts were spent are ready for audit inspection or verification.

Auditor’s Comment

We noted the management’s response, however during verification, the office failed to provide retirement details in accordance with the provisions of the law for the outstanding amount of US$7,500, therefore the matter is unresolved.

Payments for Overseas Travels not Appropriately Managed

Further review of overseas travel payment vouchers and the accompanying supporting documents
revealed:

▪ Payments for accommodation, feeding and other expenses of US$9,872 were made on behalf of some officers accompanying the Vice President, even though there was evidence that those officers were paid DSA of US$7,767.90 for the same trip; and

▪ officers accompanying the Vice President who were entitled to DSA totaling US$18,800 were only paid DSA of US$14,350 thereby resulting in an underpayment of US$4,450.

▪ We recommend that the Secretary to the Vice President in collaboration with the Senior Accountant should ensure that DSA of US$7,767.90 paid to those officers be recovered and refunded into the CF.

▪ We further recommend that the Secretary to the Vice President in collaboration with the Senior Accountant should ensure that DSA of US$4,450 owed to those officers concerned be paid to them without delay.

Official’s Response

The Secretary to the Vice President stated that the amount in question is DSA/travel allowance paid to the Vice President, which he chooses to expend as he wishes. It is not an imprest as such. For any overseas funds, a minute is raised by the Vice President to His Excellency the President for approval, the approved amount is disbursed accordingly. Therefore, if any amount is outstanding, then another minute has to be raised. We note the recommendation and shall raise another minute for consideration of the President.

Auditor’s Comment

Our conclusion is that since the DSA is a special imprest, it must be accounted for as required by the PFM Regulations 2018. We therefore restate our recommendation as the issue remains unresolved.

LOCAL COUNCILS

The annual financial statements for 22 local councils were submitted for audit before, or after the legislative deadline of 31st March, 2020. Significant matters were identified in the audit examination. These matters revealed a cash loss of Le5.28 billion relating to the following categories:

▪ Revenue arrears

▪ Non-payment of statutory obligations

▪ Unsupported payments

▪ Over expenditure of budget lines and unapproved expenditure

▪ Payment of sitting fees and other allowances to absentee councillors

The main composition and analysis of these losses are summarised below:

Sitting fees and transport allowances paid to absentee councillors or for meetings not held – Le 362,720,000.00

Ineligible expenditure – Le 298,622,333.00

Irregularities in the collection and accounting for own-source revenue – Le 258,960,000.00

Withholding taxes not overpaid to NRA – Le 944,722,451.24

Fuel not accounted for – Le 1,973,108,843.00

Payments without supporting documents – Le 874,031,772.00

Fixed Assets not accounted for – Le 75,127,500.00

Payroll irregularities – Le 466,770,590.00

Short supply of items procured – Le 30,300,000.00

Total – Le 5,284,363,489.24

The audit outcomes are expanded upon in a more detailed form in the individual council reports submitted to Parliament.
We also noted that, in spite of our recommendations in previous reports, LCs were still not in compliance with the procurement laws and regulations during 2019. Significant procurement irregularities identified relate to the following categories:

▪ Non-submission of procurement documents
▪ Procurement plans not approved by the relevant authority
▪ Procurement splitting to avoid the National Competitive Bidding method
▪ Relevant information not included in the Request for Quotations (RFQ) document
▪ Irregularities in the bidding process
▪ Contract terms not fully met
▪ Procured items not fully delivered

Additionally, we undertook a compliance audit on the Management of Safe Drinking Water in rural communities in selected districts. Despite significant progress over the years, some communities within the selected districts still lack access to safe and sustainable drinking water supply.

Our review showed the following underlying factors:
▪ Inadequate funding for the provision of safe drinking water within the selected districts
▪ Lack of logistics for water quality management
▪ No effective planning and coordination of water management activities in the selected districts
▪ Inadequate staffing in the Rural Water Sector

PUBLIC ENTERPRISES, COMMISSIONS AND DONOR FUNDED PROJECTS

Across all the Public Enterprises and Commissions, several cash irregularities were observed, giving rise to a loss of Le59.2 billion. The significant matters identified in the audit examination fall into the following areas:

▪ Unexplained expenditure
▪ Unsupported payments
▪ Statutory deductions not paid
▪ Revenue not paid in to the CF

The main composition and analysis of these losses are summarised below:

Irregularities in revenue management – Le 1,071,471,189.78
Fuel not accounted for – Le 193,786,750.00
Irregularities in assets management – Le 1,434,104,385.55
Payroll Irregularities – Le 27,572,338,101.55
Payment without supporting documents – Le 21,641,621,928.10
Withholding taxes or GST not paid over to NRA – Le 7,350,224,704.57

Total – Le 59,263,547,058.87

Payments for goods, works and services, amounting to Le7.8 billion were without adequate supporting documents. This could be attributed to management’s failure to observe the stated regulations in the utilisation of public funds.

MINISTRIES, DEPARTMENT AND AGENCIES

We estimate that there have been losses in cash and stores amounting to Le65.5 billion. As in previous years this has occurred for a number of reasons, some inter-related and overall strongly suggest that public financial management has room for improvement in all MDAs. These include:

▪ Payroll Irregularities
▪ Payment without supporting documents
▪ Unapproved Payments
▪ Imprest not Retired
▪ Unrecovered funds
▪ Irregularities in Accounting for Revenue
▪ Stores and Assets Management irregularities
▪ Fuel Not brought to Account
▪ Withholding taxes not paid over to NRA
▪ Irregularities in Procurement Activities

The main composition and analysis of these losses are summarised below:

Payroll irregularities – Le 6,066,989,608.96
Payment without supporting documents – Le 47,490,944,857.35
Imprest not retired – Le 3,939,575,735.00
Unrecovered funds – Le 271,120,451.10
Irregularities in accounting for revenue – Le 26,856,150.00
Stores and assets management irregularities – Le 3,293,799,835.00
Fuel not brought to account – Le 3,448,365,320.00
Withholding taxes not paid to NRA – Le 520,030,103.00
Irregularities in procurement activities – Le 457,459,528.00

Total – Le 65,515,141,588.41

We additionally continue to observe material breach in the procurement laws and regulations. Of grave concern is the aspect of procurement splitting. MDAs were deliberately splitting procurement activities into smaller portions, and using the Request for Quotations method instead of the National Competitive Bidding. All these were geared towards avoiding competition in the procurement process which would have given a greater value-for-money.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF REPORT

in its executive summary, the report expresses serious concerns over the government’s collections of revenue, as follows:.

Export Levy on Timber Revenue Valued in Line with Legislative Directives

The method of valuation for timber products prior to exportation was not in accordance with Section 3 of the Finance (Amended) Act of 2018. Instead of using cubic meters as required by law, 20-feet shipping containers were used as unit of measurement. Based on the ASYCUDA data from the Customs Department, a total of 2,201,024.88 cubic meters valued at US$5.5billion was exported.

Revenue of US$25.7 million was recorded in the GPFS, thereby leaving a difference of US$5.48 billion. According to the Ministry of Finance, the discrepancy is due to an error in the drafting of the Finance Act (Amended) of 2018, but the necessary correction will be done in the Finance Act of 2021.

Anomalies in the Banking of Revenue

Some airlines and their agents purported to have paid Foreign Travelling Taxes (FTT) amounting to Le3.2 billion into the Zenith Bank and Standard Chartered Bank accounts, our review found that such amounts were not reflected in the bank statements, even though receipts were issued to the taxpayers.

The Sierra Leone Maritime Administration did not provide receipt books for audit purposes, for January to June, 2019. A comparison between revenue recorded in the cashbook which amounted to Le61.29 billion and revenue as per bank statement which amounted to Le41.5 billion, resulted in a difference of Le19.79 billion not banked.

Anomalies with the Payment of Tax Liability

We noted from our sampling that majority of taxpayers were State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) with tax liabilities totalling Le34.22 billion. These SOEs failed to make payments in 2019. In addition, some taxpayers did not make complete payments of their GST liabilities, resulting in a net variance of Le9.82 billion as underpayment in the Valued-Added Tax Information Processing System (VIPs).

Management of the NRA has written to these taxpayers with regard to their outstanding tax liabilities. Some of these SOEs are in the process of having a debt swap agreement. Recalculation of corporation tax liability revealed a variance of Le3.13 billion between taxes paid and taxes calculated. This was done on the chargeable income reported in the financial statements without evidence of additional taxes (5th instalments) paid by taxpayers.

There are still outstanding debts of Le5.7 billion that have been long overdue for payment for 2011 to 2018. Of this amount, the custom team was unable to identify debtors who had debts amounting to Le351.7 million. The NRA had disclosed several of these debtors in publications of newspapers.

Import GST Wrongly Claimed by Taxpayers

An assessment between the ASYCUDA World and the VIPS in respect of import GST, showed that import GST (VAT 2) transactions totalling Le400.37 million (as reported in the VIPS) were not traced to the ASYCUDA World. In addition, variances totalling Le21.8 billion were identified between the records posted in the ASYCUDA World and the VIPS in respect of import GST. Letters were sent by the management of the NRA, notifying taxpayers about tax liabilities and information relating to import GST.

Revenue not Supported by Documentation

During 2019, revenue which totalled Le30.7 billion (Le 1.7 billion, Le13.8 billion and Le15.2 billion) was deposited into the Standard Bureau, Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority and General Revenue accounts respectively at the Bank of Sierra Leone.

There was no evidence to determine the accuracy and completeness of these amounts in the accounts. In addition, 21 operators with outstanding balances in the debtor’s register totalling Le88.17 billion were purported by NATCOM to be on a payment plan, which is in contravention of Section 12(e) of the Finance Act of 2019. The approved payment plan was also not submitted.

Lack of Evidence and Understatement of Revenue Arrears

Our audit procedure to ascertain the existence and accuracy of revenue arrears (relating to Domestic Tax Department and Customs of approximately Le286.34 billion) disclosed in the GPFS was restricted to creditor confirmation because of insufficient information presented for audit scrutiny.

We did not receive confirmation for arrears which amounted to Le278 billion (97.4% of total arrears) from taxpayers. We also noted that arrears totalling Le169.95 billion and US$2.24 million for the National Telecommunications Commission and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration respectively were not included in the arrear figures in the GPFS.

Expenditure

Expenditure without Regulation/Policy

Funds totalling Le1.6 billion were withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund account at the Bank of Sierra Leone to defray the cost of funeral expenses of some senior government officers who had passed away. These funds were without any regulation, policy or other legal instruments to justify the stated disbursements.

Apart from the fact that no legal instrument existed for the disbursement of such funds, there was also no evidence to indicate how the stated amounts were expended on the funerals of the deceased. In addition, top-up allowances totalling Le3.1 billion were paid to staff in grades 2 to 7 in the Ministry of Finance without regulation or authorisation.

In the absence of a legal instrument, such disbursements are considered ineligible.

Expenditure not Supported by Relevant Documentary Evidence

Transactions totalling Le2.26 billion were not supported by the relevant documentary evidence such as payment vouchers, contracts, receipts, and delivery notes. In addition, allowances amounting to Le3.77 billion were paid to employees without adequate supporting documents such as arrear processing forms, approved salary amendment letters, request letters, and recalculation sheets.

In the absence of the records and documentation, the purpose for which the expenditure was incurred could not be ascertained and it is possible that these payments may have been misclassified in the GPFS.

Taxes on Rent Allowances not Paid into the Consolidated Fund

We observed that 10% withholding tax was deducted instead of applying the correct PAYE tax deduction percentage (30%) from rent allowances paid to employees and consultants resulting in an under deduction of Le1.08 billion. This may have led to the loss of much needed government funds.

Public Debt

Misstatement of External Debt Information in the General-Purpose Financial Statement External confirmation in respect of public debts were received for Le13.86 trillion (94.76%) out of Le14.33 trillion reported in the GPFS, leaving a balance of Le765.79 billion (5.24%) unconfirmed.

We noted from confirmation letters sent by external creditors, that debts totalling Le13.05 billion were not seen in the revised Disbursed Outstanding Debts (DOD). In addition, a net variance totalling Le149.88 billion was noted between the DOD disclosed in the GPFS and confirmation letters received from external creditors.

Cash and Bank

Cancellation of Obsolete Cheques

We reviewed a minute paper dated 16th June, 2020 written by the Principal Deputy Financial Secretary to the Financial Secretary, requesting for the Minister’s approval for the cancellation of obsolete cheques amounting to Le207 billion. We noted that the necessary adjustments have been made on the GPFS.

We did not receive for verification, the revised arrears clearance strategy, letter of cancellation of all contracts and responses to the letter of cancellation of contracts from the contractors and suppliers.

Procurement of Goods and Services

Irregularities with the Procurement of Goods and Services

We observed that procurement activities totalling Le21 billion were not captured in the procurement plans of both the Ministry of Transport and Aviation and the Ministry of Water Resources. In addition, contracts were not advertised and letters of regret were not sent to unsuccessful bidders for procurement activities undertaken by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, using an open competitive bidding method for the period under review.

We also observed that conditions/clauses in the contracts between the Ministry of Energy and EMCO Construction and Logistics were not followed for the supply of electricity in Bo and Kenema cities.

In my opinion, the accompanying financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Government of Sierra Leone as at 31st December 2019, its financial performance and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with Cash Basis IPSAS.

Emphasis of Matters

Export Levy on Timber Revenue Valued in Line with Legislative Directives The method of valuation for timber products prior to exportation was not in accordance with Section 3 of the Finance (Amended) Act of 2018. Instead of using cubic meters as required by law, 20-feet shipping containers were used as unit of measurement. Based on the ASYCUDA data from the Customs Department, a total of 2,201,024.88 cubic meters valued at US$5.5billion was exported.

Revenue of US$25.7 million was recorded in the GPFS, thereby leaving a difference of US$5.48 billion. According to the Ministry of Finance, the discrepancy is due to an error in the drafting of the Finance Act (Amended) of 2018, but the necessary correction will be done in the Finance Act of 2021.

Significant Internal Control Deficiency – Lack of Reconciliation of Revenue Cashbooks with Revenue Transit Accounts
Reconciliations were not carried out between the cashbooks maintained by finance officers of the NRA in respect of the various revenue departments and the transit banks.

In 2019, some airlines and their agents purported to have paid FTT to the tune of Le 3.2 billion into the Zenith Bank and Standard Chartered Bank accounts, but these amounts were not reflected in the bank statement, even though receipts were issued to the taxpayers. This matter is currently being investigated as a possible fraud.

Prior Year Adjustments

I draw attention to Note 33 of the GPFS which describes the prior year adjustments made to closing bank balances for the year ended 2018 due to cancellation of unpaid cheques printed in prior years such as grants to institutions and advance payment for goods and services that were yet to be delivered.

Lack of Evidence and Understatement of Revenue Arrears

I draw your attention to Note 6 and Appendix 2 in the financial statements, which describe Domestic Arrears. Our audit procedure to ascertain the existence and accuracy of revenue arrears (relating to Domestic Tax and Customs Departments of approximately Le286.34 billion) disclosed in Note 6 and Appendix 2 of the GPFS was restricted to creditor confirmation because of insufficient information presented for audit scrutiny.

We did not receive confirmation for arrears which amounted to Le278 billion (97.4% of total arrears) from taxpayers. We also noted that arrears totalling Le169.95 billion and US$2.24 million for the National Telecommunications Commission and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration respectively were not included in the arrear figures in the GPFS. I am therefore unable to ascertain whether it is free from material misstatement. My opinion is not modified in respect of this matter.

Other Matters

Expenditure without Any Regulation/Policy

Funds totalling Le1.6 billion were withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund account at the Bank of Sierra Leone to defray the cost of funeral expenses of some senior government officers who had passed away. These funds were without any regulation, policy or other legal instruments to justify the stated disbursements. In addition, top-up allowances totalling Le3.1 billion were paid to staff in grades 2 to 7 in the Ministry of Finance without regulation or authorisation.

Taxes on Rent Allowances not Paid into the Consolidated Fund

We observed that 10% withholding tax was deducted instead of applying the correct PAYE tax deduction percentage (30%) from rent allowances paid to employees and consultants of MDAs resulting in an excess deduction of Le1.08 billion.

PERFORMANCE AUDIT

The performance audit carried out by Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) is an independent, objective and reliable examination of whether government undertakings, programmes, systems and activities are performed in accordance with the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

These audits are categorised as ‘special reports’ under Section 66(4) of the Government Budgeting and Accountability Act of 2005. Section 11 (2c) of the Audit Service Act of 2014 mandates the Auditor General to carry out value-for-money and other audits to ensure that efficiency and effectiveness are achieved in the use of public funds.

Two performance audit reports issued to Parliament by the ASSL this year (2020) are: Rehabilitation and Closure of Mines by the National Minerals Agency and Environmental Protection Agency and Follow-up on Anti-Malaria Interventions by the National Malaria Control Programme.  The main observations follow under each activity examined.

Rehabilitation and Closure of Mines

The following were observed:

Environmental Management Planning

▪ A total of 46 large and small-scale mining licence holders were reviewed. Of that total (46), 10 were issued with EIA licences before acquiring mining licences. Twenty (20) were however granted mining licences before acquiring EIA licences and 16 never acquired EIA licences in contravention of Sections 108 (a) and 98 (a) of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009. This was as a result of lack of collaboration and coordination between the NMA and the EPA.

▪ The NMA did not ensure exploration licence holders acquired EIA licences.

▪ The EPA did not have any role in the monitoring of artisanal miners because the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009 is silent on the EPA’s role regarding artisanal miners.

▪ Examination of 25 EIA licences revealed that only seven submitted closure plans to the EPA. The remaining 18 EIA licences were not supported by closure plans.

▪ Several closure plans included the projected costs for their mine closure activities. The actual funds were not set aside for the implementation of those closure plans.

Implementation of Mines Rehabilitation and Closure Plans

▪ The EPA and the NMA were not ensuring that mining companies adhere to their closure plans as there were still areas left un-rehabilitated by these companies.

▪ The monitoring reports on the activities of mining companies disclosed that the EPA was not enforcing the requirement of the regulation as there was no evidence to show that fines were levied on mineral right holders who were not implementing their closure plans.

▪ From the seven mining companies that submitted closure plans, only two had submitted updated closure plans for the period under review. The plans did not include any update on financial assurance as prescribed by law.

▪ A review of the monitoring plans and reports submitted by the EPA revealed that the environmental activities of mining licence holders (i.e. large-scale, small-scale and exploration companies) were not monitored according to their plans.

▪ In 2014, 34 monitoring reports did not cover the monitoring of mine rehabilitation and closure activities. According to personnel of the NMA, most of the plans were not achieved due to lack of funds.

▪ A review of the monitoring fee cashbook revealed that those fees were utilised for purposes other than monitoring.

▪ During the audit, no environmental management report had been submitted to the NMA. Personnel of mining companies mentioned that they were not aware that they should be submitting reports to the NMA on an annual basis.

Rehabilitation of Abandoned Mining Sites

▪ There was no national strategy for the rehabilitation of mined-out areas at the time of the audit.

▪ An amount of Le788,850,000 was collected in all the regions by the NMA for the rehabilitation of mined-out areas of artisanal miners between January 2014 and December 2018. Evidence to indicate that these fees were used by the NMA to rehabilitate artisanal mined-out areas was not made available for inspection.

Anti-Malaria Interventions by the National Malaria Control Programme

The following were observed:

▪ Monitoring and follow-up on malaria patients was not effective due to inadequate staffing within the health centres and the wide span of the population catchments. They mostly relied on the community health workers and volunteers to monitor and follow-up on their patients. As such, the completion and effectiveness of treatment could not be confirmed.

▪ Arthemeter + Lumefantrine is administered to patients whether the Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) of malaria is positive or negative, and is administered based on the signs and symptoms of a patient, since the RDT cannot show below 300 malaria parasites.

▪ We noted that there were shortages of RDTs in health care facilities due to the high influx of
patients with fever suspected to be malaria.

YOU CAN READ THE FULL REPORT HERE:

Annual-Report-on-the-Account-of-Sierra-Leone-2019

 

15 Comments

  1. This, to me, is a move from the frying pan into the fire. The result of change – apparently this report does not speak well of the change Sierra Leoneans made in 2018. I hope we all learn from it.

  2. This report highlights the importance of having an educate population. Without education none of us will truly know what Bio and his corrupt ministers are up to. Unfortunately, majority of our country men, and women fell into that category. The illiteracy rate in Sierra Leone is too high, that’s why they get away with their corrupt ways. Education, Education Education. I wonder how much of this Auditor General report will be read and commented on by the diehard illiterate supporters of Bio, and his ilk. Or at best ask for explanation from Bio, who is throwing up accusations against his predecessors of being corrupt. The degree of hypocrisy by Bio and his government Ministers is mind boggling. Now we know they are not only enablers of corruption on an industrial scale, but active and proud promoters of corruption. And the loser as always, is you guess it “MAMA SIERRA LEONE”.

    I think this report should be written in Krio, and make the contents available for free to everyone. So people can see, what this corrupt bunch is up to. Because as regards to the party faithful that like to put their lives on the line for Bio and anyone else that speaks and looks like them, in return for a white T-shirt, emboldened with Bio’ face, they deserve to be told the truth, never mind the rest of us. Now we know the price of such T-shirt in Bio’s bubble is just the loose change. The word Accountability has acquired new meaning under Bio. In the absence of being kept in the dark by virtue of lacking any education, his party faithful have not only been denied the information they need to make an informed judgement about the corrupt politicians that they protect and sometimes kill for, cementing their unyielding support for their grand wizard in the form of Bio, the same corrupt politicians they support are denying them the funds needed to make a meaningful change in their wretched lives.

    They should be made aware this stolen funds was meant to educate them, create job opportunities for them or use this stolen funds to invest in their local communities that will make a difference in their lives. How much more can our country go on merry go round of unchecked corruption? In the process as this report highlights, unearthing stolen public money that reads like telephone numbers?

  3. As one digs further into this 2019 audit, the more you come to terms with how egregious this report is, especially, the wickedness and selfish schemes machination by the criminal cabals that calls themselves politicians, clandestinely devouring any prospect of our nation’s development, solely for their own personal gains. Let us look at what the report says in the area of timber exporting; which according to news, the president and his henchmen have given a monopoly on all timber exports to Leadway Trading, operated by CEO Babadi Kamara, with reports of the president having a huge ownership in the said company.

    “Based on the ASYCUDA data from the Customs Department, a total of 2,201,024.88 cubic meters valued at US$5.5billion was exported. Revenue of US$25.7 million was recorded in the GPFS, thereby leaving a difference of US$5.48 billion.” Let us put this into perspective, analysing what $5.5 billion could have transformed our nation into. The Mamamah airport dubbed as too expensive by the Bio regime and cancelled was priced at 400 million dollars; that means we could have built 10 airports with the 5.5billion dollars these crooks have stolen from our nation. Even the Lungi bridge which was price tagged at $2.5billion could have been built with another $3billion remaining to build 5 more Mamamah airport equivalence or construct miles of railway technology to improve the lives of the suffering citizens.

    Now, listen to this, during one of my numerous trips to the provinces while I was in the country last month, on my way returning late to Freetown, just after pass midnight, I was surprised to encountered a convoy of timber trailer lorries counting over 20 obstructing traffic just when you approach the Masiaka toll gate, the first toll gate you meet coming from the provinces. Upon further enquiries, I was made to understand that, those timber lorries belong to government officials, so they travel late midnight to avoid paying the 185,000 Leones toll fees per gate. As rightly informed, before we know it, the lorries began to move, so I followed along. Surprisingly, one of the lanes was open for all the timber lorries to go through, with the illuminating writing V.I.P on that particular lane. So we all tagged along, not paying a single penny. That is our current Salone folks.

  4. Since 2015 these guys (Bio, Kelfala et al) under the guise of human rights organisations start to plant the idea that the Koroma led Govt are a bunch of thieves without any fact-checking, and journalists bought into it. To the point that even when it was revealed that the then president courageously grandstanding against the world bank just so the people of “Salone” can afford to buy fuel and rice.

    Instead these guys asked for school children to demonstrate, but you journalists didn’t call them out. However, now that they are in power you want to call them out. Too late. I will always hold journalists as partly responsible for this sorry excuse of a government and their first lady.

  5. Since day one when I started responding to articles of this newspaper, I had always been consistent with my view that “MAADA BIO IS NOT A LEADER” I have stood for it and I will stick by it until I am proven wrong or otherwise. (But it seems like I will never be proven wrong or otherwise). The very first time I happened to make my conclusions of his(Maada)lack of knowledge especially that of governance, was when I listened to his interview on BBC, where he purported that, the Sierra Leone government is too corrupt and full of leakages and that, he is running for president. If successful, will put an end to corruption and have all leakages blocked. I remember when the interviewer asked him, how he will go about blocking the leakages?

    To my utter shock, Maada Bio struggled in his pathetic use of English words to construct even viable sentences to a make a clear point-of how he will close leakages. A man they say has a doctorate degree, has to count his words to make an accurate sentence, and to figure out how to make a sober minded response. listening to that interview on that day, I said to myself,” MAADA NOR TO LIDA. IF EM RULE SALONE E GO RUIN DI KONTRI” (Maada is not a leader and if he rules the country he will ruin it). I thought I would be proven wrong when he first started implementing serious regulations of staff punctuality and tardiness to workplace in his first hundred days of office. All came crashing when the president finally got to see what he had never seen before in his whole life time since the day he turned 18yrs to the day he was sworn in as a president. which is MONEY..

    The sooner he finally realised that he has really become the custodian of all riches in the country, the guy back pedalled. Why didn’t the constitution put in stringent regulations for those vying for the highest office of the land? Why do we really have to choose such a leader with low level of governance know-how? Why are Sierra Leoneans still putting personality before country? Why can’t we copy the good things that westerners are doing? Why can’t Sierra Leoneans enjoy their country’s labour? Reading this report is really a heart-breaking for me. I will say the previous administration was at least little bit better than what we are currently experiencing now. This report serves as a clear testament to lack of empathy for the people of Sierra Leone by this MAADA BIO administration…

  6. Ben Kelfala what can you say or do, this time around? This is “report beat report” Mr. Kelfala. What is going on? In 2018 audit report published on the 19th December 2019, over 140 billion Leones was found missing. But the administration was quick, to deny responsibility and blamed it on the previous government. In 2019 report the Auditor-General now says over 178 billion Leones was missing, a difference of 38 billion more from 2018. It seems like perfect incremental steps. Ben, my question to you is, are you going to bend or mend?

  7. This national audit report is breath-taking. After reading this report, I was left speechless and gasping for breath. Ii is now over to the so-called independent ACC, led by Ben Khalifa, to look into this matter. Your work is cut out for you. No excuses for not going after these criminals that are dragging our country to the bottomless pit of abject poverty through their selfish actions. They should pursue this investigation with vigour and speed against all the named individuals in this Bio dictatorship. After all, not long ago on this platform one of the apologists of this criminal cabal run by Bio, and his henchmen, asked me to provide evidence of corruption within his government and present it to the ACC.

    Well my fellow countryman, in the nutshell, there you have it, printed in Black and white in plain English. Now you can read it for yourself. This is what I have believed all along. That despite what Bio said in his recent interview with the AL-Jazeera News network, that corruption has been going on in our country for long time, that he was elected to put a stop to his words are not worth the paper they are written on. What a load of horses sxxt. Now we know he and his government are as corrupt as any other before him. I think our international financial partners, like the IMF, world Bank, ADB Bank, the European union, if they really have the interest of Sierra Leone, in pushing for national development, should stop dishing out money to this mafia style government led by Bio and his accomplices. Otherwise we the general public will start to see your assistant as nothing sort of encouraging corruption in Sierra Leone, rather helping us to hold this corrupt government to account. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  8. Once a thief, always a thief and that’s an irrefutable fact, there’s no two ways about it. These shady individuals now holding on to power were once derelicts in the U.K and the United States who could fit all the belongings in a duffle bag. Doctorate degree holders living from pay to pay check, struggling to make ends meet in the freezing Winter cold have now hit the jackpot having easy access to the governments financial coffers. They have been busy milking the system totally dry and growing huge potbellies from shamelessly overfeeding themselves, strangely, always remembering also to measure the sizes of their elastic tummies – our morbidly obese President Maada won that “Tummy Contest” hands down.(lol)

    The SLPP is corrupt because their leader is corrupt, it didn’t happen by accident – a baby turtle will always crawl and follow in the crooked footsteps of her aging mother, such is the reality we have to deal with today in Sierra Leone, the only place I am proud to call my home.

  9. Wow, wow, wow!! Speechless!! Hey delusional POAPA kleptomaniac supporters; is this the handy work of APC operatives again as you have always been barking? Foresight folks like myself in this glorious intellectual platform have figured out long since, and have been ringing the alarm bell, calling out the current crop of POAPA leaders who are nothing but a criminal cabal with a mission to get rich quick off the back of our ailing nation.

    How many times have we pointed out that the so called fight against corruptions was nothing but a HOAX? Our nation is indeed in deep sh*t. To be continue!!

  10. I don’t think it is important to dig into the financial expenses of the head of state, what is important; he respected our constitution and our democracy. No one is perfect; no man is an island.

    • So why is former president EBK being hounded now for corruption Ibrahim bah. Was he not a president? Are you really thinking with your head?

    • And you Sir, truly believe what you just said makes sense huh? Perhaps you should show some diligence, and look up the word ACCOUNTABILITY and familiarize yourself with its intrinsic meaning and all that it entails.(lol)

    • Am I hearing a silly and sarcastic stuff? What do mean by “I don’t think it is important to dig into the financial expenses of the head of state” Mr Ibrahim Bah? Are you here to tell me and the more than twenty-six thousand daily visitors, that you don’t have a clue about what is happening in Sierra Leone or talking for talk sake? Even my friend Mr Ibrahima Duldeh Bah from “Fouta Jallon” knows how corrupt the Bio SLPP kakistocracy has become. Do you know how our constitution has been Bastardised since the Bio SLPP kakistocracy took power? Please answer to my question as quickly as you possibly can, right here and right now. God bless the former Commander in Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces. Yeah.

    • Sorry, Mr Bah the constitution states you can not steal from the state. And that is the first rule Bio and his ministers broke. If you read the report as it was published, the author of the report kept referring to some aspects of the constitution that bars public officials from stealing from the state, and that in effect the laws of the land has been broken. So in your commentary that we should leave Bio alone as long as he respect the constitution, doesn’t chime well with what the auditor General highlights.

      Maybe you read a different report. So I advise you my brother to go back and look at it again. Lets stop lying to ourselves, Bio and his ministers and his hangers-on, have failed the competency test. Our country is economically broke. Our roads, I don’t know about you, in my neck of the woods are not worth talking about. Our health system is broken, nothing seems to work under Bio, unless of course corruption.

      Bio has divided the country on tribal and regional lines. His public statements are adding fuel to the fire of division in our country. His record on Free press is out of sync with his pronouncements. His human rights record is not something to be proud of. And all this is written in our constitution. As a citizen you are guaranteed those rights. But Bio has taken them away from you. So the idea that Bio is respectful of our constitution is a mug’s game. He doesn’t even pretend to be trying to work in the interest of our country. If you want to judge him on that he will run away with the 2020 award for the worst leader Sierra Leone has ever elected as President. Lonta!

    • Mr. Bah,
      I beg to differ. I think our institutions have every right to look into the financial expenses of our head of state and call him out if there are any improprieties on his part. We are a democracy and not a banana republic where the head of state can do whatever he wants with the country’s treasury. However, it is disgusting and nauseating to notice the level of hyper partisanship in our country. We have entered a dangerous era where while the opposition cannot see anything good about the present administration, the supporters of the government cannot see anything bad about our government. So, while supporters of the government are celebrating the government’s success in being considered for the US MCC compact, the opposition, ever searching for bad news is celebrating the audit report without even giving parliament and the anti-corruption commission time to act. This is disgraceful and only shows the extent that folks could want to go in their bid to capture state power. Do missing funds necessarily translate into stolen funds?

      I hope the two extremes can give those of us in the middle a chance to be constructive in our evaluation of the present dispensation. For all I know, SLPP alleged theft does not vindicate APC plunder. Do ya unu gee we chance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.