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

 

11 Comments

  1. Auditor General Report is nothing new in Sierra Leone, but since the release of the GTT report and the just concluded COI which justifiably and officially named the destructive past destructive APC government as THIEVES during their 11 years misrule, now they are trying to use this first Audit Report which is still waiting to undergo the process and procedures of parliament and the ACC to vindicate themselves from paying back our stolen monies by the deadline which is this month. The lifetime chairman of the destructive APC party was labelled a THIEF because of money laundering, selling of the shares of our citizens of Sierra Rutile for his own personal benefit and because of his unexplained wealth.

    The 1991 constitution which was drafted under the one party dictatorship of the destructive APC party gave the president enormous power (that was the reason why former President Koroma rejected the constitutional review by late Justice Cowan), so questioning the president for his policies of first rebranding Sierra Leone and traveling around the world to establish political and economic relationships with different government is unfounded, because it is his constitutional duty. His trips which are now paying dividends due to the current developments can be best described by his opponents as unnecessary or wasteful spending but not corruption based on the fact that not only the constitution, but the current parliament recently voted to give the president, vice president and speaker of the house blank checks for Imprest, which out of humility the president refused to sign into law.

    Questioning President Bio for his policies and two vacation trips in 2 years is like questioning President Trump for most of his policy changes that he constitutionally implemented during his first 100 days in office and most of the 52 international trips to 58 countries made by President Obama paid by the taxpayers. Sierra Leone’s GDP for 2018 was $4.8 billion and is projected to fall due to the pandemic so the destructive APC party propagandists are now capitalizing on the mistakes of the timber exports unit pricing system that the Ministry of Finance is now rectifying through parliament. My only advice for the delusional and destructive APC supporters is to continue enjoying the free ride of the free quality education and all the positive development programs, and try to engage in the planning of the $400 million MCC win due to hard work and credibility of the new direction government, which will develop the Water and Electricity sectors for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.

  2. Thanks my brother, the ‘awesome’ STARGAZER. I must say you have been very active lately. Keep the good work going, that is the way to do it.

  3. Sad, very sad. Quoting Ayi Kwei Armah.”The Beautiful Ones Are not Yet Born”. For a Government that campaigned on the promise of “War Against Corruption”, this is scandalous to say the list.

  4. This report is an interesting read. Audit reports however, are not investigation reports. It highlights areas that should be investigated and there are many in this report. For example the principal issue of $5.5 billon is something that should be investigated and made clear. From the assertion of the Auditor General above, the government did not follow the stipulated measurements for export of timber but rather resorted to use the container system. The AG therefore calculated the number of containers base on the stipulated measurements and according concluded that the government should have accrued $ 5.5 billon. But does Sierra Leone have the forest to export timber worth $5.5 billon?

    If we do, there will be no tree left in Sierra Leone. Gabon and the DRC that have more forest in Africa cannot export timber worth $100 Millon. So president Bio and his accountants have to systematically explain to Sierra Leoneans why they bypassed the stipulated measurements for the container system which has led to this confusion. Diamond has never given us a billion in a year. Timber cannot give us that. You don’t have to be a supporter or opposition to know this fact.

    I thought that 20% of our DSA is for petty expenses. Why would the president and his wife dip into the consolidated funds to give a tip? This is money that they should refund. Also, when did Sierra Leone government start paying for funerals of dead people? This needs investigation and such monies should be refunded.

  5. The more I dig into the Auditor General’s 2019 audit report, the more I believe that the only thing that will work in our corruption fight is to punish corruption as a capital crime. The time has come for the old wisdom of “set a thief to catch a thief” to undergo a proof test. No drum beats of “talk and do” slogans will do it, unless and until the laws in the books are a little meaner, otherwise, people will not be afraid to snatch the money in billions because, they know it is catch, pay and release. It has been my long held suspicion that the current members of this administration are less afraid to steal in grand style, why? Despite the heckling of the opposition APC for being corrupt, the policy statement by President Bio, made in Bo town visit, promising not to lock up anyone accused of corruption but, only that, he will ask people to pay back the money, was the direction of the ACC.

    When you observe the pattern of draining the CF, the use of certain known and unknown leakage routes to steal government money, all remained the same with the accused APC as far as the Auditor General’s 2018; 2019 reports shows. Corruption has gone no where a bit, with President Bio’s threats, instead, it has risen to higher heights under his watch. Sometimes, I ask myself, what sort of country is ours, or what party loyalty is it that, prevents people, assuming they are sane, from seeing the factual evidence of corruption and abuse of office by their own party in governance, laid bare before them by the Auditor General’s report, simply because of some crude notions of party interest? It is time to revisit our definition of capital offenses in the books, to cover this level of grand scale looting of state coffers, as evidenced in the report and treat culprits commensurate to the hardship and misery they put the people through.

    The 2019 score card is instructive. We should no longer ask again for answers to certain questions? Why workers’ salaries have remained so low? Why the chronic hardship in the country? The Auditor General Report of 2019 – How can any increment of workers’ salaries be made possible and any meaningful service delivery be made to the public, when privileged ministers and top level administrative officials including the president, are siphoning and sharing billions of money from the CF and hiding it. Do you then wonder why public works are neglected? Why the problems of teachers and health workers going for months with no pay? Why schools are underperforming and students are hungry? Why people are beggars and sick? Why roads are bad, bridges are unsafe, hospitals lack equipment and amenities? Trust me, the reasons are no longer shifty, read the 2019 report.

  6. Well, it is like a thieving spree; one can only visualize this level of plunder and embezzlement as if it were taking place in a western movie. “Rule of the Gun” to be precise – starring John Russell (aka Maad Bio) and his gang of cowboys invading a sleepy town called Salone, and harvesting all its wealth and resources. The flag of the green bandwagon displayed the caption the ‘new direction’. Maada Bio was sitting at the helm with his First Lady (aka Lucinda) beside him. He whacked the horses and shouted, “Yippee!” The rest of the cowboys, intoxicated with palm juice, responded, “Destination Salone!”

    The timing of the Auditor General Report was well coordinated to fall after the election re-run at constituency 110, and the Millennium Corporation Compact (MCC) eligibility. The SLPP thought they had a chance to win the constituency and they were also crossing their fingers for the manipulated MCC award. It could have been the greatest travesty by the so-called development partners to learn about the magnitude of corruption of the ‘new direction’ government and yet proclaim their qualification for an MCC award. The sequence of events amid the audacious display of barbarism, human rights abuses and brazen corruption, makes one to believe that there is an international connection – it is highly likely that Maada Bio is not acting on his own. The question is, who are his international accomplices?

    Little Sierra Leone with all her mineral wealth, is entangled in a tantalising episode, and today she is classified as one of the poorest countries in the world. Everyday, millions of dollars are being siphoned from the country, eventually leaving her barren and unproductive, by the very people who are supposed to be her caretakers. Who is going to rescue her? The populace with the muzzle of a gun pointing at them? What about the Legislature or the Judiciary? Her people are suffering; can anyone help? What a SAD story.

    • Absolutely well written…Thoughtful, enjoyable and entertaining my big brother from another mother, “The Illustrious” Alimamy Turay. And remember what i once said bro; whenever the legendary Rising Sun rises and shines again, be rest assured we will all shine together. Word is bond!

  7. Once a thief is always a thief indeed. Many thanks to all Forumites on this glorious platform who came out honestly to condemn the gross misappropriation of our country’s finances by both the unscrupulous Bio SLPP kakistocracy den and some shameless members of the SLPP party. I do not have much to say because, cool minded Forumites like Young4na, Stargerzer, Mr Abraham Amadu Jalloh and others, have nailed with precision into the nucleus of this gross thieving of the country’s finances by individuals connected with both the First Lady Mrs Fatima Bio, President Bio and members of the Bio SLPP kakistocracy crooked den. “Nor forget for pay weyone share na we account. You yeri?”, the first man and woman of the land of the “gron dry” whispered. Can you imagine?

    What I want the world to hear is this. “People of the world and our development partners and believers in democracy. The opposition APC party and it’s members are being harassed and incarcerated for corruption alleged by President Bio and his surrogates as we speak, whilst the mother of all corruption is taking place under the watch of President Bio, the First Lady Mrs Fatima Bio and others unabated. Is it fair? Interestingly, the ACC can’t do anything. This tells you why you should not trust the Freetown group of Bio SLPP kakistocracy bunch of blokes.” Anyway, the COI report, the White Paper and every land grabbed from Sierra Leoneans will be reviewed as soon as the Bio SLPP kakistocracy have their butts kicked out of power. That is a pledge I will guarantee everyone. God bless Sierra Leone.

  8. We have a way out of this cycle of mess: Dump the two partners (APC and SLPP) in crime. These two parties continuously visit hell on us and we still go out to dance and vote for them. As the saying goes we typically behave like people in hell fire who are in such severe constant punishment that they do not know which moment is more severe – today or yesterday. The saddest and baffling thing is that unlike the punishment in the hereafter, we have a chance of getting out of the hell SLPP and APC have cast us into for sixty years. We should simply vote them out. But either because of illiteracy, sentiments, emotions or ignorance or a combination of all of them we keep either of them in office.

    Billions of Leones went missing under Ernest, including “kasankay “ (Ebola and mudslide) funds. Seemingly billions of Leones are going missing under Bio every other day. For heaven’s sake what is the difference between SLPP and APC? Why don’t we as a people come to our senses that these two parties are a curse – no less? Some people, including the so-called educated, are out in full force minimising the theft and corruption which occurred under Earnest, which is a naked display of lack of integrity and sincerity ,conveyed by intense absence of patriotism and nationalism. But theft is theft, and in this context millions of people suffer.

    Bio sees people around him all the time who are the opposite to him; their body mass is way below normal his,because of lack of proper nourishment. But nothing in him (Bio) fires his conscience for him to block the constant disappearance of billions which can then be used to boost agriculture as well as subsidise basic food items, until the agriculture sector makes it unnecessary. SLPP and APC lack human feelings. We have to prove the the colour of blood which flows through their veins.

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