Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara (JFK): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 March 2021:
Discourse and controversy surrounding the functions and independence of the Office of the Auditor-General of Sierra Leone are not new. (Photo above: Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, former Attorney General of Sierra Leone).
As Attorney-General in 2016, our offices issued a Legal Opinion on the subject matter: that the Auditor-General’s Office is a creature of the Constitution, and any other law inconsistent with that mandate under the Constitution is ultra vires.
The Fiscal Management Control Act (“FMCA”) was drafted and prepared during my tenure, and it did not amend nor intended to affect the provisions relative to the Audit Service. (Photo: Auditor-General – Lara Taylor Pearce).
Therefore, the Constitution remains the primary and supreme law, as compared to any subsidiary legislation including but not limited to the FMCA.
The current threats and arm-twisting politics, surrounding the role and functions of the Audit Service, are unwelcome and worrisome. Let us build institutions and not undermine them.
This is what another high-profile commentator had to say yesterday on this subject:
“I did a complete write up on this issue highlighting the process for appointing and relieving the Auditor General of his/her position, the independence of the office and its relationship with Parliament. It received over 6,000 viewers on social media in 48 hours.
“This issue of paying all moneys collected by MDAs into the Consolidated Revenue Fund does not take into account other existing laws including provisions in the Constitution. A typical example is the fund for Road Maintenance as prescribed in the Road Maintenance Fund Administration Act 2010.
“The fund was created to safeguard and maintain our deteriorating road infrastructure. It consists of fuel levy; vehicle/driver licensing fee and other regulatory fees collected by the SLRSA and road tolls when they are applied on certain sections of the road network.
“Now that these funds are directly controlled by the Ministry of Finance there is delay in allocating funds for the core network and rural roads.
“The Ministry of Finance now allocates funds for these activities leaving the RMFA defunct. That is why we had to pay the Chinese a whooping sum of $1 million for repairing of the 11 metres Savage Street Bridge……a new trajectory!”