President Bio’s fiscal irregularities: The devil is in the Auditor General’s 2022 Report

Dr Doma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 January 2023:

In a clear revelation, the Auditor General’s report for the financial year ended 2022 sheds light on concerning financial practices within various government ministries and departments.

The report, while highlighting instances of irregularities, prompts a closer examination of the transparency and governance structures in place.

A notable concern raised in the report revolves around the review of withdrawals from imprest accounts, intended to assess adherence to the Public Financial Management Act of 2016.

Shockingly, transactions totalling SLE33,004,730.76 (over Thirty-three Billion in Old Leone), lacked crucial documentary evidence, such as payment vouchers, receipts, delivery notes, and expenditure returns.

This absence of supporting documents raises serious questions about the transparency and accountability of financial transactions.

The report identifies several Ministries and Departments that withdrew funds without proper documentation. For instance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Defence, and others exhibited a worrisome trend of bank withdrawals without the necessary supporting documents.

These irregularities, amounting to SLE29,308,761.50 (over Twenty-nine Billion in Old Leone), not only indicate potential misclassification in the General Purpose Financial Statements (GPFSs) but also cast a shadow on the integrity of financial management practices.

Of particular concern is the significant sum of SLE22,570,463.00 (over Twenty-two Billion in Old Leone), withdrawn without supporting documents by the Office of The President.

This raises eyebrows as it questions the very foundation of financial accountability at the highest level of government.

The absence of original records and documentation, as highlighted in the report, not only obscures the purpose for which expenditures were incurred but also leaves room for potential misuse of public funds.

The implications of these irregularities extend beyond mere administrative lapses; they strike at the core of public trust in the government’s ability to manage finances responsibly.

As citizens, it is crucial to demand a thorough investigation into these findings, ensuring that those entrusted with public resources are held accountable.

Transparency and accountability are the cornerstone of a healthy governance structure, and any deviation from these principles threatens the welfare of the nation.

The Auditor General’s report acts as a call to action for citizens and authorities alike for government to account for tens of Billions of Leones that cannot be accounted for in 2022.

It is imperative that steps be taken to rectify these irregularities, reinforcing the commitment to fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency within our government.

The consequences of inaction may be dire, impacting the very fabric of our nation’s progress and prosperity.

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