Sierra Leone government officials react to report of missing Billions by Auditor General

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 December 2019:

It’s now more than twenty-four hours, since the Sierra Leone Auditor General Report 2018 went public. There have been mixed reactions to the findings of the report, especially key highlight showing that One Hundred and Forty One Billion Leones of government cash (about $14 million) cannot be found.

Supporters of the current SLPP government say that the Bio-led government cannot be held responsible for all of the missing cash, after being in power for only seven and a half months out of the twelve months audited.

But the fact remains that the present government must take ownership of the 2018 Auditor General Report, and held accountable for the missing cash.

Responding to this charge levied at the government, the Anti-Corruption Commission this afternoon published a statement, saying that it has started studying the report and will soon take appropriate action to investigate what happened to the missing Billions. This is what the statement said:

“ACC COMMENCES EXAMINATION OF AUDITED REPORT ON THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS OF SIERRA LEONE

“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that it has commenced examination of the Auditor General’s Report for the Financial Year ended 31st December, 2018 conducted by the Audit Service Sierra Leone and tabled before Parliament yesterday.

“The ACC notes and welcomes the ongoing public interest and debates on the said Report on the management of public and donor funds in Sierra Leone.

“As the institution charged with the responsibility of enforcing Accountability in Public Life,  the ACC is now examining the aforesaid Report with a view to ascertaining any breaches of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 or needs for intervention by the ACC at this stage; and/or identify system lapses within the audited institutions for appropriate action. The Commission is also cognizant of the role of Parliament regarding this issue and it shall be collaborating with same in the interest of prudent financial management of the country.

“The ACC attaches utmost importance to the judicious use of monies and other resources meant for the People of Sierra Leone. Therefore, it wishes to make it abundantly clear that anyone found wanting shall face the full force of the law as will be appropriate with no exceptions.

“In this regard, the public is therefore encouraged to exercise patience while the Commission does a cursory and careful review of the Report and commence taking steps within the shortest time possible as may be expedient. The ACC shall continue to update the public as and when necessary.
The public is reassured that transparency and accountability in the management of Public Funds shall continue to be of paramount interest to the ACC.” END.

But, if anyone can help the ACC and the government find out what really happened to the missing Billions, it is the government’s Financial Secretary – Sahr Jusu and the Minister of Finance – Jacob Jusu Saffa.

Writing on behalf of the Ministry of Finance today, this is what Financial Secretary – Sahr Jusu said:

“I would like to present on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Hon Jacob Jusu Saffa (Photo), and the Economic Management Team, our profound gratitude to the Auditor General and her Team for submitting the 2018 Annual Audit Report to Parliament on time, as stipulated by the Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act.

“We are most gratified that the Public Accounts of 2018 has been given an UNQUALIFIED Audit Opinion. An unqualified audit opinion on the financial statements of an institution or government provided by certified Auditors represents a professional and independent opinion that the financial statements as presented gives a True and Fair view of monies received and expenditures undertaken during the course of the year.

“In the Auditor General’s Statement, she warmly recognized and stated  “I would like to acknowledge the Government for its commitment to the continuous public financial management reforms which are aimed at further enhancing same in Sierra Leone”.

“Thus, commending the Government for its continued effort in improving the basis for which public officials are spending and accounting for use of tax payers money and raising concerns of public interest is demonstration of the Auditors fairness  and independence in assessing government financial management.

“Despite these efforts, the Auditor General, like in many other institutional audits – particularly audit of public accounts across the world, has raised serious concerns of loss of revenue of Le140.9 billion (about $14.0 million or 0.02 percent of the total 2018 Budget).

“We commend the Auditor General for bringing these and other issues to the fore and we (as fiduciary agent of the Government) will work with Parliament and key stakeholders, including the individual persons and Ministries, Departments and Agencies, to implement the Auditor General’s recommendations and address all salient issues raised.

“Overall, we commend the role of Parliament in their oversight in ensuring that public funds are used rationally with the principles of equity, transparency and accountability. This is also clearly stated in the Auditor General’s report that “In my effort to use the knowledge gained through audit engagements to improve public administration, I sought and developed strategic relationships with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and other parliamentary oversight bodies, providing them with insight and information to enable them execute their respective mandates”.

“We commit to remain a Transparent and Accountable Government in the management of State resources, ensuring fiscal discipline, probity and accountability for Human Capital Development and job creation. Have a wonderful 2019 Christmas and New Year festive season.” END

The parliament of Sierra Leone will examine the Report when it returns from Christmas break in January. In the meantime, the Anti-Corruption Commission has started ploughing through the 389 page report, to find out what happened to Fourteen Million Dollars of public funds.

17 Comments

  1. All the shallow minded tactics,used against me on the Forum has failed,and will continue to fail; Saidu Conteh(GreatSayedna)knows he is a Superstar,already approaching legendary status,an enigma,soaring like an eastern Dragon towards unreachable heights of success,and Political Fame.

    Why would a precious Diamond, revered, and admired by many,disguise itself into an ordinary unwanted,piece of Charcoal Mr Komba?(lol)

    If you guys can’t cope,at least be honest,say it out loud,for the world to hear….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  2. I personally believe that this is a positive reaction from the New Direction government. Unlike the former corrupt APC government, instead of coming to defend their policies, they will refer to all the processes and procedures as a witch-hunt.

  3. Can ACC catch ‘BIG FLIES’ or engage in selective justice in pursuit of their corruption fight in Sierra Leone? This is a big test for the ACC to justify their worthiness in executing their duties for the people of Sierra Leone. We are watching the ACC how they can prove their independenc in the interest of ordinary Sierra Leoneans.

  4. Once upon a time in Sierra Leone there were Finance Ministers with level heads and prudent, judicious minds. Shrewd, charming, pragmatic thinkers and deal makers that kept our economy robust, thriving and sustainable in the worst and most unpredictable economic times. True.

    Not so today. The man in charge of our nation’s finances is a predator that feeds on the needs and vulnerabilities of the poor, struggling masses. And like a ruthless, vicious Piranha he attacks, devours and shows no mercy whatsoever. No doubt in my mind, such a man is fully aware of the massive thefts, corruption and shady dealings by his government, yet just like the puppet ACC, tribalism and partisan sentiments dictate to them that they must look the other way and then cast all blame directly on a passive opposition no longer in power.

    Sierra Leone, my only home, is the only place in the world that I know of where irresponsible finger pointing by government in power against opposition forces is cherished, celebrated and highly condoned. But then again, what better options do these silly, incompetent people have, other than to demean and degrade themselves through their tireless, compulsive, indulgence in the worst kinds of contemptible acts, indiscretions, rampant robbery and theft, done discreetly behind closed SLPP doors.(lol) Shady to the bone! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Saidu Conteh said: “Once upon a time in Sierra Leone there were Finance Ministers with level heads and prudent, judicious minds. Shrewd, charming, pragmatic thinkers and deal makers that kept our economy robust, thriving and sustainable in the worst and most unpredictable economic times.”

      Saidu, are you allright bro’? Is this a joke or day dreaming? What time was this? Who was the president then?

  5. “Supporters of the Koroma government may argue that most of the fraud is committed by civil servants and not by the president and the members of his cabinet. However, the fact that the government has done little to curb corruption – such as vigorous prosecutions, sacking of senior officials, and other deterrent measures to stop the blatant financial malfeasance, attest to the complicity of those in power in this massive loss of public resources.

    “And the fact remains that President Koroma’s APC government perennially refuses to act on the Auditor-General’s “oft-raised concern on the need to firmly and comprehensively address the most basic elements of internal control and cash management, as well as the quality and accuracy of accounting….” – Sierra Leone Telegraph, 10 February 2018.

    When the 10 February 2018 article was published by the Telegraph, only Alusine Fallay and Abu Jalloh contributed comments. The so called vociferous King Loggy 350% APC to the Bone who is now posting under different monikers here, including Young4na, Saidu Conteh and Oluwale John maintained a stoic silence. This was also true of Sahr Matturi whose Kono brother was for the affected years in bed with President Koroma.

    Today, Saidu Conteh et al who it seems only came into existence yesterday are the ones calling for the jugular of President Bio, despite the fact the report contain several favorable comments from the Auditor General about the strives made by the government during this reporting period to stop several of the free for all leakages that was common in the previous reporting periods.

    Having said that, I want to applaud the ACC for jumping in to kick start the probe into the areas that have been found wanton even before our sleeping parliament wakes up from its stupor. My only appeal to them and to us all Sierra Leoneans including vociferous critics like King Loggy aka Oluwale John, Young4na, Sahr Maturi etc is to continue to pile the pressure and monitoring of the ACC investigation so that we can know who is the bad apple and whether or not that person would be treated as a sacred cow as was reminiscent in the former Koroma regime. Sierra Leone must and should change. This is not party or tribal issue because when things go bad all of Sierra Leone suffer.

    Mr. Editor can you give us a holiday treat by interviewing Mr. Sallieu Tejan Jalloh – the Journalist in Sierra Leone, to tell us about what has become of the matter he was following up on with the Chief Minister? We need to know, as it is prudent that all bad weeds must be uprooted before we enter into 2020.

    • Kemoh Brima—“When the 10 February 2018 article was published by the Telegraph, only Alusine Fallay and Abu Jalloh contributed comments. The so called vociferous King Loggy 350% APC to the Bone who is now posting under different monikers here, including Young4na, Saidu Conteh and Oluwale John maintained a stoic silence”

      If my memory serves me well, I have been reading the Sierra Leone Telegraph for the past 7yrs or so, however, my participation in the commenting sections only goes back about 6 months ago. I challenge you to prove me wrong by going through the commenting archives in the entire 2018 and beyond. As a Sierra Leonean, I have always been critical of any regime that is not serving the interest of our citizens.

      If you happen to know me personally or anyone around me, you will find out that I was a vocal critic of the previous regime just like I am doing today. Acknowledging that the 2 major political parties share a lot of bad character traits, I have long since decided never to sell my soul to these devils; so my loyalties lie to none but mama Salone.

    • Thank you Kemoh. Thanks for your patient and trying very hard to convey educated facts and reasoning. A true patriot indeed.

      Mr. Saidu Conteh, is it true that you have many pseudonym on this platform?

  6. Let us accept and commend these three institutions (Auditor General, ACC and the Ministry of Finance) for the manner in which they have managed to present their case for the good of our country! It shows that political and institutional maturity are slowly but gradually picking up in Salone. The rest I leave to the political agitators from SLPP and APC to come up with their conspiracy theories and their hidden truths of yesterday and today.

    Did I forget my friend Mr. Matturi (C4C)? No of course not…..he is on my side!

    • To be honest with you Mr. Moiba, I totally agree with you on two out of the three institutions – the Auditor General’s Department and the ACC. The Ministry of Finance has just become a MESS, and the positions of the two GENTLEMEN heading that MINISTRY are not tenable in my view. The FINANCIAL SECRETARY GENTLEMAN and the MINISTER OF FINANCE GENTLEMAN must GO in order to bring CREDIBILITY to the MINISTRY OF FINANCE.

      We can’t just have a MINISTRY OF FINANCE run by SCANDALS and SCANDALOUS INDIVIDUALS. I urge the President to make the right decision as soon as possible. I know you reckon what my answer will be Anthony. GOD BLESS YOU Mr. Anthony Moiba.

  7. This is sad news for our country and the people. Sierra Leone like the rest of Africa is evolving and in that process we and especially public officials must be mindful of our actions. I have every faith in the ACC to carryout a thorough investigation of the aforementioned misappropriation of our country’s funds.

    The world has changed and as a country we must change. One of the many reasons why some of our brothers languish in the West and face all sorts of abuse and racial discriminations is because our politicians have failed us. Let us be patient and the Commissions will do what is good for the country.

    • Thanks Trevor. Most of us ran away from bad leadership. The sad thing is some of our brothers and sisters are still living in the past. They do not seem to get reality yet. The world is changing but they are still in the stone age. For someone to say ‘the rising sun will rise again’ without qualifiers like: with a good leader or intelligent person is scary. Does he mean the rising sun will rise again with Bai Koroma? Bai Koroma is one of the most stupid and uneducated Sierra Leonean leaders ever. It is a shame. Dommage!!

  8. The Bio administration seems to be hopping from one disaster after the other. First, the President’s nose was bloodied by no less a person than his Chief Minister,David Francis, who got himself caught up in a $1.5 million scandal. The country is at a loss as to how the whole mess was resolved or sorted out; presumably the Chief Minister was quite simply advised to keep his head down for the storm to fizzle out.

    Next came the affair of the home which the President and his wife had leased from the Terrys in a well understood contract by all parties. Without a general consensus by all parties to the contract, especially Quintin Terry, who had the power of attorney, the Bios contrived to breach the contract by dealing with Diane Terry directly.

    President Bio needs a rudimentary lesson on what constitutes a contract – it does not have room for any family feud, or anything else other than what it stipulates. Being President does not excuse anyone from obeying the terms of a contract.It is called bullying and using executive power in an ultra vires fashion.

    Now comes the Auditor-general’s report with the missing billions. President Bio must understand that the moment he was sworn in almost two years ago he assumed full responsibility for everything associated with the government, including all finances. It became the responsibility of his Minister of Finance,if he was professional enough,to ask the Auditor-general for an interim report covering the part of 2018 when APC were in power so as to get a clearer picture of where the nation’s finances stood. By so doing he would have been in a position to raise the alarm that there were massive discrepancies which should be addressed immediately which could have led to the arrest of the suspected culprits.

    But the trouble with J.J.Saffa is that the Economics and Finance that he knows can be written on the palm of a newly born baby. No wonder then that in fulfilling the demands of the constitution to present his budget to Parliament he used his narrow mind to give the President a blank cheque whenever he travels, not caring a bit about the emaciated people that he sees everyday everywhere in the country.

    We await a full and unambiguous explanation about the missing billions, or President Bio’s popularity will continue to erode as we start seeing him as just another typical Sierra Leone head of state who starts off like a race horse but is quickly whipped to a trot because millions of different currencies are being dangled in front of him. All he has to do is stretch out his hand and grab them and become a multi billionaire on our backs.

  9. This is what I always say to this government – they are not honest to the people of Sierra Leone. This government is not serious. A serious government will always take responsibility for their wrongs, but this government only accept something that goes in their favour. Whenever something bad happens they are ready to shift the blame on to the previous government.

    It’s a shame on the part of this present administration for them to try to shift the blame on to the previous government. Had it been that the report goes in their favour they would have claimed ownership of the report. We all know that corruption is still going on in this present government but they choose to defend their wrong doing through the help of the ACC commissioner. God will surely expose all of them.

    • Alieu said: “This is what I always say to this government – they are not honest to the people of Sierra Leone.”

      And you are not honest to readers. Moving on, some comments are really not worthy of a response. Now you know why people do not/ will not respond to your comments.

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