Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 July 2021:
Last Tuesday, vice president Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh of Sierra Leone chaired a high-level meeting involving the Anti-Corruption Commission, Parliamentary Accounts Committee, Audit Service Sierra Leone, Ministry of Finance, and Public Sector Reform Unit, to discuss how best to improve public finance accountability and transparency.
The meeting was held following a global report on government transparency published by the US government which concluded that the government of Sierra Leone is not only failing to be transparent but is taking no steps to improve.
Vice President Juldeh said that the Anti-Corruption Commission, Parliamentary Accounts Committee, Audit Service Sierra Leone, Ministry of Finance, and Public Sector Reform will become the new information sharing platform that will help the government improve its coordination of accountability issues, track and deliver benchmarks, ensure compliance with Auditor-General’s recommendations, and help support the ACC in controlling corruption in Sierra Leone.
The meeting was attended by the Commissioner of ACC, the CEO of the National Public Procurement Authority, the Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC), the Financial Secretary of Ministry of Finance, the Auditor General, the MCCU Coordinator, the Minister of State in the VP’s office and other support staff of the respective constituent institutions of the Platform.
Notable by his absence was Chief Minister JJ Saffa, whose role in the government it is to coordinate all government departments and ministries (MDAs), manage their effectiveness and account for their performance.
Ndeye Koroma, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MCCU, highlighted the objectives of the high-level accountability platform. These objectives, she explained, are centered on how government institutions can be effectively coordinated to improve accountability and transparency to gain citizens’ trust in Government.
Mrs. Koroma also underscored that, pursuing these objectives requires high-level involvement and presupposes a technical team to drive the process.
The team will work to integrate all international benchmarks in addition to the MCC and solve systemic problems facing MDAs, promote collaboration and cooperation, take a holistic view and approach in improving service delivery by identifying leakages, wastage, and inefficiencies.
The lack of cooperation by MDAs was highlighted by the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala who said that “cooperation of MDAs with auditors is a big challenge and that is a fundamental issue to be addressed by all to ensure a better accountability space.”
The ACC Czar went on to say “if the underlying issues of co-operation in regard timely disclosure is tackled, most issues in the Audit Report will not recur.”
The Auditor General (AG), Audit Service Sierra Leone, Lara Taylor-Pearce (Photo), said that, all MDAs should realize that the AG’s office is to be seen as a “watchdog rather than a bloodhound” and must allow the AG’s office to do its job.
It was agreed at the end of the meeting that the Anti-Corruption Commission, Parliamentary Accounts Committee, Audit Service Sierra Leone, Ministry of Finance, and Public Sector Reform Unit will continue to meet to review progress every three months.