NGC (the National Grand Coalition) Party leader, Dr Kandeh Yumkella, has confirmed that leakages, in ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs), are still alive and kicking. He said this in an interview with the Radio Democracy 98.1 on Wednesday 24th March 2021.
Dr Yumkella’s assertion did not come from his personal investigation, but from issues reported by the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL).
Leakages, by all indications, are those transactions, contracts and employee service jobs done to favour the individuals or accomplice’s pockets without the benefit reaching government or its citizens. In short, it is the act of stealing government money in one way or the other.
Examples of these leakages include:
1) The Law Court and the court clerks who ‘Maradona’ case files and deprive government of all fines; jurors doing their bits, overdue cases, lawyers creating a citadel in justice.
2) The Ministry of Trade, with its 10 agencies all collecting fees or valuing, examining products, petroleum, cocoa, coffee, palm oil exports and Standards Bureau for expired goods; Import and Export Promotions Agency, Corporate Affairs, Business Forum and Cooperatives; timber and Japanese, Indian and Chinese rice theft.
3) The Ministry of Education with its ghost teachers, school projects and external scholarship sagas.
4) The Ministry of Agriculture fertilisers, international sponsored projects, agribusiness funds, bow-tie farmers in air conditioner Hiluxes.
5) Ministry of Finance, with their contractor disbursement programs, special dollar salary packages, procurement invoice payments and maintenance of the foreign reserves, etc.
6) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with embassy or High Commission fees, bloated embassy staff abroad, management of foreign scholarship awards.
7) Ministry of Fisheries, with sale of valuable fish species, shrimps, ‘kuta’ and ‘snappers,’ etc., high sea transshipment, poaching by other nationals.
8) Ministry of Lands and Country Planning, with its half-baked surveyors scattered all over the place, ushering land grabbers, state land saga, surveys and plot fees.
9) Ministry of Mines and Minerals, with their undisclosed contract awards, prospecting licenses, no nationals at valuation sites, iron ore gravel shipped to China, with other mineral contents like gold, platinum and silver, mines wardens and monitors marauding. Smuggling at the height, untrained staff managing the affairs, mining sites are not inspected by Sierra Leoneans because of ignorance, sale of products in the International Commodity Markets are not monitored; foreign investors capitalising on the ignorance of the black people. The gold, diamonds, bauxite, iron ore, timber, rutile and chromite all leaving the soil of Sierra Leone without processing factories built here, etc.
10) Ministry of Local Government, with its disorganised local councils. No regular management structure for the city planners, city sanitation, housing, local court system, no straight forward tax system and local council link to the central government is in disarray, etc.
11) Ministry of Health, with all its troubles in the health deliveries, lack of medical facilities, nurses and doctors doing their customised duties, etc.
12) Ministry of Internal Affairs, struggling with lawlessness and the citizens’ responsibility to the state, failing to provide security across the cities and larger towns, etc.; the police deciding civil cases, traffic management, and maintenance of law and order; the SLRA, sleeping with road maintenance, construction, sub-contracting jobs because of lack of machines and technical ability.
The SLRSA fines and road fees, failure to redesign city traffic as the cities grow. Abandoning grey areas where traffic offences are rampant, too many motorbikes and tricycles observing no traffic signs, charging transport fees at will, marauding splinter poda podas, terrorising residential communities; the Airport at Lungi check-in and out, fees and charges, and market women and the micro credit, under-measuring and over pricing.
Dr. Yumkella, throughout that interview, did not sound like a politician, but he was merely a civil society advocate and therefore laid emphasis on the ASSL reports and government’s intention to muzzle the local government by subduing it to a separate system other than the general electoral process.
“For some of us, we believe that extraordinary happenings need extraordinary measures. Wait a minute, are the Local Councils really doing their expected jobs? Even those that are elected are just handpicked with regards no dignified ambience,” he charged.
“My take for the ASSL crisis is that they are shooting themselves in the leg,” Dr Yumkella.
“The work of the ASSL should have no trouble. If they are monitoring the various internal auditors, within the MDAs, ASSL is not proactive in throwing preventive measures,” Hon Yumkella again.