What’s Happening To COVID-19 Money?

The Ministry of Finance should be highly recommended for updating the general public on the donations towards the COVID-19 fight and how they are being expended towards the COVID-19 activities around the country. We however believe the quantum of expenditures highlighted in the Ministry of Finance’s updates does not reflect the reality on the ground, given the deafening complaints from several quarters engaged in the COVID-19 fight.
Very recently, for example, there were reports of how personnel of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) attached to quarantine centres around the country have not been receiving their risk allowances from their authorities despite the dangerous task they are performing. These disgruntled personnel, according to report, sometimes survive through the assistance of the colleagues in the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) with whom they are deployed.
There are also allegations of how quarantine centres are not receiving the required supplies for their daily sustenance. Whereas people kept in quarantine are supposed to be entitled to three meals a day and other entitlements, they are reportedly receiving less than three meals and are without other basic necessities the government is supposed to cater for. Even the conditions of most of the centres are reportedly appalling with porous security.
Many other workers and volunteers in the COVID-19 fight have equally registered their dissatisfaction with the untimely payment of what they described as ‘paltry risk allowances’ for the dangerous work they are doing.
It is against the backdrop of the aforesaid allegations, emerging from the quarantine centres and among workers and volunteers in the COVID-19 fight, that we believe the Anti-Corruption Commission Taskforce and Audit Service Sierra Leone must investigate and audit the vote controllers dealing with funds released from the two accounts of the COVID-19 Response by the Ministry of Finance, to ascertain the veracity of those allegations.
Though many people were indicted and even jailed for Ebola money, and more are to fall victim according to report of the Commissions of Inquiry, we Sierra Leoneans have the notoriety for always grabbing the opportunity to steal public funds because of greed, selfishness and insensitivity to the plight of impoverished Sierra Leoneans.
Why should junior military personnel attached to quarantine centres be complaining of risk allowances if funds released by the Ministry of Finance are judiciously spent? Why are people in quarantine centres not getting their required daily three meals a day and other basic necessities? These are some of the genuine allegations that should be investigated because the funds have been disbursed for those purposes.
It is not the paper transparency and accountability of the Ministry of Finance that matters; it is a matter of ensuring that what is due to Caesar is given to Caesar.

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