By Ralph Sesay
The 2018 Auditor General’s Report has exposed blatant disregard for procurement processes and financial management practices at the Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Jacob Jusu Saffa.
The Report which thoroughly scrutinized expenditures of the Ministry under key four sub headings 2018 noted that salaries totaling over seven hundred and forty-three billion Leones in respect of additional staff on the payroll, were not supported by relevant documentary evidence such as appointment letters and other necessary documents in tandem with sections 114 of the Public Financial Management Regulations of 2018.
It was also observed that irregularities around the areas of salary stoppages or deletions in the pay roll had identified the names of 21 staff as having been deducted from the payroll in 2018.
The report had also noted, amongst other things, instabilities in the monthly payroll in which three staff were removed and later added to the payroll.
Audit Service Sierra Leone however disappointingly stated that in all of the circumstances, no evidence such as transfer letters, promotion or demotion letters and correspondences of authorisation were made available to the audit team to justify such deletions and additions.
On expenditure management and control, travel and subsistence expenses, the report noted that daily subsistence allowances to the tune of over seven hundred billion Leones were paid to staff during the same period
Regrettably, the report says relevant supporting documents to justify such whooping expenditure were never provided to the team.
The AASL report had also indicted the Ministry of Finance for failing to go by established procurement rules by failing to advertise procurement contracts in line with Section 37 of the Public Procurement Act of 2016.
The report discovered that advertisement of various procurement contracts by the Ministry of Finance for furniture and ICT equipment of which payment to the tune of Le300, 000,000 was made, was never subjected for auditing to the AASL team under the period under review.
The Ministry, the AASL report continued, had contravened the Public Procurement Act of 2006 by deliberately silting procurement activities for goods and services and by also using the RFQ method for goods amounting to Le1,533,475,000.
In all of the discoveries by AASL Sierra Leone, the Deputy Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance has downplayed the discoveries by the auditors and had failed to forward convincing arguments or justifications or as the case may be supporting documents for expenditures amounting to billions of Leones as recommended by the Audit team.
Many who have spoken to this medium are disappointed that a Ministry which should superintend over an efficient public financial management system, has disregarded all decent and acceptable practices and completely took to run the Ministry as if it is his firm.
The various discoveries of the 2018 Auditor General Report especially as it relates to the Ministry of Finance has also defeated the New Direction campaign which was dubbed as the effective utilization of state resources.
By Ralph Sesay