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As Sierra Leone Audit Report 2015 reads, Le65.4bn gone missing!

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The 2015 Audit Service Sierra Leone report has revealed that over Le 65.4 billion could not be accounted for by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“We estimate there have been losses in cash and stores of over Le65.4 billion. As in previous years this has occurred for a number of reasons, some inter-related. Overall, it strongly suggests that public financial management continues to have considerable much room for improvement in all MDAs,” the report stated.

The 2015 report, which was tabled in parliament on Tuesday, 31st January, 2017 stated that several significant lapses were observed in procurement procedures resulting in incomplete transactions and hence unsatisfactory service delivery, and that monies allocated to some MDAs were not accounted for at all.

“A perennial problem, payments without adequate supporting documents persists in almost all the MDAs making audit substantiation of the transactions impossible. We noted many cases where withholding taxes are not deducted from suppliers or contractors and paid to the NRA as specified by section 117(4) of the Income Tax Act, 2000.”

The report continues that imprest accounts were not properly closed out, resulting in funds not being accounted for, with the result that cash controls were weakened and that accurate posting of expenditure to ledger accounts was also seriously impaired.

The 2015 Audit report further states that fixed assets, stores and fuel records were not adequately recorded in applicable registers and other records, making control weak and audit verification difficult.

It however observed that although there has been modest improvement over the years, there was still significant reluctance to make available requested documents to auditors for review, as required by law.

The report indicates non-implementation of recommendations made by the Audit Service Sierra Leone in their previous reports.

“As noted, the extent to which our recommendations for improvement in controls remain unimplemented is not acceptable and many entities have failed to make adequate, if any, responses to our findings. The findings do not inspire confidence that resources are being managed optimally with due regard for economy, efficiency or effectiveness or fully in accordance with the intent of Parliament.

“Our assessment for the last five years has exposed a minor increase in the percentage of improvement for five MDA’s and two have regressed by an average of 8%. Ministry of Health and Sanitation has maintained its implementation rate of last year at 25% of our recommendations. The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology made a minor increase of 4% whilst the Office of the President, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and Freetown City Council, made an average increase of 15% on recommendations implemented (31.3% in 2014 to 46% in 2015).”

The report stated that overall only 28.8% of recommendations have been implemented by the eight selected entities. In absolute numbers, for the five years 2011 to 2015 there were 959 recommendations for the selected entities of which 276 were implemented, 65 are works-in-progress and 618 were not implemented.

Meanwhile, just as in successive years since 2012, Sierra Leone again performed miserably in the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Index, ranked 123 out of 176 countries, scoring 30 points, trailing neighbor Liberia which scored 37 points and other countries in the sub-region.

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