Concord Times (Freetown)

Sierra Leone: Billions Not Accounted for At Fisheries Ministry

The 2011 Auditor General's report which is currently before parliament has revealed that a total of six receipt books in respect of licenses, royalties transshipment, local discharge, export and import were not submitted by the

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources for audit inspection. According to the report, a review of the ministry's cashbook revealed that the sum of eight billion, four hundred and four million, one hundred and fifty-four thousand, five hundred and forty-five Leones (Le8, 404, 154,545) was collected for the said receipt books.

Because there was no evidence that the amount was deposited into the bank, it was recommended that the Permanent Secretary must ensure the receipt books and the amount collected on them are presented to Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) for verification within 30 days of receipt of the report or the sum of Le8, 404, 154, 545 be refunded. The report also asked the Commissioner-General of NRA to ensure that receipts are issued as soon as revenue was collected.

"In spite of a written request made by the auditors to the NRA, the bank statement for the month of December 2010 was not made available to ascertain that fines collected by the ministry amounting to the sum of four hundred and fifty-seven million, seven hundred and forty-seven thousand, six hundred and fifty Leones (Le457, 747,650) were deposited into bank account No. 1100843 and the ministry did not prepare bank reconciliation statement for the period under review," the report stated. The auditors observed that the NRA collector only issued receipts to a fishing company for Le475, 617, 707, resulting in a difference of Le213, 182,312 not brought to account. It was therefore recommended that the amount of Le457, 747,650 collected as fines should be paid into the said account without delay and the Permanent Secretary has to ensure that the sum of Le6, 788,489,187.44 was recovered and paid back into the account and the paying slip sent to the ASSL for verification within 30 days of the receipt of the report.

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