Concord Times (Freetown)

24 February 2014

Sierra Leone: MDAs to Account for Le82 Billion

Principal Auditor of Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL), Alfred M'batilo Saffa, has revealed that government ministries, departments and agencies were unable to account for the colossal sum of eighty-two billion, one hundred and forty-six million, five hundred and seventy-five thousand, six hundred and ninety-six leones (Le82, 146, 575,696).

He made this disclosure during a presentation of the 2012 Audit Report to Non-State Actors and Directors at Santano House, Howe Street in Freetown. The ceremony was for Non-State Actors to look at the 2012 audit report accurately and analyze it.

He said MDAs were unable to present accurate and sufficient supporting documents that would have substantiated the items or funds utilized, adding that there was no relevant procurement document, as well as proceeds from sales of bidding documents. Withholding taxes, he added, were not accounted for while fuel was consumed without operating records. "There was no evidence of recoveries for distribution of fertilizers, and bank statements confirming payment of revenue into the bank," he explained.

Mr. Saffa further revealed that during the verification and auditing process, 70% of MDAs complied with accurate responses to his department but that there were lots of outstanding issues and irregularities that were yet to be clarified by some MDAs, adding that out of 250 entities, only 195 responded to their management letters.

He noted that the ASSL was created to ensure MDAs effectively and efficiently utilize funds given to them by either the government or developmental partners.

On his part, National Coordinator of Non-State-Actors, Sidie Bah, said the process of presenting the report started about a year ago as a way of demonstrating and moving forward the standards of public entities and the State.

He said the report needs media coverage as the auditors faced lots of challenges during the auditing process, adding that the support of civil society is highly needed to help create the necessary attention.

Meanwhile, Bah noted that Sierra Leone is being rated for the timely reporting of audit exercises within a year as compared to other developing countries.

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