Sierra Leone: RMFA Withdraws Over Le6Bn Without Supporting Document

Deputy Auditor General, Audit Service Sierra Leone, Aiah Gbondo-Tugbawa, has told the Justice Biobele Commission of Inquiry that their 2015 financial audit report showed that Le6, 155,137,162 was withdrawn from the Road Maintenance Fund (RMFA) account without any supporting document.

Gbondo-Tugbawa, who was testifying at the former Special Court building in Freetown said, page 205 to 210 of the 2015 audit report revealed that the said amount was withdrawn from the RMFA account without any supporting document.

He said it was recommended that the accountant makes the document available to the auditor within 30 days, otherwise the said money should be paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the receipt submitted to the auditor general's office, but could not confirm whether either of the recommendations were adhered to.

The witness said the report further revealed that from the sample of 1,019 drainage workers from Freetown, Makeni and Kenema, only 715 workers were verified with a total sum of Le1,144,000,000.

"The remaining 304 workers with a total sum of Le486, 400,000 did not avail themselves for verification," he said.

He said the team was unable to verify drainage clearing workers in Bo and outside the provincial headquarter towns.

He revealed that 20 staff in Makeni were verified with a total salary of Le32, 000,000, but their signatories were inconsistent with those on the signed payment vouchers/ recipient list.

He testified that grants without retirement details totaling Le1, 609,403,316 utilized for project activities by the Ministry of Youth Affairs were also without details such as receipt, invoices etc.

According to the witness, the accountant was also asked to provide all relevant documents supporting the said transaction within 30 days or pays the money to the consolidated fund, with receipt forwarded to the Audit Service Sierra Leone.

"The Auditor commented that the retirement details of the Le235, 000,000 and recipient list were presented and verified," he said

H said the print out obtained from the Accountant Generals Department revealed that payment voucher number AG045372 totaling Le690, 000,000 did not reflect on the expense analysis as payment to the ministry.

"The remaining 684,403,316 was not accounted for and therefore the issue remained partially unresolved," the report states

On the report titled procurement procedures not followed for the Youth in Drainage Clearing Project, he said a review of procurement document submitted for audit revealed that, request for quotation and local purchased orders under the shopping method of procurement of tools valued at Le439, 325,000, were not made available even though request was made to the procurement officer.

He said procurement worth Le1,411,121,825 for the drainage clearing was done using the restricted bidding method, and that the ministry made advanced payment of 50% of the total cost in contravention of Section 135 (3) of the procurement regulation of 2006, which stipulates that the total amount of advance payment should not exceed 30% of the total contract price.

He further told the commission that Le20, 000 was deducted from the monthly allowances paid to some workers of the project without authority or agreement with the workers, and that the total amount deducted from that period was Le80,400,000.

The witness said procurement documents were not made available for the National Youth Farm Project, adding that advertisements, minutes of procurement at evaluation committee meetings, and certificates of work for the construction of five water towers at the National Youth Farm valued at Le299,920,000, were not made available for audit inspection.

Gbondo-Tugbawa told the commission that Le562,930,500 was withdrawn from the National Youth Farm Project account without supporting document.

He said they recommended the project accountant to submit relevant supporting document for verification within 30 days, otherwise the whole amount should be refunded.

He further testified that disbursement totaling Le212, 420,000 were made from the National Youth Farm Project in 2014 without supporting documents.

The report further states that most of the youths that were supposed to be employed should be underprivileged youths, but it was the direct opposite as 35% of the youth employed in the said project were already on salaries including Members of Parliament and civil servants.

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