Sierra Leone: Disenchantment At EOC - Deputy Coordinator Stands Accused of Flouting Procurement Procedures

There is currently serious disenchantment among staff at the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) over the decision of the Deputy Coordinator in Charge of Admin and Finance to contract a private firm, BDO as a fiduciary agent to manage the finances of the centre without allegedly observing due procurement procedures.

After the EOC was established to champion the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Finance assigned four senior staff including the Assistant Accountant General, Assistant Director, Budget Bureau, Acting Director, Internal Audit and one Senior Procurement Officer, to serve as fiduciary staff of the EOC.

According to what was gathered by this medium, the said team of staff was assigned to set up structures for the effective management of government finances at the EOC, but the team has been informally notified about their replacement, after the deputy coordinator contracted a private firm to manage the finances of the centre.

Claims are that the said move constitutes a complete waste of state resources as the contract would cost the government over two billion Leones for the period of three months, instead of the over one hundred million Leones given to staff of the ministry of finance as allowances.

Further claims are that the deputy coordinator entered into the said contract with BDO without involving the National Public Procurement Authority, which is the statutory body that supervises all procurement processes undertaken by public institutions.

He also stands accused of going into such contractual arrangement because he was allegedly interested in receiving kick-backs from BDO as against saving the state from wastage.

When contacted, Sheku A.Fantamadi Bangura said immediately he was appointed by President Bio sometimes in May, he made his intention known that he would replace the team of staff assigned by the Ministry of Finance to EOC, because they could not performed their task well.

Bangura who doubles as the Deputy Minister of Finance 2,said after they sent the team to serve as fiduciary staff of the EOC, the ministry did send another team to assess their capacity and that the said team reported that the fiduciary team was weak and needed to be bolstered.

According to him, the team was incapacitated and that they hadn't recent financial software to manage the centre with the speed it requires, adding that most of the work being done by the team was manual; a situation he said could not work well in an emergency.

He said the hiring of private a firm was not done out of malice, but to ensure effective management of state finances.

He said he was advised by the procurement committee of the EOC to use restrictive method to hire the service of the private firm and that a list of credible firms was given to him by the Audit Service Sierra Leone.

He said he used the sad list from Audit Service and sent out proposals to four firms, including BDO,Moore Sierra Leone,Baker Tily, and AVRS,adding that the process was reviewed by a panel which recommended BDO for the contract while he approved the contract.

He accepted responsibility for the ministry's failure to fully capacitate the assigned fiduciary team.

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