ACC engaged officials of the NRA in Kenema
As part of its institutional approach to public education, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), on Tuesday 19th April, 2011 engaged staff of the National Revenue Authority (NRA), at their Hanga Road office in Kenema.
Explaining the purpose of the meeting the Public Education Officer, Eastern Region, David Kanekey Conteh who chaired the meeting, gave the reasons for such engagement with the NRA. He said that the National Revenue Authority is the leading government agency charged with the responsibility of generating revenue for the government while the ACC works towards protecting the revenue generated by government through the checks and monitoring mechanisms which ensures that such funds are put into proper use. He emphasized the need for these two institutions to collaborate or partner in the fight against corruption, thereby building a formidable anti-corruption force, in the interest of Sierra Leone.
Mr. Conteh also noted the importance of the meeting as it will better inform officials of the NRA about corrupt practices public officers might indulge in that could render them culpable; and stressed that the NRA is as important to the nation as the ACC is, and therefore should see themselves as partners in development.
Giving the background of the Commission, the District Coordinator for Kenema District, Mr Mohamed Sylvanus Blake, reminded his audience about the brutal war that left untold suffering on the people of Sierra Leone. He said that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to look into the factors that resulted to the war. He said that bad governance, nepotism corruption among others emerged as key factors that led to the war. The TRC therefore recommended that a body be set up to fight against corruption which led to the formation of the Anti-Corruption Commission, by an Act of Parliament in 2000. He assured staff of the NRA about the impartiality, independence, professionalism of the ACC, noting that the ACC puts premium on coalition building/partnership with other government and non governmental agencies.
In his overview of the Public Education and External Outreach, Mr. Peter Baio Kamara, Public Education Officer – Southern Region, mentioned that the ACC uses among others; institutional and community approach to public education thus reaching the different groups of citizens across the country. This, the Commission believes, will help in raising public awareness about the bad effects of corruption on the society and the corresponding benefits a nation will enjoy from a corrupt free society. As the friendly face of the commission, the work of the Public Education and Eternal Outreach department is to do all it can to get everybody on board the fight against corruption.
The Southern Regional Manager of the ACC, with oversight responsibility for the Eastern region, Mr. Patrick Sandi spoke about the Intelligence, Investigation and Prosecution department of the Commission. He said before 2008 the Commission did not have the power to prosecute but with the enactment of the 2008 Act the ACC now has prosecutorial powers, whose implementation has been further decentralized to regions across the country. Mr. Sandi explained offences likely to be committed by NRA officials, such as Misappropriation of public funds and property; Offering, soliciting or accepting advantage; Impeding investment; Abuse of office or position, among others. He further expressed the vulnerability of NRA officials as they control huge sums of money, and therefore should be careful, as the fine for the contravention of any of these offences is a fine not less than thirty million Leones (Le 30,000,000) or three years imprisonment or both.
He concluded, by reminding the NRA officials about the recent report on the findings in the Public Perception Survey, and encouraged them to use that to step up and improve their public image the next time the Perception Survey will be conducted. He also encouraged officials to complete their Asset Declaration forms, as it is incumbent on every public officer to submit these forms on or before the dead line which is the 31st May 2011 stressing that the penalty for failing to comply is a fine not less than Twenty Million Leones (Le 20,000,000), or not less than one year imprisonment or both.
In his statement Mr. Peter M. Sinah, the Unit Head of NRA, in Kenema, expressed his hate for corrupt practices and dishonest gains. He informed participants that he has been doing well so far in the income generating drives of the NRA. He commented that he was able to generate about 2.5 billion Leones in 2010, compared to 800 million Leones raised the previous year. He however assured the ACC of his fullest cooperation.
The meeting attracted several questions from participants, which were answered by the Regional Manager and team.
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