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APC Gov’t Sweeps Over One Trillion Leones Under The Carpet

APC Gov’t Sweeps Over One Trillion Leones Under The Carpet

Based on public available data, the Sierra Leone Government (GOSL) headed by His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his All Peoples Congress (APC) Political Party may have presided over the most corrupt era in the history of the country, as they have been unable to account for close to One Trillion Leones.

A review of the published reports by the Auditor General from 2009 to 2015 revealed that, about Five Hundred and Seventy Billion Leones ( Le 571 B)  is unaccounted for due to ‘’theft, fraud or serious irregularities in Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA’s)’’ alone. This does not include loses recorded in Public Enterprises, Commissions and Projects (such as the Ebola epidemic).

MDAs have the explicit responsibilities for our system of governance, such as finance, education, health, security and defense and any time they lose money, the welfare of the citizens is adversely affected.

The documented loss of funds is massive and unprecedented in the history of the country within a 7-year span, averaging about 82 billion Leones (Le 82 B) lost per year. If we extrapolate these averages to include the three years of current Government, plus the unaccounted for monies documented by the Auditor-General (AG) for Public Enterprises, Commissions and Projects, the amount could easily top the one trillion Leones mark.

According to the AG’s published data, the unaccounted for monies per year vary from Ten billion Leones to one hundred and forty one million Leones. Here is the yearly average breakdown for MDAs: year unaccounted public funds in 2009, eighty one billion Leones, 2010 eighty one billion Leones, 2011 one hundred and eleven billion Leones, 2012 eighty two billion Leones, 2013 ten billion Leones, 2014 one hundred and forty one billion Leones, 2015 sixty five billion Leones.

All of the lost money, according to the published Audit Reports, bear the hallmark of the fraudulent activities, such as, payments without supporting documents, making grants without retirement details such as receipts, invoices etc, paying salaries to unverified workers, withdrawal from Government accounts or evidence or procurement delivery, transfers from transit accounts that cannot be traced,etc.

It can be argued that most of the fraud is committed by civil servants and not by the President and the members of his cabinet. However, the fact that the Government has not done anything (such as vigorous prosecutions; sacking and other deterrent measures) to stop the blatant financial malfeasance attests to the complicity of the GoSL in this massive loss of public resources. Add the fact that President Koroma’s APC Government perennially refused to act on the Auditor General’s “oft-raised concern on the need to firmly and comprehensively address the most basic elements of internal control and cash management as well as the quality and accuracy of accounting…”.

Supporters of the President and his APC government whose complicity in this massive wave of public corruption has so far not been explained might ask why its matters that their Government maintains slopping bookkeeping.

The simple answer is you do not want the citizens to think that President Bai Koroma and his cabinet are stealing public funds for their personal used without any repercussions. However, for the more important legal and fiduciary reason, let us quote the Auditor General’s report.

‘’Governments should only collect revenue and make expenditure as formally authorized by an act of parliament. The passage of the Budget into law is the expression of Parliament’s intent. It is and must remain supreme. Any expenditure made for a purpose other than that intended by Parliament is contrary to law. In short, all public moneys must be fully accounted for and in a manner compliant with the laws, policies, regulations and good accounting practice.

When revenue is not recorded or banked, when monies go missing or when procurement rules are broken or expenditure are not supported by the relevant documents, in addition to being a breach of law, these matters erode the confidence of civil society and donors-the integrity of Government and the reputation of Sierra Leone is damaged”.

As the citizens prepared to go to the polls on March 7th to elect a new Government, they should be asking those seeking their votes to answer how they intend to tackle the massive public corruption documented in the Auditor General’s Reports.

By Genghis Khan

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