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MPs examine Freetown City Council

MPs examine Freetown City Council

Parliamentarians belonging to the Public Account Committee Wednesday 2nd scrutinized the Freetown City Council over corruption and maladministration unearthed by the Audit Service, Sierra Leone.

According to an audit report, the Freetown City Council (FCC) is to account for a colossal amount of  Le710, 500,000,  money collected from local tax in 2009.

The Deputy Auditor General, Audit Service, Sierra Leone, while making the queries to a number of FCC officials, including the Chief Administrator, the City Treasurer, and the Internal Auditor, said local tax books issued to tax collectors including councillors and ward committee members, were neither paid nor tickets stubs submitted to the council.

Mr Tamba Momoh said, however, that the FCC has inadequate control in the collection, recording and reporting of financial transactions.

The audit service noticed that a difference of Le60,748,000 was observed between a sample of the daily market collection sheets, and the receipts issued for the same by Cashiers of the Council.

He disclosed that they undertook a thorough examination of the lease rent document for Council properties and it was discovered that some tenants still owed City Council in respect of lease rent and has accumulated to Le172,216,200  for the period under review.

“It was observed that an amount to the tune of Le183,678,000 relating to Consultancy Services for the drawings of structures, Site Clearance etc., was given to three different contractors without the knowledge of the Procurement Unit, thereby demonstrating the procurement procedures were not adhered to, and the contract agreement was not produced for inspection,” Mr Momoh said.

He explained that the Procurement of Tricycles was split into three thirds to evade National Competitive Bidding (NCB), adding that, “procurement documents such as newspaper adverts, Minutes of Procurement meetings, bid evaluation reports among other sensitive documents were all not submitted for contract awarded to FACKBAND Construction Company and MKD JAZZ for the construction of shops and stores respectively at the Sewa Grounds Market.”

The Deputy Auditor added that the sum of Le959, 298,890 was discovered from among the contractors plus additional payment made with respect to the Sewa Ground Market, but was not stated in the financial statement.

Mr Momoh stressed that withholding taxes totalling Le46,273,976.60 were deducted from suppliers but there was no NRA receipts to prove whether those monies were submitted to NRA or not.

“Examination of payment vouchers presented for audit inspection revealed that payments made totalling Le1,069,139,935.25 were without the relevant supporting documents; receipts, LPOs, Pet forms etc., and that payments were made by Council amounting to Le770,634,405.05 for which payment vouchers were not presented for audit inspection.”

“The sum of Le213,098,064 was disbursed by the council not having the signature of neither the Chief Administrator nor the Treasurer. The sum of Le164,910,000 was paid in respect of ‘operation sweep’ revenue collection drive, and other related activities, but there was no signature of the recipient of the money.

Responding to these queries, the Chief Administrator of the Freetown City Council, Bowenson Phillips said 144 unsold local tax books which equivalent to 72 million Leones have been retrieved from those charged with the responsibility of selling them. He said most of these books were entrusted in the hands of traditional leaders through councillors, but as at now, these traditional leaders have not submitted the remaining books of the money.

However, the chairman of Public Account Committee, who doubles as the Deputy speaker of the House of Parliament, Hon. Chukuma Johnson, ordered the Chief Administrator to submit names of councillors who have not properly accounted for the local tax books. He said that the internal auditor of the Freetown City Council should immediately submit its report.

He assigned the Deputy Auditor to cross check and confirm some of the claims made by Council officials that they have recovered and restored some of the anomalies within the council.

Mary I Kamara

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