-Ady Macauley argues
January 28, 2020
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Lawyer Ady Macauley, representing Persons of Interest at the Commissions of Inquiry has argued that allowances received by the former Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority (NRA), Haja Kallah Kamara, were legitimate.
He said the State fails to ascertain whether or not the monies received were leave allowances or entertainment allowances, as the column in which the alleged monies were indicated did not represent recordings for other allowances.
“There is no loss for the state because she has been receiving the same allowances as stated by law. The testimony of the Internal Auditor, Mr. Koroma that ‘fixed allowances’ were given to the Commissioner General as Acting is quite different from the month of January. It keeps fluctuating from February to December. The rightful allowances were received as she was entitled to them. In 2015, she was receiving the same amount as Commissioner General,” he argued.
It was alleged by the state that the erstwhile Commissioner General received Le50, 162,112 allowances from January to November, 2017, while in an Acting capacity, although she was not acting as Commissioner General.
During his testimony at the Justice Bankole Thompson Commission, the Director of Internal Audit of NRA, Philip Ahmid Koroma made the above claim.
The Director testified at the tribunal that Madam Kamara did collect both her salaries and acting allowances from January to December, adding that for the period under review, there was no Deputy Commissioner General at NRA.
He claimed that an excess amount of Le3.06 billion was discovered in the NRA staff payroll at the time they reviewed the payment advice prepared by the Human Resources (HR) Department for the attention of the Finance Department for the said amount to be paid to staff.
He said because of the quantum of money involved, they also had cause to engage the procurement department to ascertain whether procurement rules were followed, but to their greatest surprise, no procurement activity of such was shown to them.
He told the tribunal that the unit had to further their investigation to the finance department where they saw a list of payment made for vehicles, but could not trace the amount of Le2.3 billion in the report.
Mr. Koroma said they also discovered that Le1.8 had been paid for building repairs but could not lay hands on the payment vouchers.
However, Counsel Macauley charged that there were no mistake or error in any of the monies received, hence there was no need for any corrections to be made by the then Commissioner General.
He said the state was putting a case that was not clear but rather relied on mere speculations.
He submitted that it was not correct to say that expenditure for which 8 vehicles that were purchased did not received board approval, arguing that when budget are prepared it is presented to the board first before submitting it to the Ministry of Finance.
“So, for the state to claim that these expenditures were not approved, I doubt such. The state is also claiming that those expenditures were not budgeted for in 2017. The expenditures were rolled over to 2017 because the preparation was budgeted in 2016 but because of late budget disbursement, activities could not be done in 2016,” he argued.
State Counsel, Robert Kowa responded that the state will rely on the factual evidence that is in front of the tribunal and also what is stated in the payroll voucher.
He said it is the position of the law that all disbursement of public funds must be properly vouched for.
“The written script remains and it is on record that the witness that testified here was the Internal Auditor and he is in better position to determine the status of the payment made. There is no court evidence controverting as to what is before the tribunal. We are relying on the same document that has been presented as evidence to this tribunal,” he said.
He stated that according to the Public Financial Management Regulations, it was the responsibility of the then Commissioner General (Madam Kamara) that the personal emolument records are maintained for all employees correctly, and that all changes, increases or deduction must be stated to the Auditor General.
He further stated that she was in a position to correct all the errors, but failed to do so and allowed them to publish it.
Hearing on the same issue continues.