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As Parliament ends Ebola Audit Report hearings…

Deputy Speaker warns MDAs against procurement irregularities

March 25, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura

Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament has issued a warning to officials at ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that although the committee has completed its investigation in the management of Ebola funds, they would not tolerate procurement defaulters.

“I want to assure the public that we will soon table the final report on our investigation to the whole House for debate as Parliament authorised us to carry out investigations on defaulters mentioned in the Ebola report with the help of the technical support given by the audit team and that of the committee clerks, and we hope that the financial report will not have emergency excuses as we will not accept it,” he said.

Hon. Chernoh Maju Bah questioned whether procurement irregularities in MDAs could be as a result of the transfer of Permanent Secretaries and accountants to other ministries, although he vowed they would “not tolerate that as it has to be the responsibility of the official that used to be in that office during the shortfalls at the time of auditing. The people of this country are tired of these excuses. Politicians are not vote controllers but the blames are being put on us and this is not good.”

“The investigation is not yet over as we will continue it in camera and if we are yet to be satisfied, we will call up those responsible,” he said in Parliament on Monday.

Hon. Bah said the committee would continue looking into other audit reports due for investigation, including the agriculture mechanism report and financial annual auditing report.

He opined that two-thirds of all audit reports tabled in Parliament are saddled with procurement irregularities, and suggested the National Public Procurement Authority should be involved in the activities of the committee to sensitise on procurement laws that govern MDAs.

The Public Accounts Committee, on 25 February, started investigating individuals mentioned in a real time audit report of the management of Ebola funds, which indicated that billions of Leones had been misappropriated by officials in both private and public institutions while carrying out emergency operations to contain the deadly virus. There was a huge backlash that preceded the publication of the report by the Audit Service Sierra Leone on 7 February.

It now remains to be seen whether the anti-graft commission will go ahead and indict some of those mentioned in the report to having failed to produce receipts for transactions they had undertaken between May and October of last year.