February 13, 2020
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has refused to effect payment of school fees refund to the former Financial Attaché at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington, United states, despite series of correspondences from the Accountant General Department, Human Resource Management Office and the Office of the Ombudsman.
The victim in question, Paul M.E. Kamara, now retired, served Sierra Leone for (40) years as a dedicated civil servant.
While serving as Financial Attaché in the United States between June, 2011-September,2018, according to correspondence, Kamara received from the Embassy the sum of twenty-two thousand, four hundred and thirty-three United States Dollars as loan to enable him meet deadline for payment of school fees for his child, which was to be replaced later by the Government of Sierra Leone as an entitlement to the latter.
In his letter to the Anti-Corruption Commission dated 16th September, 2019, Kamara stated that: “The amount in question was provided as an immediate remedial effort to meet the deadline for payment as government support was not immediately available and was recovered in full from my monthly salary, with understanding that when approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time, refunds will be made thereto.”
It is provided for under Rule 9.23 of the Sierra Leone Civil Service Code, Regulations and Rules for the Foreign Service that: “Government shall be responsible for the payment of school fees for dependent children attending school at the Mission up to age 18.”
“I have been deprived of this payment, my genuine entitlement, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC) for far too long for blowing the whistle and raising the red flag for practices considered as indecorous to our Financial Management Regulations, which are also in conflict with my professional conduct and ethics.”
Meanwhile, the Accountant Generals Department had in a letter dated 11th April,2019,directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to effect payment of school fees refunds to Kamara.
“This is to inform you that Mr.Paul Kamara is entitled to a school fees refund for the period he was Financial Attaché at the Sierra Leone’s Embassy in Washington as far as it is evidenced that he had a dependent school going child in the Mission under the age of 18 then,” states the letter from the Accountant Generals Department.
In their reply, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Director General, requested that the Accountant Generals Department to provide them with documents including evidence of the Head of Chancery’s involvement in the selection of school for the dependent of Paul Kamara and the approval of the Director General of Foreign Affairs.
Office of the Ombudsman had also intervened and asked that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refund Kamara’s entitlement, but the ministry refused on the grounds that Kamara was never a staff of the ministry.