October 26, 2020
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) employs prevention as a strategic tool to curb corruption, especially in public sector institutions, through the dissemination of relevant education and information and customized meetings, among several methods.
In this respect the Commission’s office in Kono, on 22nd October 2020, held a fruitful customized meeting with the management and staff of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) in Koidu City, Kono district.
ACC’s Public Education Officer, Edward Blake, while making his contribution thanked the management of the Authority for hosting the Commission, stressing that the engagement was not spurred by any intelligence about supposed corruption.
The meeting, according to Mr Blake, was instead arranged to enhance the profile of the government’s major tax collector to withstand corruption to induce quality performance in the interest of the people of the country.
The thrust of the anti-corruption message, which was given by Public Education Officer Aiah Sourie, underscored the grim effects of corruption on the capacity of the Authority to achieve its deliverables, the importance of resisting, rejecting and reporting corruption, and the need for a more reactive and proactive inter-sectoral partnership and collaboration to deal corruption a fatal or diminishing blow for the common good.
Mr Sourie, while making what seemed a plea, drew the attention of the tax Authority staff to government’s focus on delivering on its mandates. To get the job done, he emphasized, government needs huge funds.
‘It therefore behooves the NRA, being the government’s chief revenue collector, to ward off corruption to mobilize as much funds as possible. Remember that if the Authority becomes unable to raise funds on account of corruption, government may starve to ineffectiveness,’ he said.
After having updated the staff on the activities and recent achievements of the Commission, he encouraged the management particularly to lead in revamping the Integrity Management Committee as a relevant mechanism in combating corruption within the Authority.
Mr Sourie added that integrity should be the core value that all public officials – all Sierra Leoneans – should uphold as a sign of true patriotism. As, he said, this ‘fulfils the call ‘put her interest above all else’ in our National Pledge.’
Speaking on penalties in a situation where alleged corruption has been proven as an offence by law, Social Safety Net District Monitor, Patrick Hinga George, who was also in the visiting ACC team, said the Commission had amended its 2008 Act in an attempt to make corruption an expensive and dangerous venture. Mr. George explained that although the engagement with the tax-collecting Authority had a prevention purpose, there was need to point out lawful penalties under conviction.
As given in the Anti-Corruption Amended Act of 2019, anyone who has been convicted of corruption shall be fined at least Le 50,000,000 on one count or an imprisonment term of at least 5 years, or both. In addition, the court shall order a convict to pay the full amount of money misappropriated into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
In response to the anti-corruption message, the district Manager of the National Revenue Authority, Ansumana Bockarie, praised the Commission for its recent success in recovering over Le 2bn of missing public funds and strategies in preventing corruption in public institutions. He urged his colleagues to follow due diligence as they serve the public, while assuring the ACC office in Kono of the Authority’s readiness to fight against corruption.
The session was interactive as the participants asked questions and made comments.