March 10, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura
All People’s Congress Member of Parliament for Constituency 93 in Goderich, in the Western Rural, Hon. Amadu Joe Benson Kallon, last Friday appeared before the Public Account Committee to clarify how he expended funds given to him for Ebola sensitisation on 22nd August, 2014.
According to the report on the audit of the management of Ebola funds, the ruling party lawmaker was given “…an additional amount of Le110,640,000…on 22nd August 2014, in respect of daily subsistence allowance (DSA) and fuel to facilitate the same community sensitisation in Goderich area”, although all MPs had been given Le63 million “for constituency sensitisation on the Ebola outbreak”.
But Hon. Kallon told the hearing he received Le110m on 23rd August, 2014 to embark on 28 days community sensitisation, prior to receiving another Le63m for the same purpose. He said the money was remitted to him following protests by Lakkah residents against the construction of a treatment center in their community without being informed, and that sacked Minister of Health, Miatta Kargbo, sanctioned the payment.
He said they undertook specific activities in the community, and used the money to procure six megaphones, hire 21 motorbikes for 15 days, 50 vehicles for 15 days, plus an unspecified gallons of fuel for all the vehicles, with each vehicle allocated Le250,000 per day.
He explained that he received a call on 8 January, 2014 from the Ministry of Health to submit his expenditure analysis, and did so on Monday, 12 January at the finance department of the ministry.
However, Deputy Auditor General, Tamba Momoh, insisted Le110,640,000 was the amount disbursed to the lawmaker to facilitate community sensitisation in the Goderich area, despite being given an additional Le63 for a similar activity.
He said retirement detail for the said amount was not submitted for audit inspection, noting that the dual disbursement posed a risk of duplication of effort for the same activity within the same constituency, which could lead to misuse of much needed funds as the additional amount could have been utilised to combat the virus in other affected areas.
On her part, the sacked former Minister of Health, Ms. Miatta Kargbo, said the initial Le110,640,000 was remitted based on recommendation by stakeholders of the community, MSF, WHO, and the CDC.
It remains to be seen whether the committee will invite those representatives for questioning.