The Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) has engaged stakeholders in Makeni on the audit of the Bombali District Council for the Fiscal Year 2021. The meeting was held at the conference Hall of the Bombali District Council on Friday 1st April, 2022. The meeting was well attended by cross section of paramount chiefs, councilors, youth representatives, civil society activists and the media.
The Communications Officer of the ASSL, Martin Sandy stated that the citizens’ engagement is a new approach that the ASSL is using to involve the citizens in the work of the ASSL. He pointed out that similar engagements have been done in Kenema and Bo. Pointing out the mandate of the ASSL, he noted that section 119(2) of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone empowers the Auditor-General to audit the public accounts of Sierra Leone and all public offices established by an Act of Parliament or statutory instrument. Mr. Sandy also spoke on the submission of the annual report to Parliament within twelve months of the end of the immediately preceding financial year, stressing that 2021 audit report will be submitted by the 31st December, 2022. He also spoke about the Audit Service Act of 2014 and the Public Financial Management Act of 2016 which complement the powers of the Auditor-General.
Mohamed Juldeh Barrie,Assistant Auditor General and Head of the ASSL Northern Region informed the stakeholders that all councils and public enterprises are supposed to submit their financial statements to the ASSL before 31st March and proudly informed the stakeholders that the Bombali District Council has already submitted theirs. He stressed that the council will be audited to add value to its work in the interest of Bombali district. He informed the stakeholders that the ASSL wants to get input from the stakeholders as to how they can plan the audit in a manner that will ensure that the responsibility given to the council to manage the affairs of the community is being discharged adequately. Mr. Barrie stressed the need for collaboration among the councils and the citizens in a bid to bring development to the community.
Moses Khalu, Senior Auditor explained to the stakeholders about the Audit Process stating that the audit process starts at the office where the auditors plan together on areas to cover during the audit. Mr. Khalu also explained that before an audit is done, an engagement letter is sent to the client giving information about the audit and time of commencement. He said that the clients are always part of the audit process because every query in the audit is brought to their attention for clarification. He concluded that after the audit, a draft is sent to the client, giving them 15 days to respond after which a final report will be done and sent to parliament.
Paramount Chief Massayeli Tham III of Gbanti Chiefdom expressed thanks to the Audit team stating that this is something they have been agitating for. He pointed out that most of the revenues that the chiefdoms use to collect were devolved to other entities. He however asked whether the chiefdom clerks will be audited, stressing on the need for capacity building to be extended to them.
Concerns were also raised on the challenges faced by the district councils as there seems to be confusion on the boundary delimitation between the city and district council on areas of revenue mobilization. Lots of contributions were made by key stakeholders on the audit of Bombali district council.