February 10, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
Audit Service Sierra Leone will at the end of this month present a report of its findings on the utilisation of Ebola funds to Parliament, according to Deputy Auditor General, Tamba Momoh.
Mr. Momoh told our reporter he hoped anyone found guilty of misappropriating funds meant for the Ebola outbreak would face the full force of the law.
He disclosed the special audit report on how Ebola funds have been expended was necessitated by intense pressure from the public following allegations of corruption in the handling of Ebola funds by state and non-state actors across the country.
“We have long been involved in auditing funds meant for Ebola fight even before the pressure from the public to do so. We have constitutional mandate to carry out auditing on all financial transaction of the government,” he said. “I can assure you that by the end of this month the report will be sent to Parliament.”
He explained that even though the report focuses on how Ebola funds have been utilised by government officials, local and international organizations, the focus was more on the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC), which has been struggling to cope with the challenge of handling the payment of hazard allowances for Ebola frontline workers.
He added that despite allegations of probable corruption in the handling of Ebola funds, the leadership of NERC has always dismissed suggestion of any financial malpractice.
Billions of Leones have poured into the country during almost nine months of the worst Ebola outbreak in history, but as the virus is being chased out, public opinion is that some of the money may have been mismanaged, prompting calls for investigation.
The anti-graft body had been drafted to lead investigations into possible corrupt practices with respect to the use of Ebola funds, with calls for the kingpins to be prosecuted not just few low level officials.
Last year, private audit firm, KPMG, inexplicably withdrew from monitoring Ebola funds donated to government; no official reasons have been given for the withdrawal.