January 20, 2015 By Jariatu Bangura
The recently published Auditor General’s Report 2013 raised the red flag against financial management practices auditors deemed irregular at the National Revenue Authority (NRA).
According to the report, which has since been tabled in Parliament for deliberation, auditors concluded that there was no regular reconciliation in cash books maintained by Finance Officers at NRA for monies collected from various revenue departments and transit banks on the one hand, and between NRA and the Bank of Sierra Leone on the other hand.
The report further states that although Treasury Transit accounts should be used by the NRA to collect monies on behalf government, monies from the said accounts were not transferred to the Consolidated Revenue Fund at close of business on 31st December, 2013.
“Consequently, government domestic revenue for the year ended 31st December, 2013 as presented in the Public Accounts, did not include all monies collected. There was also no process by which amount assessed by revenue collecting MDAs was compared to the revenue collected by NRA,” the report stated and added that auditors were unable to estimate the potential misstatement due to uncertainties surrounding the amount disclosed in the accounts and those recorded in the yearly reconciliation and bank confirmations.
Also, the report notes that tax collection, sound accounting practices and internal control of government revenue are critical to public services being properly funded, while current weak control environment could present a significant risk that monies due to government are not being collected or that monies collected are not being properly accounted for.
Meanwhile, as public debate intensifies over revelations in the audit report and the fact that recommendations proffered in previous reports have largely being ignored, questions have been asked about the role of Parliament and the anti-graft agency in ensuring that some, if not all, of the recommendations are implemented and those who may be culpable for misusing public funds are prosecuted.