SSL in Le1bn scam
February 3, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Following its report on the 2015 Population and Housing Census claiming irregularities in the census recruitment that generated a lot of heated debates among various sections of the Sierra Leonean society, the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) has again indicted Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) for what they referred to as the “unjustified and unprecedented increases in management cost” by over Le1 billion per annum from 2011 to 2013.
IGR accused the SSL management of “deliberate misuse of state resources to have made such increments”.
A press release issued yesterday by IGR critiqued the 2015 census process, pointing to certain “flaws” which it said may affect the credibility of the data generated so far, and by extension, could potentially undermine the common development aspirations of the country.
“IGR welcomes the response by Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) to our report. We are however disappointed that rather than speak to the substantive issues, SSL resorted to evasiveness, diversions and rhetoric,” IGR noted in its release. “This failure of SSL to clarify its doubtful activities cited by the IGR report amounts to an admission of an increase in management cost by over Le1 billion per annum from 2011 to 2013. We also [demand] that occupants of positions who do not have SSL’s established benchmark qualifications should be replaced – Statistician General, Principal Statistician and Head of Demographic and Social Statistics Section, Director of Data Processing and Systems Analysis, Director of Economic Statistics, Principal Statistician, Economic Statistics, and Human Resource Manager.”
The group called on the SSL authorities to redo the cartographic map updating and pilot census since, according to them, “the process is in error by over 35% as stated by the Claudius J. Thomas SSL Council monitoring report”.
The release further accused SSL officials of knowingly flouting a key requirement for conducting a credible census as enshrined in the UN Handbook on Census Management by electing to allegedly recruit renowned partisan personnel to man the census in the districts; an act it said should be investigated and culprits brought to book.
“We call on government’s attention to and action on the four key issues highlighted above. Should we wish to conduct a national population census in the next 12 months and improve on the quality of our national data, [IGR] calls on the government and development partners to convene a special multi-stakeholder session to chart the way forward for the SSL and the census process,” the group urged. “Moreover, given the level of polarization in Sierra Leone, the government and stakeholders should ensure that no special interest group has monopoly over the collection and management of the country’s official national statistics.”
When contacted for his reaction to the IGR allegations, Public Relations Officer of SSL, Samuel Serry Jr., said he was out of the office and therefore could not respond to issues pertaining to the finances of the institution.
He therefore referred this reporter to the Finance Department of SSL, which he said can appropriately respond to the allegations.
However, Concord Times could not reach the Finance Department of SSL as we went to press.