By Alfred Koroma
A report recently published by Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) has revealed that government failed to adequately implement much of the recommendations given by Audit Service Sierra Leone for the period 2015-2020.
According to IGR, a total of 2,655 audit recommendations were produced by the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and local councils for the six-year period
covered. But only 38% of the said recommendations were implemented, 18% partly implemented, and 44% not implemented.
The report says the low uptake (38%) of audit recommendations by MDAs and local councils severely undermines public financial management, adding that state institutions are weak in enforcing compliance.
Parliament approved a total amount of Le23.84 trillion (approximately USD 2.4 Billion) for all MDAs and local councils in the six years reviewed. But IGR study finds poor cash management and internal controls, inappropriate public procurement practices and mismanagement; poor administrative and financial recordkeeping, poor management of assets, poor oversight by Parliamentary oversight committees as the reoccurring issues appearing in all recommendations reviewed.
The report pointed at Ministries of Transport and Aviation, Foreign Affairs, Public Works and Assets; and Sports as the most compliant ministries in implementing audit recommendations with Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MBSSE) being the least compliant.
Although MBSSE did well in implementing its 2020 audit recommendations, the Ministry did not implement any of the recommendations stated in the 2017 Auditor General’s Report, contributing to a huge backlog of unimplemented recommendations, the report says.
IGR identifies Bonthe, Kailahun, Falaba, Kono, and Kenema Districts Councils as the local councils that complied more with the Audit recommendations of the years reviewed.
IGR is a think tank civil society organization that works in partnership with multiple organizations to provide technical assistances for capacity building and sustainable development in public and private institutions. The organization has conducted a wide range of studies relating to governance issues.
Among its recommendations, IGR recommends that government, CSOs and partners institutionalize the tracking of audit compliance by developing a digital tracker for all MDAs to assess their progress in addressing audit recommendations.
The report further recommends that government take punitive action against public officials who fail to implement audit recommendations, and recognize those who comply with the recommendations by awarding them.
Government’s audit should consider conducting quarterly stringent internal audits for all MDAs and local councils to help enforce adherence to sound public financial management practices
and minimize defaults, the report says.