…BAN demands ACC probe
March 13, 2017 By Mohamed Massaquoi
The Budget Advocacy Network (BAN) has called on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to institute an investigation into what they referred to as ‘unrecovered money’ from the past reports by Audit Sierra Leone – 2011 to 2014 – specifically on the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security.
The network claims that a total sum of Le 11.09 billion and 3,473 bushels of rice were unaccounted for by officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), noting that the said amount could be used to pay salaries for over 600 workers in the ministry for a whole year as well as procure enough fertilisers for farmers.
BAN is a network of civil society organisations in Sierra Leone committed to work on budgets and budget policies, to enhance policy formulation and implementation for sustainable development.
The BAN report highlights issues such as the sale of bidding document which was not brought to account, seed rice issued by horticulture to farmers not recovered, seed rice purchased by the seed multiplication project without any evidence of distribution, non-recovery of loan to the former procurement officer in the ministry, and no supporting documents for a withdrawal from the hire purchase account totaling Le Le3,328,457,000.
BAN also discovered from the 2013 Audit Service report that unrecovered money, including assessment fees for timber, were not available, payment without supporting documents, and withholding tax not deduced and paid to the National Revenue Authority, NRA.
“In Kambia, revenue for forestry not banked and accounted for, payment for tractors loan not recovered. In Konadugu, sales of fertilizer not brought to account, motor bike procured but not seen for verification,” the report stated and urged ACC to investigate the agriculture ministry for the said allegations.
It could be recalled that the 2011 to 2013 Audit Service Report clearly stated that the National Public Procurement Authority in a correspondence dated 5th February, 2010 recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture should use national shopping method for the procurement of agricultural inputs.
The report also recommended that the sum of Le21,200,000 (twenty-one billion two hundred million Leones) from the sale of bidding documents should be refunded by the procurement officer, with evidence of payment into the Consolidated Revenue Fund forwarded to Audit Service Sierra Leone for verification.
In addition, the Permanent Secretary was urged to ensure that the contingency amount of Le221,413, 008 must only be paid to contractors after a written request and certification by the Consulting Engineer.
Furthermore, it was recommended that the Procurement Officer should submit the letter of approval from National Public Procurement Authority for the use of sole sourcing in procuring agricultural inputs.
However, BAN claims that most of those procedures were not adhered to.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether the ACC will pick the cue from the BAN report and, as recommended, commence investigation into the mindboggling corruption allegedly unearthed in the said ministry spanning just four years.