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Sierra Leone
Friday, May 20, 2022
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Misappropriation of public funds! Le82bn missing

- Auditor-General’s report reveals

By Jariatu Bangura

Lara Taylor-Pearce
GOOD JOB … Auditor-General, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce

The Auditor-General of Audit Service Sierra Leone, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce, has revealed that there have been cash losses to the public purse of an estimated amount of eighty-billion, one hundred and forty-six million, five hundred and seventy-five thousand, six hundred and ninety-six Leones (Le82,146,575,696), noting that in the previous years, such mishaps occurred for a number of reasons with some inter-related.

The Auditor-General strongly suggested that public financial management has much room for improvement in all ministries, department and agencies (MDAs), and that monthly bank reconciliations were not being carried out in most MDAs.

“There is a fundamental failure of internal control over cash and banking procedures and such control should be undertaken by persons with no access to the physical cash or bank statements,” she recommended.

There were significant weaknesses in the management of revenue in most, if not all, of the revenue generating entities as transferring funds to the National Revenue Authority (NRA) was subjected to unnecessary delay, she further pointed out that, adding that there were many cases where withholding taxes were not deducted from suppliers or contractors.

She observed that “a perennial problem of payments without adequate supporting documents like invoice, receipts, delivery notes persist in almost all the MDAs”.

Mrs. Taylor-Pearce noted that significant lapses were observed in procurement procedures, resulting in incomplete transactions, hence unsatisfactory service delivery as monies intended to be managed by imprest accounts were not properly closed out or accounted for. Controls over imprest accounts, she said, were weak while allocating expenditure accurately to ledger accounts was seriously impaired.

She said fixed assets and stored records were not adequately recorded in the applicable registers or other records.

“We frequently requested documents but were not made available to auditors for review although this has improved over previous years,” commented the Auditor-General. “The extent at which our recommendations for improvement in controls remain unimplemented is not acceptable, and many entities have failed to make adequate responses to our findings.”

She maintained that their findings did not inspire confidence that resources were being managed optimally with due regard for economic efficiency and effectiveness or fully in accordance with the intent of Parliament.

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