By Samuel J. Kargbo & Jariatu Bangura
The maiden hearing on the Audit Report of 2012 by the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament had to be postponed yesterday because of no show by key officials of the Auditor-General’s Office and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED).
The conspicuous absence of Auditor-General of Audit Service Sierra Leone, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce, Financial Secretary, Edmond Koroma and Director of Public Debt, Sahr Jusu, both of MoFED , left a bitter taste in the mouth of members of the Parliamentary Committee. The lawmakers insisted that the three absentee officials should be present before they commence sittings on the said Audit Report, which highlights gross mismanagement of public funds by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
Ruling party lawmaker, Hon. Hassan Sheriff, moved a motion that the presence of the Auditor-General was highly needed at the sitting, especially at the first sitting, as certain clarifications might be required from her, being principal author of the Report. He thus moved that the sitting be postponed until the Auditor-General was in attendance.
Hon. Francis Konuwa, representing the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), also raised similar concern about the absence of the Auditor General and the Commissioner of the National Revenue Authority, both of whom he said should be summon to attend the next sitting. He said lawmakers would not countenance unreasonable excuses from vote controllers in ministries, departments and agencies this time around, as reason for their absence at hearings.
Meanwhile, deputy chairman of the Committee, Hon. Eric Koedoyoma of the SLPP, warned MDAs to put their document in correct order ahead of sittings, if they do not want to elicit anger from members of the Committee. He said the Accountant-General should be present in all subsequent sittings because during previous sittings of the Committee, many MDAs blamed their shortcomings on the Accountant General’s Department, including allegations that they had paid refunds to the latter or that they have not receive any allocations from MoFED.