RMFA to account for road construction equipment worth billions of Leones

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November 26, 2018

By Mohamed Massaquoi

The 2015 Audit report has revealed that the Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA), under the leadership of former Executive Director, Abdul Kalokoh, was to reclaim mechanical equipment worth billions of Leone that was purchased by BEGEC- TP Construction Company.

According to the report, RMFA from 2014-2015, lacked business continuity and disaster recovery plan, which is critical to the operations of the institution.

The report further cited payments amounting to Le1, 459,968,081 that was not refunded by the company after termination of contract.

It stated that the administration failed to disclose the amount as received in its financial statements and that the audit procedures revealed that a contract with Providian Group amounting to Le1,421,178,596, was terminated because the contractor abandoned the site and didn’t complete work.

The 2015 audit report cited payment made by the administration to Providian Group amounting to Le1, 049,401,229 and interim payment certificate to justify the contract amount paid was not submitted for audit review, but could not ascertain that the work done equalled the payment.

It was recommended by the report that  the Director of Finance and Investment should provide an explanation for the amounts omitted in the financial statements and make the necessary adjustments to reflect that in the account, and that steps should also be taken to ensure that those monies were recovered from the contractors.

It was noted that despite the administration did not have the mandate to give out loans to contractors, they went ahead and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FIMET/BETONVILA Limited for a loan of USD$2,000,000.

“Furthermore, an addendum was made to the MOU increasing the loan to USD$5,000,000. There has also not been any significant movement in the repayment of the loan as the outstanding amount as at 31st December 2015 was Le24, 350,505,000.”

The audit report recommended that the Chief Executive Officer should provide explanation as to why the administration acted outside its mandate and provide a repayment plan in respect of the said loan.

However, in an exclusive interview with Concord Times, RMFA Director of Finance,   Joe Thomas, explained that even though he was not in office at the time the memorandum of understanding was signed with the said company, there were records within the administration that clearly showed details of the agreement.

He said on the 2nd December, 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between RMFA, Sierra Leone Roads Authority, FIMET BETON VILLAL LTD, and that the contractors requested RMFA to make available an additional amount in the Leones equivalent Of USD3, 000, 000.00 to FIMET/BETON VILLA on the terms agreed in the MOU.

“In light of this, we wrote to request the Ministry of Finance confirmation that repayment of the total sum USD5, 000,000.00 or its Leone equivalent will be deducted from FIMET/BETON VALLIs account at the bank,” he stated.

“Prior to the termination of the contract, the contractor made it clear that part of the money was utilised for the procumbent of additional equipment. At the time of termination of the contract, and considering that the contractor was a Sierra Leonean, it was generally agreed that he would be allowed to keep the equipment which technically should belong to RMF. We also reached an agreement for payment of the differences of Le1.4 billion RMFA and Sierra Leone Roads Authority were to work towards engaging the contractor on smaller contract works from which deductions would have been made until the outstanding balance was eventually recouped. We were reliably informed by SLRA who are the contracting agents, that Providian Group had completed work up to the amount of Le1, 049,401,229.90 by the time the contract was terminated. We therefore did not and do not expect to recoup this amount from the contractor. Also, as we are not a party to any of these contracts, it was very difficult for RMFA to take any action against any contractor for losses incurred from contract termination without the support and concurrence of the contracting agency,” he said.

Asked about the equipment, Thomas said they neither follow up nor collect the equipment from the construction company as was agreed.

Meanwhile, Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) Samuel   S Gibao, has assured journalists and members of the Budget Advocacy Network (BAN) of his organisation’s commitment in investigating outstanding payments from Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) as clearly stated in the Sierra Leone Audit Service Report 2015.

Samuel   S Gibao said NRA was interested in working with any organisation that was determined to strengthen the revenue base of the country and that civil society and the media must play a role in ensuring that recommendations from Audit Service Sierra Leone were fully implemented.

“As a revenue mobilisation institution, we are willing and ready to working with you for a better Sierra Leone,” he assured.

BAN in collaboration with some journalists, with support from Christian Aid formed partnership in order to follow -up with government institutions regarding compliance with the Audit Report.