May 26, 2015 By Alusine Sesay
Following the release of the ‘real time’ Ebola Funds Management Audit Report which raised a shadow of cloud over the Office of the President for not accounting for millions of United States dollars, sources within State House have told Concord Times that strict procurement measures have been put in place to prevent further financial leakages.
The Audit Report on the management of Ebola funds unraveled gross abuse of office involving the misappropriation of more than US$18 million (Le84 billion) by government officials since the outbreak of the virus in May 2014 to October 2014.
State House itself and the Office of the First Lady were urged to account for over US$5 million donated directly into their coffers.
“Previously, there was some flexibility with regards procurement. We are now finding it difficult to even buy water or stationery for office use because you have to produce receipt for every penny you spend,” said the source who wanted to remain anonymous.
He said staff at State House were faced with extreme difficulty to keep their office running because access to funds was now bugged by dogged bureaucracy.
The Audit Report also mentioned ministries, departments, agencies and individuals for their alleged failure to account for funds meant to fight the Ebola Virus Disease.
The Ministry of Health is to account for US$2.8 million from the Health Emergency Response Account for expenditures made without any supporting documents or explanation, says the report. The ministry also needs to account for US$2.3 million for payments from the Ebola Emergency Miscellaneous accounts for which there are missing supporting documents, the report adds.
The report also indicates that the Health Ministry should account for US$4.1 million for payments that were supposedly made to Ebola workers and volunteers for which there are no claim sheets and paid-up vouchers.
The Makeni Government Hospital was also indicted of receiving payments for 271 ghost workers in the amount of US$43,360, while Connaught Hospital received US$50,440 as incentives to unauthorized healthcare workers, for which there were no receipts.
A renowned civil society activist, Charles Mambu, was named by the report to have received a loan of one hundred and sixty million Leones on behalf of his organization, which was deposited in his personal account.
The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament conducted further investigation into the scandal, and did order Mr. Mambu to pay back the ‘loan’, but it is yet unclear whether he has adhered to the order.
Also, observers have been wondering why Parliament did not summon the Office of the President and that of the First Lady to answer to queries raised in the Ebola Audit Report.
Meanwhile, report of the Public Accounts Committee is still outstanding, although it had concluded its investigations a couple of weeks ago.