Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Alarming findings from the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) reveal that the Ministry of Defence exceeded its approved budget by SLE119 million in 2022, raising serious accountability concerns.
According to the ASSL report, the Ministry’s actual expenditure surpassed its budgeted amount of SLE103 million (SLE103,857,705.12) by a significant margin, reaching a total expenditure of SLE223,078,137.98. The auditors noted material variances between the approved budgets and actual expenditures for 17 budget lines, highlighting a lack of adherence to financial planning.
The ASSL recommended that the Assistant Director of Budget provide justifications for the budget overruns and emphasized the need for future budgets to be realistic, considering all divisional activities while discouraging the practice of undertaking activities not provided for in the budget.
Surprisingly, the ASSL received no official response or evidence indicating that the Ministry addressed this financial oversight. The issues raised by the auditors remain unresolved.
Further scrutiny of the Ministry’s activities exposed a breach of Section 13(1) of the Public Financial Management Act of 2016, which mandates the vote controller of a budgetary agency to ensure prudent, effective, efficient, and transparent resource utilization. In 2022, the Ministry failed to submit a logbook and relevant documents accounting for fuel allegedly issued to standby generators, totalling SLE19,515, for audit inspection.
In response to this, the auditors recommended that the Acting Assistant Director of Human Resources take immediate action to account for the fuel or recover the amount, directing it to the Consolidated Fund. Similar to the previous financial query, there was no official response or evidence demonstrating that the Ministry addressed this finding, leaving these issues unresolved.
This revelation underscores the importance of fiscal responsibility and transparent financial management within government agencies to ensure taxpayer funds are utilized efficiently and in line with approved budgets. ZIJ/7/2/2024