Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a concerning turn of events, the Ministry of Lands Housing and Country Planning has come under scrutiny during the 2022 audit, as the Principal Accountant failed to produce crucial documents related to the lease and sale of state lands.
The audit revealed that citizenship records for 400 files, along with National Revenue Authority (NRA) receipts and application forms, were not submitted, violating Section 36(1) of the Audit Service Act of 2014. The Auditor-General recommended that the Permanent Secretary ensures the Principal Accountant promptly submits these documents for audit. Failure to comply may result in sanctions outlined in Section 36(1) of the Audit Service Act.
Furthermore, the audit verification process raised concerns as the Auditors were not provided with management’s response or evidence of the submission of revenue documents. It was discovered that revenue from land lease rental and the sale of land (freehold), totalling SLE461,100 and US$50,000, had not been deposited into the Consolidated Fund, in direct contradiction to Section 44(1) of the PFMRs of 2018.
The recommendation emphasized that the Principal Accountant and NRA Revenue Collectors must provide evidence of payment into the Consolidated Fund. Failure to do so would require the immediate payment of the outstanding amounts.
Additionally, a lack of reconciliation between the Ministry’s Records Unit and the NRA for the audit period led to discrepancies in cashbook balances. Notably, the NRA cashbook balances exceeded those of the Ministry by SLE689,277 for October and November. Conversely, Ministry cashbook balances were greater than the NRA’s by SLE12,030,169.5 for January to September and December 2022.
In light of these discrepancies, the Principal Accountant and NRA Revenue Collectors have been strongly recommended to conduct a thorough reconciliation between the NRA and the Ministry, addressing all identified discrepancies. This call for accountability underscores the importance of transparent financial practices within government agencies. ZIJ/7/2/2024