Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In the fiscal year 2022, the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) came under scrutiny for disbursing SLE10,000 as sitting fees to statutory Board members, a move criticized by the Audit Service Sierra Leone as inconsistent with the provisions of its Act.
According to auditors, the Board Sitting Fees deviate from the norm observed in other Public Enterprises and violate the SLMA Act of 2000, which stipulates that such remuneration or allowances should be determined by Parliament with the approval of the Minister. The auditors reported that the average sitting fees in other Public Enterprises ranged from SLE750 to SLE2,500, rendering SLMA’s payment of SLE10,000 as “unrealistic.”
During the reviewed period, four statutory Board Members collectively received SLE723,685, prompting the Auditor General to recommend that the former Acting Executive Director and the Director of Finance submit justifications for the payment of seemingly unrealistic sitting fees to statutory members. The Administration pledged to act accordingly based on the Auditor General’s recommendations.
However, audit verification revealed a lack of evidence justifying the sitting fees submitted to Board members, and no indication that the sitting fees had been revised in alignment with other public enterprises.
In addition, auditors observed that the terms of the Non-Statutory Board Members had expired. The SLMA Act specifies that these members shall hold office for a term not exceeding three years, renewable as necessary, as stipulated in their letters of appointment. As of the report’s writing, the terms of three non-statutory Board members had lapsed since 2021, with no renewal in sight.
The Board, consisting of eight members (four statutory and four non-statutory), faced further criticism as the Administration’s response indicated communication with the Ministry of Transport and Aviation regarding the expired terms. However, no evidence of such communication was submitted for audit verification, leaving both the sitting fees issue and the non-renewal of non-statutory Board members’ terms unresolved, according to the Auditor General. ZIJ/24/1/2024