Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – The Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) has flagged a financial concern regarding cheques and electronic fund transfers amounting to SLE 60,669,322.10. These financial instruments were printed and issued in 2022, yet payments were not executed within the same fiscal year.
In their comprehensive audit review of the General Purpose Financial Statement (GPFS), the ASSL uncovered irregularities in the Other Charges bank statements. Specifically, certain transactions were noted to be reversed without proper documentation of their initial occurrence. The ASSL has promptly communicated these issues to the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) for further investigation and resolution.
A detailed examination of the Cash and Bank section of the GPFS unveiled that the total cash and bank balances at the conclusion of the fiscal year 2022 reflected a negative balance of SLE 965.8 million, as opposed to the negative SLE 344.0 million recorded at the end of FY2021. Furthermore, an overall cash deficit of SLE 621.7 million was documented in FY2022, contributing to the shift in cash balances from negative SLE 344.0 million in FY2021 to negative SLE 965.8 million at the close of FY2022.
The ASSL also highlighted key Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms implemented by the Government in 2022. These included the introduction of the New Leones (SLE) into the economy, and the installation and customization of the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) system, which interfaced with the upgraded version of the FreeBalance application. The reforms aimed at reducing transaction processing time, gradually phasing out cheque printing, revising the Chart of Accounts for Central Government, expanding it from 27 to 33 digits for compliance with GFS 2014, and the successful launch of the Electronic Fund Transfer system for selected payroll categories and local payments. ZIJ/15/1/2024