Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – An audit conducted by the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) on the contract agreement between the Gento Group of Companies and the Sierra Leone Road Authority has revealed notable discrepancies in the payment process, marking a significant finding in the audit of the General Purpose Financial Statements of the Government of Sierra Leone for the year 2022.
Upon scrutinizing the contract agreement and a signed Memorandum of Understanding valued at US$42,782,727, auditors identified that payments totalling US$39,676,314 had been made to the contractor, resulting in a remaining balance of US$3,106,413.
The Auditors brought attention to letters from the Assistant Director–Fiscal Risk Management Division (FRMD) and the Chief Executive Officer of Gento Group, indicating the issuance of an Interim Payment Certificate (IPC 1A) valued at US$5,459,499.26 (SLE 71,281,565) in 2018 due to delayed payment of IPC 1, as stipulated in clause 60.10 of the contract agreement. However, it was noted that the Road Maintenance Fund Administration had already processed payment for IPC 1 in 2016. The ASSL’s final verification report on domestic debt for 2018 confirmed no certified arrears (outstanding IPC) for this contract.
Additionally, Interim Payment Certificates (IPCs 5) amounting to US$13,524,419.34 were claimed for loss and damages due to the project’s suspension. The audit raised concerns, as there was no evidence of any instruction from the engineer to suspend the work in progress, contradicting Clause 40.1 of the contract agreement. The ASSL or the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Finance did not verify this claim, a standard practice for such claims. The total amount paid in 2022 was US$13,478,570, leaving an outstanding balance of US$45,849. ZIJ/15/1/2024