Sierra Leone: Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) team observed that some domestic arrears totalling Le26 billion (Le26,326,787,832) were paid in 2019, and these payments have not been deducted from the outstanding debts reported in the draft debt clearance strategy.
They further observed that according to the strategy, payment of these arrears were scheduled to commence in 2020.
In the Ministry of Finance’s official response, the Deputy Financial Secretary for Administration through the Director of Public Debt stated that the strategy was purely a draft and is yet to be approved by Cabinet.
“Some of the contracts were however ongoing and suppliers/contractors demanded payments to enable them proceed on current supplies. Additionally, contractors and suppliers received payments which were duly due them for which the Ministry had an obligation to pay as and when resources were available.”
Even though he noted the Audit Service recommendation that the debt strategy will be updated with new information as and when domestic arrears is being crystalised. The Ministry failed to submit to the Auditors the updated debt strategy. “Therefore, the issue remains unresolved.”
A further look into the ministry, the team also observed that top-up allowances totalling Le5.8 billion (Le5,800,942,585) were paid to staff in grades 2 to 7 without regulation or authorisation justifying such payments.
“We therefore recommend that such payments are discontinued and the said funds should be disallowed and surcharged” the Auditors said.
The Deputy Financial Secretary, Administration stated that approval for the payment of responsibility allowance and top-ups to the respective staff were now available for audit verification.
However, evidence was submitted to justify that an internal auditor in grade 7 should be given top-up allowances. The regulation or authorisation was however not available to support outstanding top-up allowances which totalled Le3.1 billion (Le3,131,181,683). “Therefore, the issue remains partly resolved.”
By [email protected]