Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – The Ministry of Health and Sanitation faces scrutiny as it failed to submit expenditure returns totalling SLE2.8 million for overseas training of its staff in 2022, as revealed by the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL).
Despite previous recommendations from ASSL and the stipulations outlined in Section 100(1) of the PFMRs of 2018, the Ministry continued to pay for overseas training without providing necessary expenditure returns to validate these payments.
In the fiscal year 2022, an amount of SLE3.9 million (SLE3,880,592) was expended on overseas training for medical personnel. However, auditors noted the absence of essential supporting documents, such as requests and approvals of sponsorships, as well as invoices and receipts for fees paid during the overseas training.
Upon recommendation from the auditors, the Director of Financial Resources was urged to ensure that expenditure returns are obtained from all beneficiaries. However, only SLE1,076,719, representing 28% of the queried amount, was provided and verified. This leaves a substantial balance of SLE2,803,873 unaccounted for.
In response to the audit query, the Ministry claimed that the Request and Approval of sponsorships were effectively attached to payment vouchers in the FreeBalance system. Additionally, receipts for fees and air tickets were submitted by four medical doctors, and efforts were underway to contact the remaining doctors for the same.
Despite these assurances, the issue remains unresolved, as only 28% of the queried amount has been verified, raising concerns about the transparency and accountability of the Ministry’s expenditure on overseas training. The public awaits further clarification and action on this matter. ZIJ/28/12/2023