Section 13 (1) of the Public Financial Management Act of 2016 stipulates that the vote controller of a budgetary agency shall be responsible for prudent, effective, efficient and transparent use of the resources of the budgetary agency.
But at the Ministry of Water Resources fuel chits or utilisation records were not submitted to Auditors from Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) to account for fuel amounting to Le439.7 million (Le439,712,000).
According to the 2017 – 2018 Report of the Auditor General, this requirement was not met by the Ministry as there were inadequate controls over the management of fuel allocated.
During the period under review (2017 – 2018), the Ministry issued 2,472 litres of fuel amounting to Le15.5 million (Le15,552,000) to vehicles that were faulty and not roadworthy and 5,475 litres of fuel amounting to Le12.5 million (Le12,480,000) issued to generator without a logbook.
The Permanent Secretary’s official response was that at the time the audit exercise was conducted, most of the officers responsible for fuel management were not on post. “However, management has made frantic efforts to contact them and retrieve all the documents requested which are now available for review.”
At the end of the audit, the Auditor General’s final comment indicated that there were no satisfactory explanations or supporting evidence to account for fuel alleged to have been issued to faulty vehicles. A logbook for the generator was not provided to ascertain the utilisation of fuel. “Therefore, the issues are unresolved.”
The Ministry was also faulted for poor assets management. A fixed assets register was not submitted. Out of a total of seven vehicles and 15 motor bikes assigned to staff of the Ministry, only four vehicles and eight bikes were available for physical verification leaving three vehicles and seven bikes not presented for verification.
The list of vehicles and motor bikes submitted to the auditors proved that four of the vehicles have been faulty since 2017. Similarly, two of the motor bikes were assigned to Mohamed Bah who is the M&E Officer and the other five motor bikes were assigned to other staff.
The Permanent Secretary stated that all the motor vehicles and bikes in question have been traced and are available for physical verification. “The Ministry is ready to support a joint physical verification exercise by the audit team and our Transport Officer.”
Also, the Ministry has developed an Asset management policy and is available for review.
During the verification by the Auditors the outstanding three vehicles and seven bikes were not made available for verification. But, however, a draft fixed assets register was submitted for their review. “The issue is partly resolved.”