Sanction irregularities identified by COVID-19 audit exercise –Finance Ministry
Sierra Leone, Freetown: The Ministry of Finance has informed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that they have taken actions to sanction the irregularities and address the weaknesses in legal, fiduciary, procurement, and HR management identified by the audit exercise.
They further welcomed the Audit Service of Sierra Leone’s (ASSL) real-time audit of the emergency response, its discussion of the report in Parliament, and its online publication in December 2020. On the legal side, regulations for the operation of the COVID fund were approved by parliament.
The Ministry said that they have set out clear Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and trained all the DICOVERCs on principles of financial management, modalities of paying advances, and bookkeeping.
“We also put in place an HR policy to ensure that each staff member has a signed contract, and weekly payments of risk allowances are verified and made through the banking system. A chart of accounts developed with the Accountant General facilitates the recording and reporting of transactions. A fiduciary agent has been appointed to support financial management” the Ministry said in their Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP).
In addition, they also committed to facilitating the ASSL final audit of the COVID-19 response and the publication of its report within 12 months of the end of the fiscal year, as required under the Public Financial Management Act 2016.
This they say is in line with Government’s flagship agenda to eradicate corruption and strengthen governance, and that is being executed by also publishing on the Ministry of Finance’s website detailed information on emergency spending in the form of NaCOVERC’s unaudited financial statements as of December 31, 2020 and as of March 31, 2021. Going forward, they commit to publishing NaCOVERC’s financial statements on a quarterly basis.
They have also begun reporting on the implementation of the broader response to support the economic recovery, including under the QAERP. In line with their regular fiscal reporting, they have published information on the implementation on the QAERP up to the fourth quarter of 2020 on the Ministry of Finance’s website. They will also continue this practice on reporting on the crisis response in 2021. ZIJ/13/9/2021