“The office of the President and First lady are implicated” audit report.
By Alpha Kamara in New York
Sierra Leone’s audit report 2020 said about four million ($ 4m) US dollars was unaccounted for by government. The report further noted that cash losses in total amounted to over eleven million ($ 11 m) US dollars for the period under review. The 562 page report released this week highlighted in details corruption in all governance sectors including the office of the president and the First lady. Discrepancies in financial reporting of oversea travels by the president were also highlighted.
The report said among other things, the president’s trip to Lebanon for medical treatment cost the country over three hundred and fifty two thousand USD ($ 352,000). Also receipts were not provided for expenditures totaling over one hundred and fifty six thousand US dollars ($ 156,000).
In the same trip, over seventy five thousand US dollars ($ 75,000) needs to be refunded to the consolidated revenue fund because the money was paid twice to presidential staff for DSA and hotel accommodation. “$ 75,852 was paid to staff that accompanied the president to Lebanon for hotel and accommodation even though they were initially paid $ 73,416 for the same for the same purpose. This is call double dipping,” the report noted.
The report said the principal assistant to the Secretary to the president and the State chief of protocol should explain further on how that payment was made and the processes followed to hire the private jet to Lebanon.
The office of the First lady was also implicated in the audit report. The report says the State Chief of Protocol and Personal Assistant to the First lady of Sierra Leone should refund the sum of one hundred and ten thousand ($110,000) USD because the receipts submitted have inaccuracies and discrepancies. The receipts have also been disputed by the concerned parties.
Expenditures in Sierra Leone embassies across Africa were also highlighted. It says, between 2013 to 2020, cash losses recorded amounted to almost three million ($3m)The report also highlighted corruption in the school system, correctional centers and the country’s taxation department. Sierra Leone’s information minister Mohamed Rahman Swaray said people have time to clear their names. He said they are studying the report and will act on it in due course.
Meanwhile, the country’s anti-corruption commission in a press release said it is reviewing the report and issues and culprits identified will be questioned.
President Bio’s government campaigned on the grounds of fighting corruption. But this report has clearly highlighted that corruption is still embedded in the governance system of this government just as in the past. The full report can be found on the link attached.