5,000 Govt. Ghost Workers Go Underground

 

Over 5, 000 Sierra Leoneans, who were receiving salaries from the Government payroll for doing sweet nothing, are reported to be having sleepless nights following instructions from the Ministry of Finance and the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) that the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) should from the 10th to 24th September, 2018 undertake a comprehensive nationwide biometric verification of all civil and public servants.

Investigations conducted by The Exclusive indicate that there are thousands of ‘ghost’ workers whose names are on the government payroll in various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Given the gravity attached to this latest effort by the government to expunge ‘ghost’ workers from the payroll, thousands of people who were not working for the government but were allegedly receiving salaries from its payroll should by now realize that the free government largess they had been illegally receiving would come to an end after the exercise.

“It is a well-orchestrated syndicate that has run for decades,” a retired civil servant, who worked in the Accounts Section of a government institution, disclosed, adding that, “It involves very senior personnel that orchestrate the scam in order to have their own shares of the illegal salaries claimed by ‘ghost’ workers.”

The Exclusive also gathered that many of the ‘ghost’ workers whose salaries are being collected by unscrupulous senior officials have retired, resigned, travelled overseas or died. In other instances, according to our investigations, the numbers of staff in some MDAs are deliberately inflated while the salaries go into the pockets of senior officials running the syndicate.

In one of the government Ministries, a source that preferred anonymity said: “There are people I know who do not work in this Ministry but come to collect salaries at the end of every month. Many of these ‘ghost’ workers work in other offices or are engaged in commercial activities. The HRMO and the accountants in the MDAs know a lot about how the deal operates.”

It could be recalled that on assuming office in April, this year, President Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio declared that to better manage the economy and to free up financial resources for improved service delivery by the government, he was going to close financial loopholes. It is in that direction that the NCRA has been tasked with verifying and registering all civil and public servants including all parliamentarians, ministers, government workers, teachers, medical staff, police, soldiers, fire force and correctional service personnel.

The newly appointed NCRA Director General, Mohamed Massaquoi has said the exercise which intends to stop wastage of national resources, sanitize the government payroll and enhance transparency and accountability will not tolerate any dishonesty from civil and public servants.

He maintained that giving false, fake and misleading information will not be countenanced and can incur penalties including but not limited to dismissal from service.

Sanitizing the government payroll to make it accurately reflective of actual workers in service has been a headache for governments since the days of the late former President Siaka Probyn Stevens, when he set up a Commission of Inquiry in the early 1980s to sanitize the government payroll. The investigation was dubbed “Voucher-gate.”

When former President Ernest Bai Koroma acceded to power on 17th September, 2007, his Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Minkailu Bah launched a crusade to sanitize the teachers’ payroll by targeting ‘ghost’ workers. He reportedly succeeded in discovering over 6, 000 non-existent teachers whose names were on the government payroll, thereby resulting to saving billions of Leones for the Government of Sierra Leone.