NGC Blasts

The National Chairman of National Grand Coalition (NGC), Dr. Dennis Bright has opined that the current Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) government is not different from previous governments in terms of financial uprightness. The NGC National Chairman based his opinion on the adverse findings on the mismanagement of public funds by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government contained in the Auditor General’s 2018 Report.

“The same old irregularities that previous audits uncovered during the APC years are the same types recurring under the current SLPP dispensation,” the NGC National Chairman charged. He named several MDAs and Public Enterprises, such as Water, Energy, Telecommunications, Embassies, Diplomatic Missions and Local Councils that the 2018 audit reports alleged have to account for a huge cash loss of Le140.9 billion in their books.

“It appears as if the leakages are not only continuing but increasing in volume. We are talking about deep-rooted, entrenched and institutional leakages that have endured and gathered strength through many governments,” the NGC Chairman commented acidly.

He noted that when the SLPP took over power, this government came out with very strong allegations of egregious corruption and financial mismanagement by the previous APC regime and promised to take decisive action to stop corruption and stop leakages in the system.

Another bad sign of this government’s financial indiscipline, the NGC Chairman said, is that of the Ministry of Finance spending Le13 billion outside its budget without first requesting the authority to do so from parliament as the constitution of Sierra Leone demands. Furthermore, the NGC Chairman raised eyebrows about the Chinese rice donated for the Fee Quality Education feeding program that alleged has been misappropriated. “What are the chances of this program succeeding if even ministers and top civil servants who are supposed to be supervising its implementation are freely helping themselves to the things that are meant for the children,” he asked.

Dr Bright moaned that it is alarming that since 1961 and in spite of all the auditors recommendations made every year on what to do to correct anomalies in the use of public funds, successive governments are still making unexplained expenditures, unsupported payments, not retiring imprests, and not accounting for fuel.

“It is our view that irregularities for such basic things are not mistakes but are done deliberately to confuse and escape,” Dr Bright surmised, adding that the only way to fight against this is to “take decisive action not only against those directly responsible for these losses but also their managers and supervisors.”

However, he said sadly that public officials know that after the audit reports “there will be some noise for a few weeks, nobody will be penalized and business will continue as usual.”

The auditor general, he said, has indicated that the root causes of poor audit outcomes are, among many, slow response by authorities for calls for internal controls; lack of consequences for poor performance; transgressions of general governance rules and regulations; weaknesses in performance management, which include lack of credible and effective performance management systems and lack of adequate monitoring.