Corrupt govt. officials paid billions of stolen money to ACC… ACC “VALIDATES’’ 2019 / 2020 AUDITOR GENERAL’S REPORTS

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The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has in a press release published names of both government and private institutions alleged to have either ‘‘misused or stole monies’’ said to have taken from state coffers. The release said the ACC has taken thorough steps and actions in relation to addressing ‘’critical issues raised in the Audit Reports of Sierra Leone 2019 and 2020.’’  

Below is the press statement issued by the ACC.

ACC- These interventions focused on aspects of possible, or alleged corruption, and conducts inconsistent with the provision(s) in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019.

After a thorough review, and analysis of the aforementioned Reports, the Commission initiated actions; with a view to investigating, prosecuting, or recovering public funds, public revenue, public property, as the case maybe, in accordance with Sections 7, and 48 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, respectively.

Below are the second set of issues, and areas of ACC interventions, and the outcomes of same:

1.MAKENI GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL. The 2019 Audit Report highlighted Five queries against the Makeni Government Hospital. They include; Ninety Million Leones (Le90,000,000) paid for fuel that was not supplied; payment of One Hundred and Twelve Million, Six Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Four Hundred Leones (Le112,630,400) contract not fully executed; imprest of Thirty-nine Million, Four Hundred and Sixteen Million Leones (Le 39,416,000) not retired in 2019; payment of Three Hundred and Ninety-eight Million, Forty-seven Thousand, One Hundred and Fifteen Leones (Le398,047,115) without supporting documents; and withholding tax of Seven Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty-eight Thousand, Nine Hundred and Six-one Leones (Le7,988,961) deducted but not paid to the National Revenue Authority (NRA). After thorough investigation into the said issues, the Commission was able to establish that no act of corruption was committed, as all supporting documents in relation to the queries were presented to ACC Investigators.

2.FALABA DISTRICT COUNCIL. The 2019 Auditor General’s Report alleged that Council authorities failed to deduct and pay withholding tax to the NRA totaling Thirty-one Million, Seven Hundred and Ninety-Seven Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty-five Leones (Le 31,797,645). The Report further alleged that the Council failed to account for revenues collected as timer dues to the tune of Eighty-two Million, Six Hundred Thousand Leones (Le82,600,000), paid allowances to absentee councilors to the tune of Forty-three Million, Two Hundred and Seventy thousand Leones (Le43,270,000), and improperly used resources by some devolved sectors to the tune of Eighty-Seven Million, Six Hundred and Eighty Thousand Leones (Le87,680,000). The Report also claimed that the sum of One Hundred and Forty-two Million, Four Hundred Thousand Leones (Le142,400,000) was revenue collected on receipt books but which the Council failed to account for. The ACC Investigations however found no evidence that may warrant a prosecution, due to the fact that, documents were produced to account for the said funds.

3.ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION AND SUPPLY AUTHORITY (EDSA). The 2020 Audit Report stated that EDSA was given a loan valued at Seven Million United States Dollars (USD $7,000,000), which was a clear liability of EDSA related to a revolving Letter of Credit to enable a steady supply of fuel for the Karpowership. But relevant documents for this loan were neither submitted to the Auditors nor disclosed in the General-Purpose Financial Statement. Investigations by the ACC however show that, EDSA was not given a loan as mentioned in the Report. The Investigations show that the Letter of Credit remains a contingent liability yet to be utilized. The ACC also finds that EDSA has so far been fulfilling its financial obligation under the contract. Therefore, this issue will be Kept in View (KIV).

4.SIERRA LEONE ROADS AUTHORITY (SLRA). The 2020 Audit Report alleged that SLRA paid untaxed allowances to the tune of One Hundred and Sixty Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty-five Thousand Leones (Le160,965,000) to Board Members between 2016 and 2018. ACC investigations however showed that there was no direct/indirect fraud of embezzlement of public funds; rather it was negligence on the part of the authorities concerned. Therefore, ACC has recommended for the Management of SLRA to refund the full amount.

5.SIERRA LEONE MARITIME ADMINISTRATION (SLMA).The 2020 Auditor General’s Report alleged that on diverse dates between January 2019 and December 2020, SLMA failed to pay into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) the total sum of Eight Hundred and Eighty-eight Thousand, Thirty-five United States Dollars and Twenty-six Cents (USD $$888,035.26). ACC upon concluding investigation finds that;

a)The amount of Eight Hundred and Seventy-two Thousand, Three Hundred and Forty-nine United States Dollars and Sixty-seven Cents (USD $$872,349.67) which was allegedly used to purchase Maritime items/equipment is owed to the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) by the Ship Registration Limited/SLMARAD.

b)The then Executive Director single handedly took the decision to utilize the 3rd party money owed to GoSL without the approval of the line Ministry, Board of Directors of SLMA and Ministry of Finance. The ACC has therefore asked him to refund the said *USD $872,349.67.*

c)With regards the Fifteen Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty-five United States Dollars and Fifty-Nine Cents (USD $15,685.59) highlighted in the Audit Report as outstanding payment to be made by SLMARAD, the ACC has asked that the payment is effected and evidence of payment be requested.

d)The agreement between SLMARAD and GoSL and SLMA is revisited and to go through the Ministry of Justice, Cabinet and/or Parliament for ratification.

e)The parties to the contract representing GoSL should be hiring external Auditors to audit the activities of SLMARAD every six months to ascertain detailed sales, government shares, number and details of registered vessels, certified seafarers, technical statistics, legal and operational overview.

6.THE GUMA VALLEY WATER COMPANY. The 2020 Auditor General’s Report highlighted that the total sum of Three Billion, One Hundred and Seventy-three Million, Five Hundred and Twenty-nine Thousand, Six Hundred and One Leones (Le3,173,529,601) were deducted as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes from staff salaries and allowances and not paid to the NRA by the Management of the Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC). The ACC investigation confirms that, PAYE for the years 31st December, 2018 and 2019 were not paid to the NRA by the Management of GVWC. The Commission therefore instructed the payment of the money due as PAYE to NRA and as of 23rd March, 2022, Five Hundred Million Leones (Le500,000,000) has been paid to NRA. The remaining amount of Two Billion, Six-hundred and Seventy-three Million, Five Hundred and Twenty- nine Thousand, Six Hundred and One Leones (Le2,673,529,601) still remains as PAYE to be paid to the NRA by the GVWC.  GVWC has however committed to pay same over a period of time.

We continue to thank and appreciate Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) for their diligence and cooperation in helping to combat corruption in Sierra Leone and Parliament for their support.

“cut increment in prices of petroleum products”

-CSOs demands

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As the prices of petroleum products continue to soar which in effect put undue burden of the masses and have cost many lives at stake, many organizations; including the press have been calling on government to cushion the rising prices of petroleum products.

The latest of the many civil society groups that has been calling on the government to help salvage the situation is a group of vibrant consortium who called themselves as ; Citizens Forum for Democratic Accountability (C4D).

For them they say the group ‘’is an independent entity that is committed to work with government to improve democratic accountability, effective service delivery, respect for human rights and national cohesion through advocacy, monitoring and increase public awareness in the country.’’ It said in a press statement .

The statement continued that ‘’ The niche of C4D is democratic accountability by which we aspire, inspire and empower citizens to demand feedbacks and hold government, elected and public officials to account, so as to enable government promote better performance, combat corruption, create better policies, ensure effective service delivery, national cohesion; make elected officials accountable to their constituents and combat corruption and abuse of power. In respect of the above, the attention of C4D is conspicuously drawn to the recent increment in the prices of petroleum products in the country by the government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) through the Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with petroleum products distributors in the country. C4D wishes to draw your attention to the artificial scarcity of the commodity due to profiteering and hoarding by some unscrupulous fuel dealers at the expense of Sierra Leoneans, leading to long queues at petrol stations to date. From the aforesaid, C4D is worried and frowns heavily at the decision of the government to perversely increase the prices of petroleum products without a speck of magnanimity to the poor people of Sierra Leone, the majority of whom lives below the poverty line, plagued with hardship and unemployment. It’s incredible and heart rendering that the government can engender the Petroleum Regulatory Agency to CITIZEN’S FORUM FOR DEMOCRATIC ACCOUNTABILITY We Aspire To Inspire And Empower Add: 48 Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone MOB: +(232) 76 891538/31 891538/33 914853 MOB: +(232) 76 891538/31 891538/33 914853 | Email: [email protected]|[email protected] With voice and accountability, C4D envisaged an accountable and transparent country with effective service delivery and national cohesion effect increment in the price of petroleum products twice in 17 days between 1 st March and 17th March, 2022, that is from Le 10, 10000 to Le 12,000 and from 12,000 to Le 15,000 respectively. This suggests an increment of 50% in less than three weeks and 100% in four years. In light of the above, C4D wants the government to note that, we are not oblivious of the current crisis in the Russo-Ukrainian War and its global impact on the prices of petroleum products. C4D is also aware of the argument advanced by the Petroleum Regulatory Agency in their effort to defend the increment in their Press Release, dated 28th February and 16th March 2022. However, C4D view the decision of the government to increase petroleum products as unjustifiable, inconsiderate and unacceptable at a time when the living conditions of ordinary Sierra Leoneans is appalling and families are struggling to make a living or survive. With this standpoint, C4D is calling on the government to note the following: 1. That the increment in the price of petroleum products is astronomical in cost despite the price of crude oil in the international scene. 2. That the increment in the price of petroleum products is an enormous burden to the already existing hardship experienced by Sierra Leoneans, compounded with the challenges of COVID-19 in the country. 3. That the increment has given rise to sheer exploitation and more suffering of Sierra Leoneans, especially to those who take home a minimum salary of Le, 600,000 per month. 4. That the increment is an additional burden that is hard to bite down and its therefore unbearable. 5. That the increment is affecting businesses in the country, especially those that depend heavily on petroleum products like fuel and diesel in the absence of electricity, which in turn affects the prices of goods and services in the country. 6. That the increment will cause an increase in inflation rate in the country which has the proclivity of deflating the economy. 7. That the cost of fuel is now higher than the minimum wage in the country. A pittance, unfit to match the increased prices of basic social amenities, such as foodstuffs, transport fares, goods and services in the country. 8. That the increment has led transport fares to double and routes shortened, forcing poor Sierra Leoneans who could not afford the unreasonable prices to trek to and from their places of work or businesses on daily basis. With voice and accountability, C4D envisaged an accountable and transparent country with effective service delivery and national cohesion C4D strongly believe that irrespective of the current global price increment on petroleum products due to the Russo-Ukrainian war and other factors, the government has the capacity to lower the prices of petroleum products in the country. With this view, C4D calls on the president and the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSLP): 1. To manage the crisis in the country by prompt review and cut down on the recent increment of petroleum products and other essential commodities, such as rice and cement among others, so as to salvage the burden of the suffering masses in the country. 2. To prioritize the wellbeing of the people rather than conniving with these importersto unscrupulously exploit the masses. 3. To invest in the importation, storage and distribution of petroleum products in the country 4. To construct storage facilities and procurements of Platts of refined petroleum products. 5. To increase the salary of workers as a way to improve the living conditions of Sierra Leoneans. 6. To review the prices of petroleum products on a monthly basis in accordance with the World market. 7. To review the transport fares and prevent drivers, who are of the habit of exploiting passengers with by increasing transport fares or make halfway stops instead of plying the roads from point to point as prescribed by the government. 8. To call on petroleum products dealers to open their stations and sell the commodity in order rather than creating panic as a result of long queues and the challenges in obtaining fuel. Over and above, C4D is calling on the government to do the needful and cut down on the recent increment on petroleum products, announced by the Petroleum Regulatory Authority on 17th March, 2022. As a responsible government you have a duty to provide basic social amenities for your citizens at a reasonable cost, such as electricity, pipe borne water, education, housing, good roads, hospital and food security as well as economic activity to promote living standards among others. However, If the prices of petroleum products are left unabated, the suffering masses will hold the government to account through political accountability’’ the said .

Bai Mahmoud lectures ECOWAS Politicians

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The President of the All Peoples Congress (APC) National Youth League Hon. Bai Mahmoud Bangura (BMB) has delivered a lecture on modern political dynamics and Democratic dictate  at the  Golden Palce Hotel in Grand Bassam Ivory Coast a couple of days ago. He spoke to political party leaders in the sub region who were mostly participants in the conference.

The Conference attracted at least two political Parries from every ECOWAS Country and it was organised by a group called ‘’ Political Parties Strengthing Academy in USA (PPSA).’’ The event was sponsored by The National Democratic Institute (NDI)

BMB, thrilled PPSA participants with history of political dynamics not just in Sierra Leone but Africa and the globe  that attract  delegates from the UNITED STATE and ECOWAS with Ideas and strategies on how political parties should survive amidst challenging moments to adopt to reforms and natural changing circumstances to keep its philosophy and ideals with contemporary developments.

According to him, He spoke on the challenges and Success stories of his own party bridging and bringing Opportunities of strong leadership and the political will to respond to positive circumstances that add value to the overall objective of the party’s Desire.

Speaking to Public Review, Mr. Bangura said he had a fine experience during the event which he described a great, noting that he will deliver similar lectures in Nigeria, Benin, UK in next few months to share a unique model political dynamics in Africa .

He called for an accountable and transparent Africa with effective service delivery and national cohesion.  

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