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S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 8

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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AUDITOR GENERAL'S ANNUAL REPORT
ON THE ACCOUNTS OF SIERRA LEONE 2011

7.37. Office of the Vice president

7.37.1. Per Diem allowances not accounted for

The sum of $19,812 was collected as per diem for various overseas trips by the secretary to the VP, on behalf of the VPís entourage. However, no evidence was provided to confirm that the beneficiaries on those trips did receive their per diem as budgeted. It was therefore recommended that in future, members of the VPís entourage should sign for their per diem when collecting them and those details added to the related payment voucher. It was also recommend that the secretary to the VP should ensure that he provided for audit verification the missing evidence within thirty days of the receipt of the report, otherwise the appropriate authorities will be informed.

Officialís Response: The secretary to the VP explained that the originals of such payments were normally returned to the office of the Accountant-General upon retirement of the amounts provided as Imprest adding that the duplicate also bearing the signatures of the individual recipients of the Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) were all contained in their Expenditure Files retained by the Senior Accountant which were inadvertently not presented during the Audit. He mentioned that they had since been traced and were ready for inspection and verification at ASSLís earliest convenience.

ASSL Comment: The auditors after verification stated that documents relating to the sum of Le 329,470,000 collected for DSA, for local trips of the VPís entourage, were made available upon verification and the evidence provided confirmed the receipt of DSA by beneficiaries. It was however unfortunate that the sum of $19,812 collected as per diem for overseas trip by the secretary to the VP, on behalf of the VPís entourage still had no evidence.

7.37.2. Imprest not retired

Imprest not retired

Whenever the VP travelled to the regions, the SVP collected Imprest/contingences. However, there was no documentary evidence in the form of invoices and receipts, or other retirement details, explaining how the contingences were expended. The sum involved was Le 60,000,000 and $58,009. It was therefore recommended that in future, the Accountant General should reject requests for Imprest from any Public Officer with an outstanding retirement. Also the secretary to the VP should make available the retirement details for the above amounts within thirty days of the receipt of the report; otherwise, the appropriate authorities would be informed.

Officialís Response: The secretary to the VP replied that it was the normal practice for the VP to be provided with Incidental Imprest when he undertook Provincial and Overseas official visits. Such Imprest, he said, were duly signed for, by the Chief of Protocol on behalf of the VP who disbursed same on a non-accountable basis, i.e. $7,000 and $15,000 respectively. As the issue had been raised by Audit, he said they would henceforth ensure that a Ledger was opened for such transactions and they would advise the VP to endorse as recipient.

Additionally, the amount of $36,009 that formed part of the $58,099, he said, was provided by Government for the hosting of the Lombardi Trade Fair and Investment Forum in Italy. He noted that the Forum was intended to attract international investors in line with Governmentís policy to rebrand Sierra Leone as an Investor friendly nation that was open to legitimate business enterprises. He mentioned that the amount in question was hand delivered by the Chief of Protocol to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture who was Head of the Advanced Team to Italy that worked closely with Sierra Leoneís Ambassador in Germany with Plenipotentiary responsibility for Italy, to convene the Investment Forum. He concluded that the Investment Forum in Italy, like that convened in London, was fully authorized by Government and that the receipts for the Lombardi Trade Fair and Investment Forum had been traced and were ready for inspection.

ASSL Comment: Upon verification the auditors stated that the retirement details relating to the amount of $36,009 provided by Government for the hosting of the Lombardi Trade Fair and Investment Forum in Italy were submitted for audit verification and were satisfactory. However, no document or evidence was provided for the retirement for the use of Le 60,000,000, $7,000 and $15,000.

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