SIERRA LEONE EMBASSY, GUINEA FOR THE PERIOD 1ST OCTOBER, 2007- 1ST DECEMBER, 2009.
1. Price Lists not displayed
Price lists for Visa Fees, Laissez Passers and Identification Cards were not displayed in a conspicuous place on the premises of the Chancery.
It was recommended that the HOC should ensure that pricelists were displayed in a conspicuous place within the Embassy.
The HOC mentioned that the pricelists were indeed not displayed in a conspicuous place on the premises of the Chancery because of changes that usually occurred in the fees and that in line with my recommendation pricelists for Visa Fees, Laissez Passers and Identification Cards have since been put on display on the Notice Board on the premises of the Chancery.
2. Consular Fees not banked
An examination of the General Receipts, Visa Fees Register and Visa Stickers revealed that amounts, totalling $133,665.00, were collected as Visa Fees for the period under review. Further examination of the Bank Paying-in-Slips and Bank Statements revealed that out of this amount, only the sum of $89,812.00 was banked leaving an outstanding balance of $43,853.00. There was no evidence as to how this amount was accounted for by the Embassy. Furthermore, the following control weaknesses were observed in the accounting for Laissez Passers and ID Cards for the period under review:
A Cash Book was not maintained;
Receipts were not issued;
Laissez Passers were not serially numbered/prenumbered and were not printed in Booklet forms with duplicates and triplicates;
Bank Pay-in-slips or Bank Statements were not produced for inspection and;
There was no indication that the Embassy had sought the approval of the National Registration Secretariat for the issue of ID Cards to Sierra Leoneans in Guinea.
The following were recommended;
That the HOC should ensure that the outstanding amount of $43,453.00 must be accounted for by those concerned and receipt details communicated to me for verification;
That Cash Books, Receipts, Payment Slips and Bank Statements must be used in respect of Laissez Passers and ID Cards;
That all Laissez Passers must be prenumbered and printed by the Government Printing Department/an authorised Printer and must be printed in Booklet form;
That, in future, the HOC should ensure that adequate safeguards existed and were applied in the assessment, collection and accounting of revenues; and
That the HOC should seek the approval of the National Registration Secretariat for the issue of ID Cards.
In his reply the HOC stated that in most cases the Embassy was forced to seek approval for expenditure out of Visa Fees Account. This he said was true for instance where the Embassy experienced delays in receiving its regular budgetary allocations/remittances from the Accountant General. He said whenever the Embassy was faced with such a scenario, headquarters was immediately informed and the relevant directives were given for the use of such a fund as may be requested by the HOC and approved by headquarter. He added that Visa Fees totalling $43,853.00 were therefore used by the Embassy upon approval from headquarters for the day-to-day expenditure of the Embassy. In concluding the HOC said, copies of the relevant supporting documents in respect of these expenditures were available for verification and that the Embassy had instituted the following control mechanisms in accounting for Laissez Passers and ID Cards:
A Cash Book was maintained;
Receipts were issued;
Laissez Passers were serially numbered/renumbered and printed in triplicate;
Bank Pay-in-slips and Bank Statements were available; and
The National Registration Secretariat had been notified for the issue of ID Cards to Sierra Leoneans in Guinea.
3. Withdrawals from Account
An examination of relevant documents and Bank Statements revealed that the amount of $5,500.00 was withdrawn from the Visa Account No.01569000002-81 without a corresponding authority. In addition, there were no supporting documents such as; invoices, receipts, bills, claim sheets etc. to justify these withdrawals.
It was highly recommended that the HOC should ensure that the relevant authorities and supporting documents in respect of the amount stated above were forwarded to my office for verification; failing which such amounts should be recovered from the officers concerned and paid back into the Visa Account.
In his reply the HOC stated that the relevant authorities for the withdrawal of $5,500.00 from the Visa Account No. 01569000002-81 were not submitted for inspection due to misfiling. He mentioned that, after a search in all files containing authorities for withdrawals from the Embassy’s Accounts, the relevant authorities for the withdrawal of $1,500.00 and $4,000 were located and appropriately filed. He noted that, these amounts were used for an official trip to Mali by the Ambassador and the repatriation of the Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador respectively.
4. Issue of Visa Stickers
Some anomalies were observed in the issue of Visa Stickers. Necessary details like the amount received, the particulars of the payment and date of payment were not indicated on the stubs. Also, a photocopy and not the original was attached to the booklet which was considered as a Cancelled Visa.
The following recommendations were offered:
The HOC should provide details of Visa Stickers listed above and original copy of Visa Sticker SL115284 of 13/8/09 issued on to Mr. Thakkar Mayan Matvarlal;
Whenever Visa Stickers were issued, all details on the Stickers including the amount received the particulars of the payment and date of payment must be entered
on the stubs; and
Whenever Visa Stickers were cancelled, the originals and all other copies must be attached for verification purposes.
The HOC replied that it was an oversight that the Blank Visa Sticker Stubs were without the necessary details like the amount received, the particulars of the payment and the date of payment. He however said that, these details were recorded in the Visa Register and that it had been reconciled. The original of a cancelled Visa Sticker had been attached to the Visa Sticker Stubs.
The quarterly allocations for Other Charges and monthly Salaries and Wages for staff continue to reach the Embassy’s Account. It was, however, noted that these allocations were usually not received on time. Also, unanticipated bank charges for periodic remittances have continuously reduced the total remittances sent to the Embassy. There were instances when a constant amount of $25.00 was levied as bank charges on each remittance received.
The Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation should ensure that quarterly allocations for Other Charges and monthly Salaries and Wages for staff are sent within a reasonable time frame. In addition, adequate provision should be made to cover Bank Charges, so that the allocated amount remains intact.
The ASSL was informed that this issue had been communicated to the Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation and the Accountant General for necessary action.
6. Payment Vouchers
It was observed that Payment Vouchers were not often signed by recipients for services rendered to the Embassy. In addition, some Payment Vouchers had amounts written in figures and not in words.
It was recommended that adequate and relevant information should be included on all Payment Vouchers so as to lend credibility to all financial transactions. Also, officers authorising payments should ensure that amounts in figures should also be written in words to prevent the risk of alterations on Payment Vouchers.
The HOC informed the ASSL that the recommendation was noted and that adequate and relevant information had since been included on all Payment Vouchers and that the Embassy had since ensured that amounts in figures were also written in words on Payment Vouchers.
7. Procurement of Goods
On reviewing the Internal Control Systems of purchases, it was observed that expenditures incurred on goods and services did not adhere to the usual three (3) Proforma Invoices requirement. Requisition Forms, Delivery Notes, Suppliers/Contractors’ Business Registration Certificates and Income Tax Clearances were not attached to the Payment Vouchers produced for inspection.
It is recommended that all expenditure incurred for the procurement of goods and services should meet the usual three Proforma Invoices requirement, and that all goods procured should be accompanied by Delivery Notes. In addition the Embassy should ensure doing business with reputable suppliers/contractors.
8. Bank Reconciliation not prepared
Bank Reconciliation Statements were not prepared for the following accounts held by the Embassy:
A/C No. 01108580001-66 ( Salaries and Other Charges);
A/C No. 01569000002-81(Visa Fees); and
A/ C No. 01108580004-57(Local Currency)
We advised in strong terms that, all bank accounts should be reconciled monthly, reviewed by a senior officer other than the person who prepared it and must be filed in a manner that would enable the document to be retrieved when needed.
In his reply the HOC stated that monthly Bank Reconciliations had since been carried out by the Finance Officer, reviewed by the HOC and appropriately filed for the following accounts held by the Embassy:
A/C No. 01108580001 – 66 (Salaries and Other charges);
A/C No. 01569000002 – 81 (Visa Fees); and
A/C No. 01108580004 – 57 (Local Currency)
9. Withdrawals from Salaries and Other Charges Accounts
The sum of $33,346.00 was withdrawn from Salaries and Other Charges A/C No. 01108580001-66 without the corresponding authorities. In addition, there were no supporting documents such as invoices, receipts, bills, claim sheets etc. to justify these withdrawals.
The HOC was strongly advised to ensure that the relevant authorities and supporting documents in respect of the amounts stated above were forwarded to my office for verification; failing which the whole amount should be recovered from the officers concerned for the period in question and receipt details forwarded for my verification.
The HOC informed the ASSL that the relevant authorities for the withdrawal of $33,346.00 from the Salaries and Other charges A/C No. 01108580001-66 were not submitted for inspection due to misfiling. He added that after a thorough search in all files containing authorities for withdrawals from the embassy’s Accounts, the relevant authorities for these withdrawals were located and appropriately filed and that copies of supporting documents such as, Paid Salary Vouchers, invoices, receipts, bills claim sheets etc to justify the withdrawals had since been appropriately filed for accountability.
10. Purchase of Vehicle
A final payment of $8,000.00 was made on PV No. AG10501 of 8/7/08 to a supplier (Arpen-con Associate) for the purchase of a vehicle for the Deputy Ambassador. Copies of the Contract Agreement, Delivery Note and other relevant supporting documents were not available for inspection.
It was recommended that the HOC should ensure that a copy of the Contract Agreement, Delivery Note and all relevant supporting documents to this transaction were submitted for inspection.
In his reply the HOC stated that the vehicle was indeed supplied to the Embassy. He noted that copies of the Contract Agreement, Delivery Note and other relevant supporting documents to this transaction had been requested from headquarters for verification.
11. Telephone Bills
The Entitlements of Ambassadors/Deputy Ambassadors, Head of Chancery/1st Secretary regarding telephone bills per month were as follows:
Ambassadors Residence 200.00
Deputy Ambassadors: Residence 200.00
Head of Chancery: Residence 150.00
1st Secretary Residence 150.00
In spite of the above, the sum of $2,297.64 (GNF11,718,000.00) was disbursed on PV No.AG 14814 of 17/12/09 as telephone bills, in excess of the limit by $697.64
We therefore recommended the following;
The recovery of the overpayment in question should be done immediately and information supplied for verification;
In addition, he should ensure that in future, all payment documents must be properly checked and verified internally before approving; and
The HOC should strictly adhere to laid down conditions relating to telephone facilities to prevent funds going down the drain.
The HOC mentioned that the amount of $697.64 had been recovered from the personnel involved and that amount was charged on their entitlements in respect of telephone bills for the month of August and September.
Several claims were submitted for refund by a number of staff for the period under review. These were out of pocket expenditures incurred by them on behalf of the Embassy. It was observed that out of a total of twenty five (25) Payment Vouchers examined, seven (7), with amounts totalling GNF9,147,400.00 and $4,132.87, had no requests from claimants.
It was therefore recommended that in the absence of the necessary requests from claimants, the HOC should ensure that the total amount paid out be refunded into the Embassy’s Account and the receipts forwarded for my verification.
Also, in future, refunds should only be honoured after requests backed by the relevant authentic receipts, had been submitted.
In his reply the HOC stated that out of pocket expenditures incurred by staff for and on behalf of the Embassy were only honoured after the submission of an official request for a refund backed by the relevant supporting documentation. He noted that refunds were only effected by the Finance Officer after the request had been approved by the HOC. He said copies of requests from claimants in respect of refunds of out of pocket expenditures totalling GNF9,147,400.00 and $4,132.87 had been assembled and can be examined.
13. Repatriation of recalled Ambassadors
In a memo dated 21st July, 2008 from the Secretary to the President, it was stated that the HOC was to make appropriate arrangements to facilitate the return of the Ambassador and his Deputy to Sierra Leone, particularly with the shipment of the personal effects for which funds were exclusively remitted.
The HOC was also instructed to terminate all personal expenditures, claims, privileges, immunities and other facilities in respect of the said Ambassador and his deputy with effect from 31st of August, 2008.
It was further noted that:
On the 19th of September, 2009, the Embassy was mandated by the Director General to undertake payment for the transportation of the personal effects of both Ambassador S.B.Saccoh and his deputy Ambassador A.B.Kamara. The total amount expended in this transaction was to be reimbursed as soon as the processing of relevant financial documents at Headquarters was completed;
The total amount remitted for this purpose was not disclosed nor was the amount to have been expended by the Embassy spelt out in the mandate of the Director General;
A total of $4,000.00 was claimed to have been paid out of the Other Charges Account of the Embassy for the repatriation of these officials; and
There was no evidence that the Embassy had been reimbursed with this amount as contained in the mandate of the Director General.
It was therefore recommended that the HOC should provide an explanation as to why the instructions of the President were not followed. In addition, the Director General should proffer an explanation on the above issue.
Furthermore, the amount exclusively remitted for this transaction must be disclosed and details forwarded to the Embassy and to my office for verification.
The amount of $4,000.00 must be refunded into the Embassy’s Account and details of repayment forwarded for my verification.
The HOC noted that the ASSL’s findings and recommendations for a refund of the sum of $4,000 into the Embassy’s Account had been communicated to the Director General. He stated that repayment details would be communicated to the ASSL whenever the said amount was refunded.
14. Payments not acknowledged
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on the 12th of December, 2008 issued a memorandum to all Ambassadors and High Commissioners reiterating the need for necessary clearance to be sought from Headquarters before engaging on official travels. In spite of this, there was no evidence that such clearance was sought from Headquarters for official trips made by the Ambassador and his Deputy. An amount of $1,400.70 on PV No.AG 7245 of 16/10/09 was alleged to have been paid to the Deputy Ambassador for an overseas travel to Freetown to have consultations with the President. The Ambassador’s approval was not evidenced and the amount was not signed for by the Deputy Ambassador. Also, the amounts of $2,000.00 on PV No. AG10623 of 28/4/09 and $2,000.00 on PV No. AG10624 of 28/4/09 were paid to the Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador for a familiarization trip to Mali. These amounts were also not signed for as evidence of receipt.
It was highly recommended that the Embassy should strictly adhere to the directives of the Minister as they would facilitate the judicious use of scarce financial resources and that, in future, all monies disbursed should be signed for as evidence of receipt by the appropriate person(s).
In his reply, the HOC stated that copies of correspondence from the Embassy in respect of requesting clearance from Headquarters before engaging on official travels are retained in the Embassy. He further said, because of poor filing system then, it was difficult to locate these documents and submit them during the audit exercise.
The trip made by the Deputy Ambassador to Freetown to have consultation with the President was approved by the Ambassador and the failure by the Deputy Ambassador to sign the Payment voucher was an oversight, he stated, adding that the Voucher PV No. AG7245 of 16/10/09 for the amount of $1,400.70 had since been signed by the Deputy Ambassador.
15. Fixed Assets
The Embassy did not have a policy on the movement, additions and disposal of its assets. A proper Fixed Assets Register which should include all the assets of the Embassy, (Chancery and Residence) stating clearly the number of assets, cost, date of acquisition, additions, locations and other relevant details was not maintained. This made it difficult to verify the assets of the Embassy. The assets at both the Chancery and Residence were not marked with a durable identification label or tag.
We recommended that a properly designed Fixed Assets Register should be maintained and regularly updated to record all movements by way of additions to, or disposals of Fixed Assets. The Register should contain the following information:
Cost of the Asset;
Description of the Asset;
Date of Purchase;
Location of Asset;
Serial/Chassis Number; and
Rate of Depreciation
It was also recommended that a verification exercise should be conducted regularly to reconcile the Fixed Assets Register with the assets in existence. Any difference must be promptly investigated and corrective measures. Also, all assets must receive an efficient and durable identification label or mark indicating the order/invoice number assigned to them.
The HOC informed the ASSL that the Embassy considered the recommendations very useful in the management of its assets. In this vein, he said, a Fixed Assets Register was being maintained and regularly updated to record all movements by way of additions to, or disposals of Fixed Assets pointing out that the Register contained the recommended details which were regularly updated and all assets had been coded and marked.
16. Maintenance Policy not instituted
Several repairs and maintenance were done to Vehicles, the Chancery Building, Residence of the Ambassador and equipment. It was observed that there was no Maintenance Policy in place to prolong the useful lives of the assets.
It was recommended that the Embassy should institute a Maintenance Policy to prolong the useful life of the assets.
The HOC noted that a Maintenance Policy in respect of Vehicles, the Chancery building, Residence of the Ambassador and equipment had since been put in operation in the Embassy.
17. Fuel utilization
A Fuel Register and Vehicle Log Books were not in use to account for fuel worth $8,555.94. It was also observed that there was no Fuel Policy to indicate the procurement and disbursement procedures and the personnel entitled to receive fuel.
The following were recommended:
A Fuel Register and Vehicle Log Books must be maintained to account for fuel;
A Fuel Policy must be formulated to clearly indicate the procurement and disbursement procedure, the personnel entitled to receive fuel and the quantity of fuel
to be given to the entitled officials; and
Recipients of fuel must sign the register as an acknowledgement of receipt.
In his reply the HOC stated that a Fuel register and Vehicle Log books had since been maintained. In addition, he said there was a clear policy on the receipt and use of fuel and that recipient now signed in the Fuel Register for all issues made.
18. Rent for the Chancery Building
It was noted that a formal Tenancy Agreement existed between the Head of Chancery and the Landlord in respect of the Chancery Building. It was also noted that another floor had been added to the existing space of the building. On the 15th of December, 2009, a Rent Proposal Notice in respect of the added space was sent to the Head of Chancery. This Notice pointed out the intention of the Landlord to rent the added space. Since the Embassy was the first tenant, the Landlord was willing to rent the floor to the Embassy at a preferential price of $1,000.00 per month. The Embassy was to have responded to the Notice by 1st January, 2010. As at the time of writing this report, no response had been received from the Embassy.
It was therefore highly recommended that the Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation should ensure that an agreement be reached with the Landlord and the additional floor occupied by the Embassy.
The HOC noted our recommendation and said that he had communicated to the Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for necessary action.
19. Security of the Residence and the Chancery premises
Interviews with key personnel regarding security arrangements for the Embassy and Accredited Staff revealed the following:
The Embassy had been relying on Vigilantes working with the Guinean Police Force for their security. Though their service was fraught with problems, it was cheap
and affordable, especially when funds were not readily available. However, the Guinean Police had withdrawn these vigilantes who were later absorbed into
the National Police Force.
The Embassy had since been left without security personnel to protect the premises.
Although this very important issue had been brought to the attention of the Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation since
October, 2008, no provision had been made for alternative arrangements in the quarterly Other Charges allocations sent to the Embassy.
We advised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation should ensure that security of the Embassy and Residence be addressed immediately.
In addition, provision should also be made in the Embassy’s quarterly Other Charges allocations in respect of security.
The HOC noted the ASSL’s advice and said that he had communicated to the Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for necessary action.
20. Unpresented Salary and Wages Vouchers
Salary and Wages Vouchers for the under-mentioned periods were not submitted for inspection:
October to December, 2007;
January to April, 2008; and
June and July, 2008
We recommended that, the HOC should conduct a thorough search and produce the documents for inspection; otherwise the above section of the Audit Service Act will be invoked.
In his reply the HOC stated that the ASSL’s recommendations were relevant and that he considered the need to improve on the records management system of the Embassy. He said, prior to that time all records in respect of Salaries and Other Charges were not properly filed and some were just forwarded to Headquarters in Freetown without retaining copies at the Embassy. He mentioned that, they were however glad to inform the ASSL that copies of Salaries and Wages vouchers for the under-mentioned periods had been obtained and were available for inspection:
October to December, 2007;
January to April, 2008; and
June and July, 2008;
21. Inconsistent signatures on Salary Vouchers
It was observed that the signatures of two staff in the Salary Vouchers for August – December, 2008 and January – March, 2009 respectively, were inconsistent. A total of $5,690.21 was involved. Also, the signature of the former Deputy Ambassador in the Salary Voucher for August 2008 was different. The amount involved was $5,599.00. Person(s) without written permission may be collecting someone else’s salary, or the staff may have been included in the payroll even after they may have left the service.
The following were therefore recommended:
The HOC should submit an explanation in respect of the above anomalies;
The HOC must ensure that at all times staff should be consistent in their signatures;
Where authorities are sent for salary collection, the authorized persons should indicate “for” before signing their own names on the Salary Vouchers; and
The HOC must check and reconcile the Monthly Payroll Report from the
Accountant General’s Office against his or her Staff List and report all variances for correction to the Accountant General.
In his reply the HOC stated the following;
That since Mr. Fode M Kargbo was on sick leave he issued an authority for these salaries for the months in question to be collected by his wife. He said that, her failure to indicate “for” before signing on the Salary vouchers had given rise to this query.
That the former Deputy Ambassador, Mr. Alie Badara Kamara, was on an official trip overseas and therefore authorised his cousin to collect his salary for the month of August 2008; again his failure to indicate “for” before signing on the Salary Vouchers had given rise to this query
That the Embassy had instituted mechanisms to ensure that where authorities were sent for salary collection, the authorized persons should indicate “for” before signing their own names on the Salary Vouchers.
22. Unauthorised payments of salaries and wages
Salary payments totalling $1,071.31 were signed for and received by persons other than those whose names were on the Salary Vouchers. It was observed that employees did not issue any authority for third parties to sign for and collect their salaries in their absence.
In a memo dated 16th April, 2009 from the Director of Administration and Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to all Repleones, it was stressed that for prudent Financial Management and the Principle of Accountability, all employees should be allowed to sign for and receive their salaries and other personal emoluments. This directive was also ignored by the Embassy.
It was highly recommended that, Letters of Authority prior to the memo dated 16th April, 2009 from the Director of Administration and Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to all Repleones must be provided for verification, or the above amount refunded and paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, with a receipt forwarded to this office for verification. In addition, all amounts signed for after 16th April 2009 must be paid back into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, with a receipt forwarded to this office for verification.
Furthermore, the HOC should ensure that Letters of Authority must always be attached to the Salary Voucher.
The HOC told the ASSL that he must reiterate that prior to that time all records in respect of Salaries and Other Charges were not properly filed and some were just forwarded to Headquarters in Freetown without retaining copies at the Embassy. However authorities were filed separately and not attached to Salary Vouchers, he noted.
The HOC also said that, with regard to salary payments totalling $1,071.31 to persons other than those whose names were on the Salary Vouchers, it must be noted that those were salaries in respect of employees assigned to the residence of the Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador. In those instances, the HOC said the Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador signed for and collected the salaries for onward payment to their respective staff. See details of staff below:
Payments signed for without authority 2009
Furthermore he said that, The memo dated 16th April, 2009 from the Director of Administration and Finance Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation to all Repleones, stressing that for prudent Financial Management and the Principle of Accountability, all employees should be allowed to sign for and receive their salaries and other personal emoluments, was received in the Embassy after these transactions. Since its receipt, all employees signed and collected their salaries in the Embassy premises, he concluded.
23. Unclaimed salaries/Arrears of salaries
Salary arrears for the period January, 2009 – June, 2009, totalling $ 2,050.06, were not signed for as received by some staff. Also amounts, totalling $43,928.98, were paid as salaries and wages in respect of staff for which the respective staff did not sign as evidence of receipt. There was neither a confirmation of these payments subsequently nor was there any document to substantiate the refund of the amounts into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
It was recommended that any payment of the said amount to the respective employees must be forwarded for my perusal; otherwise the stated amount must be paid back into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The HOC stated that the amounts of $2,050.06 and $43,928.98 in respect of salary arrears and salaries respectively were not unclaimed but actually paid to and received by beneficiaries. He added that, the failure to sign the respective vouchers was an oversight as there was no way a staff can work for months without receiving salaries for those months. However the respective vouchers had since been signed by the employees, he noted.
24. Replacement of names on the payroll
In spite of a request from the Head of Chancery to the Director General for the replacement of names on the Embassy’s Payroll, the following were observed:
The names of eight (8) former employees (mainly those who were attached to the former Ambassador and Deputy) were still on the Salary Vouchers.
An examination of Staff Personal Files revealed that owing to prolonged illness, Mr. Fode M. Kargbo had his service terminated as of 1st May 2009, but his name still existed on the Salary Vouchers. In a memo referenced K/1/B/Vol.XIX/09 of 15th May, 2009, a Retirement Benefit Schedule was prepared and forwarded to the Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, for permission to pay End of Service Benefits to him. It was however noted from interviews held that Mr. Fode.M. Kargbo had died before the payment of his End of Year Service to the Embassy. His Personal File was not updated with the following information:
Certificate confirming/relating to his death;
Documents nominating the deceased’s next of kin and to whom payments of his
End of Service Benefit should be made; and
A Will (if any)
We recommended that the HOC should ensure the updating of Mr. Fode. M. Kargbo’s Personal File with a Certificate confirming/relating to his death, documents nominating the next of kin and to whom payment of his End of Service Benefits should be made, a Will (if any). No payment should be effected without these documents and copies of the documents forwarded to my office for verification.
In addition, the Director General was to ensure the replacement of the names listed above on the Embassy’s Payroll.
In his reply the HOC stated that as recommended, Mr. Fode M. Kargbo’s Personal file had been updated with a Certificate confirming/relating to his death, documents nominating the next of kin and to whom payments of his End of Service Benefits should be made. In addition, he stated that, observations and recommendations had been communicated to the Director General and Accountant General for necessary action.
25. NASSIT deductions
An examination of payroll documents revealed that NASSIT contributions, totalling $9,108.41, were deducted at source from the salaries of staff. There was no evidence that these deductions were paid over to NASSIT. Failure to pay over the amounts withheld from employees’ salaries would result in difficulties being encountered at NASSIT by employees on retirement. The retirement benefits of staff will be seriously affected as retired workers will not be able to get their correct terminal benefit packages and the Embassy risks being sanctioned for not complying with regulations related to amounts withheld.
It was therefore recommended that amounts due must be paid immediately to NASSIT and receipt details submitted to my office for verification, otherwise the Embassy will be liable to a penalty as stated in Section 27 (1a) of the NASSIT Act, 2001
The HOC noted that as observed by the ASSL, NASSIT contributions, totalling $9,108.41, were deducted at source from the salaries of staff by the Accountant General. Therefore payment of these deductions should be made to NASSIT by the Accountant General and receipts forwarded to the Embassy for record purposes, he added. He HOC also noted the ASSL observations and recommendations which he said had been communicated to headquarters and the Accountant General for necessary action.
26. Salaries paid to recalled Ambassadors
An examination of paid Salary Vouchers revealed that the former Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador (Dr. S.B Saccoh and Mr. Alie Badara Kamara) received salaries for September, 2008 even though a memo from the Secretary to the President indicated a stoppage of all such benefits from 31st August, 2008. The amounts involved were $5,506.25 and $5,599.00 respectively.
The following were recommended;
The HOC was requested to explain the reason for paying the Ambassador, Dr. S.B Saccoh and Deputy Ambassador, Mr. Alie Badara Kamara, when in effect the officers
were no longer staff of the Embassy;
The HOC should recover the amounts of $5,506.25 and $5,599.00 respectively from the officers concerned and immediately pay back into the Consolidated Revenue Fund with receipt details forwarded to my office for verification; failing which the former will be personally liable for making good the loss to Government; and
The HOC should ensure that in future whenever staff were recalled, the Accountant General should be immediately informed for an update in the Embassy’s Payroll records.
The HOC maintained that Payment of salaries to the former ambassador and Deputy ambassador (Dr. S B Saccoh and Mr. Alie Badara Kamara) for September, 2008, even though a memo from the Secretary to the President indicated a stoppage of all such benefits from 31st August, 2008 was not deliberate or aimed at violating the instruction as contained in the memo from the Secretary to the President. He said that, it must be noted that Salary vouchers were prepared by the AGD and that the Embassy always informed that Department in respect of any additions or deductions in personnel in the embassy for immediate amendments to the Payroll.
In addition, the HOC said that the memo from the Secretary to the President for the stoppage of all such benefits from 31st August, 2008 was actually communicated to the Embassy after the payment of salaries to the two personnel as they were still in post in the Embassy.
27. Personnel matters
Out of a sample of 20 Personal Files requested only 14 were submitted. Some of the Files were not updated with details such as Leave Records, Retirement Records, Acceptance Letters, Promotion Letters, and Personal Emolument Records.
Files without personnel documents may militate against the assessment/appraisal of the employees concerned for up-grading/promotion and computation of retirement benefits.
The HOC should ensure, that all Personnel Files should contain all relevant documents pertaining to them, such as Appointment Letters, Acceptance letters, Promotion letters, Personal emolument records, Leave Records and Retirement Records
In his reply the HOC stated that our recommendation was noted and that Staff Personal Files had been updated with details such as Leave Records, Retirement Records, acceptance Letters, Promotion Letters, Personal Emolument Records etc. and in addition, Personal Files in respect of the under-mentioned personnel had been assembled and could be verified. He maintained that the under-mentioned personnel were no longer employese of the embassy.
Mr. Abu M Kamara – Security/Ambassador ‘s Residence;
Mr. Allieu Kamara – Cook/Deputy Ambassador;
Mr. Alusine N’jai – Steward/ Deputy Ambassador;
Mr. L Kandeh Sumah – Ambassador’s Driver;
Mr. Loache Vandi – Cleaner/Ambassador’s Residence; and
Mr. T Bargrey – Driver/Utility
28. Conditions of Service for local staff
Even though our foreign Embassies and Missions abroad rely to a large extent on local labour laws in the different localities in which they operate, it is imperative that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-orporation should design and implement appropriate Conditions of Service/Personnel Policy that could stand the test of time and serve as a guide and protection for the Sierra Leone Government in managing the affairs of locally employed staff.
It was therefore recommended that, the Foreign Ministry immediately put together a set of Rules/Conditions of Service to guide our Embassies/Missions and at the same time work side by side with the local labour laws in the various countries.
The HOC said that the ASSL’s observation and recommendation were noted and had been communicated to the Ministry.
29. Outstanding issues
The under-mentioned are still out-standing;
Bank Reconciliations were still not done by the Embassy;
Supporting documents and the relevant authority, in respect of Consular Fees totalling FG48,191,170.00 spent on utilities for the Mission without prior approval from the Ministry of Finance, were still not available for verification;
Supporting documents in respect of $112,535.00 withdrawn from Account No.1085011506 was not available for verification;
Although repairs and maintenance were being carried out on the Chancery, there was no evidence as to how the amount of $43,170.14 remitted to the Embassy on the 4th of May, 2005 for the rehabilitation of the Chancery was brought to account; and
Vehicle Log Books and Assets Register were not maintained.