By Ragan M. Conteh
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament who doubles as the chairman of the Public Account Committee (PAC) in parliament, Hon Segepoh Solomon Thomas has stated that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are in the habit of neglecting the audit service reports in the country.
According to Hon Thomas, the failure of the former candidate for the African Development Bank (ADB) from Sierra Leone, Dr Wilson Matthew Samura Kamara, is due to the country’s Audit Reports.
He said colleague candidates in other countries used the Sierra Leone Audit Service Report against Dr Samura Kamara and he was eliminated.
Hon Thomas pointed out that the audit reports are not only for local consumption but are internationally recognised ‘and will hinder our reputation internationally.’
The Deputy Speaker made the disclosure during the public hearing on the allegations and queries in the 2019 Auditor General’s Report against the Ministry of Finance.
The Hon Speaker warned all MDAs to henceforth put in place a system that all documents for transactions are kept so that once auditors come for verification such documents are accessible.
He said the period of delay on submitting documents for the audit exercise is unreasonable by every standard, adding that for any MDA transferring an official to another assigned job, all documents in the hands of the outgoing official must be submitted to incoming immediately for audit service.
The Deputy Speaker emphasised that, audits can place a state on international level, adding that Dr Samura Kamara lost the African Development Bank presidency because of the audit report, ‘and such should not continue.’
He said audit queries can be avoided if only officials in different MDAs perform their duties in a due diligent manner.
The Deputy Speaker also warned MDAs to have a special book where whenever an auditor comes to receive documents from a particular MDA he or she would sign that indeed he/she had received them.
He said times without number many MDAs are arguing that they submitted their documents to auditors while auditors say they did not receive the documents and allegations and queries keep coming up on audit reports.
He said the audit reports should be treated with utmost seriousness this time and that any MDA that defaulted when coming to the PAC in 2022 will be dealt with and will be kept behind bars for negligence.
He revealed that all documents that have to do with audit reports in 2021 should be submitted on time and must reflect the expenditure of a particular MDA.
The Hon Speaker furthered that on many occasions ‘it does not necessarily mean that MDAs are misappropriating monies but due to their negligence to submit documents to the Auditor General for verification.’
He therefore warned all heads of ministries especially vote controllers to supervise their sectors to avoid allegations when audit reports come out.