FINANCIAL IRREGULARITIES AT SLMANovember 26, 2020
…PUBLIC FUNDS IN RUIN
BY ABU BAKARR KARGBO
President Julius Maada Bio’s New Direction Agenda is receiving lots of setbacks in the maritime sector, which some desperadoes are reportedly using as a gold-mine opportunity to fill their pockets with public funds. The current Executive Director, Paul Sobba Massaquoi may not be aware of the channels used to siphon funds meant for national development may because he may not have been shown the various illegal tunnels used to divert revenues collected for the government.
Internal Auditors have discovered over US$1.8 million revenue unaccounted for in 2019 and the report states that some of the events that led to the financial irregularities have not been stopped by the current administration. The Auditors have out rightly revealed that they have not been receiving the necessary documentation and financial records for a comprehensive audit exercise. “There is lack of transparency and accountability at the Maritime Administration,” an inside source observed and furthered that this contravenes the promises made by President Bio in different forums that his government is committed to transparency and accountability.
It could be recalled in his statement at State House Wednesday 15 August 2018; President Bio said his government is committed to transparency and accountability while addressing a delegation from the Open Government Partnership (OGP). He said his administration was doing the best they could to be open and accountable to the people to increase public confidence in governance, adding that the best way to govern a country was to move along with the people in the development process.
Unfortunately, this has not been practiced at the SLMA, according to an inside source who opined that authorities in that institution lack respect for auditors, which is why they have not been complying with auditing processes.
Outlining their scope and objectives, the SLMA Internal Auditors stated thus “Internal control, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide an entity with only reasonable assurance about achieving its financial reporting objectives. The likelihood of achievement is affected by limitations inherent to internal control. These include, amongst others, the internal controls that human judgment in decision making can be faulty, breakdown in internal controls can occur because of human failures, and controls can be circumvented by the collusion f two or more people or inappropriate management override in internal control”.
There are ongoing investigations by both the Anti-Corruption Commission and other authorities with regards to allegations of LE2.9 billion expended at the Maritime on a renovation, which the current SLMA administration is battling it out to save its neck.
Additionally, a source revealed that inspection of revenues reported in the maritime administration cashbook and the bank statements shows that a total of Le27.2 billion of the maritime revenues generated in 2019 were not deposited into the relevant bank account by officials of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration.
There are however several documents showing serial numbers of used receipt books that were allegedly collected by the Minister of Transport and Aviation to conceal information of corruption, which could have been used by the Internal Auditors. “The ACC has to trace some of these documents if only they want to succeed in their ongoing investigations,” a source advised.