Governance Transitional Report shows Environment Protection Agency not guilty of Financial Dealings in four yearsJuly 4, 2018
By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
The Government of Sierra Leone’s Governance Transitional Report that was set up by the President Maada Bio led administration to look into the past activities of government officials had exonerated the Environment Protection Agency from any financial dealings for at least during the past four years. According to the Governance Transitional Report Committee, they observed that the Environment Protection Agency “has not been found guilty, for the last 4 years either by the Auditor General’s or any other oversight agency for any mismanagement or financial discrepancies” in the country.
The Committee also observed from documents obtained from the Agency that “the EPA amongst other things has a routine system to check on the attendance and timely report of work of its staff and that in itself aids the capacity of the institution to adequately respond to its mandate”.
The Transition Team of thirteen Members visited the Agency and observed that the EPA has a total of 98 staff of which the Executive Chairperson has a statutory term of years limit, 54 are Permanent staff and the rest are either Temporal, Contract and/or Graduate interns or Volunteers. Although it is not a legal requirement, the report also “observed that the top management of the Environment Protection Agency is not regionally balanced” to which the Committee recommended for a review of the top management in relation to regional balance. According to the report, “staff of the institution are however professional with full capacity to fulfill its mandate. Women account for 26% for the institution’s staffing”.
What became clear during the investigation was that the EPASL “has not received funding from the government since 2013 and that the institution has wholly maintained itself from funds generated within its work and from donor funds”. The Committee recommended that “the EPA needs to submit all funds to the Consolidated Fund as required by section 110 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone and then be funded by agreed government subventions”.
The Committee was also abreast with key information to show that the Agency “appreciate the ban on timber logging and that they as an institution has no role to play on timber”.
Amazingly, the Committee also observed that “the Ministry of Finance has for the last 10 years not met the requirements/ or not done the necessaries in order for the institution to be given a 12 million dollars fund from the Adaptation Funds which is seated in its account for use”. The Committee recommends that the “Ministry of Finance needs to urgently consider meeting the requirements for securing the Adaptation Funds”.
According to the Transitional report, it became clear that a host of policies have been sent to the Ministry of Justice for review and or advice for subsequent legislations but no due consideration has been given for consideration. In this regard, the Committee recommended that “urgent consideration should be given to the policies sent to the Justice Ministry”.
The Committee also recommended that there is “need to regulate artisanal mining which is under the purview of the Ministry of mines in order to curb the environmental hazards same poses” with also the need to “have an Environmental Protection Court.
However, many people contacted state that the good footing of the EPASL in the Governance Transitional Report is gained through the wise decision of Madam Jattou Jallow, the former Executive Chairperson of the Agency who had headed the administration of the EPASL with standards since it was composed of in 2010 .
When contacted, Mrs Haddijatou Jallow, the former Executive Chairperson of the Agency was not surprised at the findings as during her stewardship they have always maintained the highest levels of integrity, transparency and accountability which is part of “the DNA of the institution”.