P’ment urged to act on 2019 Audit Report
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
A group of civil society organizations have called on the Sierra Leone Parliament to act decisively on issues raised in the 2019 Auditor General’s report.
The 2019 audit report, which was tabled in parliament on December 18, 2020 revealed massive irregularities and corruption in ministries, departments and agencies in the handling of state funds.
In a press statement issued on Friday January 15, 2020, Center for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), Institute for Governance Reform, (IGR), Budget Advocacy Network (BAN) and 50/50 Group Sierra Leone stated that the financial scandals revealed in the 2019 Audit across government agencies has once again exposed the underlying weaknesses in regulatory systems which continue to pose challenges to effective delivery of public services.
While acknowledging the recent efforts by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate findings and take action on the audit reports, the organizations said there is a lot more parliament can do.
“Like successive audit reports, we note the expressed concerns from sections of the public about the office of the Auditor General, and we hope that the parliamentary scrutiny of the 2019 reports would help resolve those concerns in ways that do not undermine or compromise the coveted independence of the Audit Service,” the release stated.
Although encouraged by the recent announcement by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to commence enquiries into both reports, the organizations express worry that successive parliaments have rarely given audit reports the attention they deserve because they failed to demand improved standards from MDAs or bring defaulters to book.
According to them, while the 2019 Audit did not reveal new forms or patterns of financial mismanagement or fraud, the public interest in the findings has been overwhelming.
“We strongly encourage the PAC to use the regulatory weaknesses identified in the audit to effectively scrutinize all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.”
They maintained that failure to take drastic action on the 2019 findings may send the wrong signals about the country’s commitment to effective public financial management.