Over Daily Subsistence Allowance and Fuel Imprest… Auditors Query Vice President’s Office

By Lawrence Williams

The first Public Account audit report of the Julius Maada Bio SLPP-led Government published by the Audit Service Sierra Leone shows that over 140 billion Leones went unaccounted for by various ministries, departments and agencies; public enterprises and local councils for the financial year ended 31st December 2018.

The report states: “Losses in respect of cash irregularities identified in the course of our audit amounted to Le140.9 billion. These losses are in respect of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), Public Enterprises (PEs) and Local Councils (LCs).”

According to the auditors, the Le140.9 bn. losses is mainly attributed to “unsupported payments, revenue not banked, irregularities in payment of salaries to staff, statutory deductions not paid to the appropriate authorities, irregularities in payment of DSAs and other allowances, unexplained expenditure, payments without approval and expenditure returns not submitted, fuel not accounted for, imprest not retired, stores and fixed assets irregularities”.

The report further revealed that the 140.9 billion Leones identified does not include financial irregularities discovered from Sierra Leone embassies and other diplomatic missions.

In the Office of the Vice President, the auditors discovered that monies paid to some officers as daily subsistence allowance as well as monies allocated for the purchase of fuel to enable the Vice President travel to Ethiopia via Guinea were neither utilized for the intended purpose nor were the monies retired or refunded.

In their response, the Management acknowledged the findings of the auditors but said it was an “oversight”. The Management however stated that the monies will be recovered from the future travel entitlements of the concerned officers.
See excerpt from the report below.
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“There was a request from the Office of the Vice President, and a subsequent approval from the Office of the President for the Vice President’s team to travel to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, to attend the African Union Conference via Conakry, Guinea; where they were expected to conduct some official business.

As a result of the approval from the Office of the President, a total Daily Subsistence Allowances (DSAs) of US$9,600 was paid to officers who were to accompany the Vice President on the Freetown to Conakry and back, leg of his journey. In addition, an imprest of Le2,880,000.99 was allocated for the purchase of fuel for the vehicles on that leg of the journey.

However, according to records presented for audit inspection, the Vice President and few of the officers who were scheduled to accompany him to Addis Ababa flew from Lungi International Airport to Accra, and then to Addis Ababa, instead of driving to Conakry and flying from there to Addis Ababa as proposed.

This meant that those officers who had been given DSAs for their visit to Conakry did not actually travel to Conakry at all. Furthermore, it meant that the amount allocated for fuel was not utilised either.

*Official’s Response*

Management stated: “It was indeed true that the Vice President’s team did not travel to Addis through Conakry as you had observed. That was an oversight. Management did not recover the DSAs of US$9,600 and the fuel imprest of Le2,880,000.99 from the concerned officers; and we will however deduct these funds from the future travel entitlements of the same officers”.

*Auditor’s Comment*

We note the response by management. However, we are not aware of any financial management regulation that supports this proposal from management.
We therefore request that the funds should be repaid into the Consolidated Fund, or the Accountant General should recover the funds from the four officers in accordance with section 124(2) of the Public Financial Management Regulations of 2018.”

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