Copyright: Sierra Herald
The Auditor Generals report for the management of government resources for the year 2014 is out and save for a few areas of improvement, the picture of a deliberate lack of financial control and gross impropriety remains in government ministries, departments and missions abroad.
The Auditor General Mrs Lara Taylor-Pearce has again published the body’s findings with regards to the reporting and the use of government assets and resources in the care of officials in charge of safe-guarding these resources. The picture for 2014 tells the story of a band of hardened and unrepentant criminals who flout laid down rules with impunity, divert the people’s money into the pockets of co-conspirators – giving a message out to all – that as long as they enjoy the protection of the smoke and mirrors rat at State House, they can get away with anything. Perhaps the frustration of dedicated officials at the Auditor General’s office could best be summed up in this observation contained in the report. These are in the main –
“A slow response by those charged with governance to our message of embracing their responsibility to guide and direct the development and performance of a strong system of internal controls in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). This includes improving their oversight function, demonstrating effective and ethical leadership, strengthening the audit committees and insisting on credible and regular reports on the finances and activities of MDAs.
A lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions in general government. This is evident from the inadequate response to the high levels of unauthorised, irregular as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure, as detailed in the audit report in other paragraphs indirectly supporting the opinion; and the weaknesses in performance management, which include a lack of credible and effective performance management systems across MDAs.
The action of the executive arm of Government towards the implementation of the recommendations in the report of the Auditor-General, a report debated and approved by Parliament, has not been very effective in achieving the goals of improving public financial management reforms in Sierra Leone. Therefore the incidences of financial indiscipline continue to persist. The challenge we face is that when our report is sent to Parliament our elected representatives, meeting in committee, do not always demand a full accounting from officials for the issues raised. Parliamentary promotion of transparency in public administration and good governance is perhaps not as effective as it might be. This has forced us to consider why we are not having sufficient impact when it comes to audit findings and recommendations.”