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Sierra Leone News: Ineligible NGOs benefitted from over Le724m duty waivers

State auditors have in their 2016 report discovered that duty waivers were given to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) amounting to Le724,229,845.80, either because they were not registered or they did not renew their registration, which is a prerequisite of the law that guides the approval of duty waivers.
These duty waivers, the Auditor General’s Annual report said, were given to a number of organisations and/or individuals in 2016 who were not included in the registered/updated list of duty waivers by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED).
Section 100.5 of the second schedule of the General Exemptions from Import Duty of the External Tariff of the Republic of Sierra Leone states amongst other things that all Non-Governmental Organizations registered with MoFED are entitled to duty free privileges in accordance with the rules governing their operations.
The audit recommended that the Financial Secretary should ensure duty waivers are only granted to eligible individuals, institutions and non-governmental organizations so as to avoid the potential loss of revenue.
A review of the approved procurement plan, payment vouchers and other supporting documents revealed that payments were made to service providers for goods and services totalling Le3.8 billion.
“It is apparent that management reviews on transactions before they are authorised is either not done or it is only done for few transactions. Our review further revealed that procurements of goods and services are not centralized,” the report said.
The auditors were told that each time a department desires to procure a good or service, a request is forwarded to the head of procurement by the departmental head. The procurement unit then procures and submits same to the requesting department.
This implies that procurement is not centralised but disaggregated and may have severe consequences on the budget formulation and implementation. It was recommended that the Principal Deputy Financial Secretary should ensure that the procurement officer provide a valid contract to support these transactions.
“The possibility of bulk buying should be considered. This will bring about serenity in the procurement process rather than departments left on their own.”
The Principal Deputy Financial Secretary stated that a valid contract to support transaction totalling Le3.8 billion to service providers was available for verification and that bulk buying will be implemented immediately.
During the verification exercise valid framework contracts were provided to support the Le3.8 billion transactions. However, the principle of contracting on behalf of the entire ministry (bulk buying) has not been done and this has persisted.
“The issue should therefore be brought to the attention of those charged with governance so that bulk buying can be instituted with immediate effect in order to achieve value for money” the Auditor recommends.
ZJ/2/7/18
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Tuesday July 03, 2018.

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