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Sierra Leone Business: Chief Administrator, Finance Officer to pay back Le7.7m unbanked revenue

Own source revenue collected for which receipts were not issued amounting to Le7.7million (Le7,732,883) were reportedly not banked by the Kenema City Council.
In their defense the current Finance Officer John Kaipumoh told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing in Kenema on Friday August 17, that this issue was as a result of some problem in the PETRA system. “In our official response to the query we said that investigation for revenue on property tax reveal that the wrong fiscal period was selected.”
Hon. Lahai Marrah interjected saying that the query is not about the system but revenue collected and not banked, and asked whether they have a receipt to prove that the funds were banked?
Kaipumoh replied that they post through the cashbook, “if you are capturing the figures you take directly from the cashbook and by that you can put in figures that are not relevant” he said.
However, the former Finance Officer David Kallon said that is not the issue as they had encountered problems with staff at the finance department as most of the time the Finance Officer does everything.
PAC Chairman Hon. Segepoh Thomas then ruled that both CA Senesie and FO Kallon pay back the said amount as against 24th August, 2018 and take the receipt to Freetown. Failure to do so he said shall be at their peril.
“At the start of the hearing you said you were at the Council and capacitated enough to provide answers to all the queries” said Hon. Thomas to CA Senesie when she questioned why she has to pay for something done by the former CA.
The Committee has also referred a query for receipt and paying slip amounting to Le30million to be paid to the Council by the Contractor Marie Momoh as per contract agreement for cold room to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
Hon. Thomas questioned CA Senesie for the receipt and paying-in-slip for that amount and she responded that she doesn’t even know her as she has since abandoned the facility. “Even when I came in 2017, she had this contract to run the water purification facility and we have invited her but she did not come.”
Kallon also stated that as far as that particular contract is concerned he has never seen the contract, “I was here, and understood that she was contracted except that we have to look into this issue a little further.”
“The Council have a contract and no one knows anything about it, if the CA and FO are saying that they don’t have any knowledge about the lady and contract, this is scary. You must ensure that you have documents and details as we are going to refer this issue to the ACC for further investigations” said Hon. Thomas.
Another issue to be examined by the ACC is the inadequate control of the distribution and use of fuel, repairs and maintenance cost, as there were no fuel chits, usage reports, registers and distribution lists to justify the distribution and use of fuel amounting to Le162million (Le162,496,163).
There were no operating records such as logbook to show how the sum of Le63million (Le63,351,250) was spent on the servicing and repairs of motor vehicles, motorbikes and generators during audit verification.
Review of the Council’s property cadaster revealed that evidence to confirm payments made by property owners amounting to Le556million (Le556,515,593) was not submitted for audit inspection.
Principal Auditor Mohamed Mustapha said that the Council should have used the duplicate copy of the demand notices issued to write a receipt as per the bank statement ahead of the depositing of the bank slip by the taxpayer.
Hon. Thomas warned Council staff that in future audits of issues like these are highlighted no matter the quantum of difference even if it is above a hundred million Leones the person responsible will pay personally failing which they will order they be removed from office and benefits withheld.
Adding that if they pay into the Council’s account and do not come for receipt, they must assume that they have not paid as there is no proof of payment in the form of a bank slip. Also that until that is done they still owe the Council and they must be pursued.
“We want to see your bank statement, cashbook, financial statement and demand notices not later than 24th August, 2018 at 10am. We want a comprehensive report when you are coming to Freetown detailing the amount of property tax arrears for 2016” said Hon. Thomas.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Wednesday August 20, 2018.

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