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Sierra Leone News: Focus 1000, Action Plus complied with objectives

Action Plus and Focus 1000 two local non-governmental organisations (LNGO) who were part of a five CSO audit are judged “to have complied with the objectives for which they were set up”. An audit review was prompted by both the Audit Service Sierra Leone’s (ASSL) mandate and a request from the Office of the President into the financial and non-financial activities of CSOs. According to the Auditor General, Lara Taylor-Pearce, the review was undertaken in order to ascertain whether donor funds and other resources allocated to CSOs were utilised for the intended purposes and in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. Amongst the activities reviewed were to ascertain whether CSOs were operating within the objectives for which they were set up, their internal control systems instituted if they were robust enough to handle the financial and non-financial management requirements of organisations; if they have the ability to continue operations into the foreseeable future and whether the balances in the books of accounts were accurate and complete. Focus 1000 was established in 2012 to invest in the first 1000 days of a child’s life – the period from conception to the child’s second birthday and prioritised three key intervention areas maternal and child nutrition, teenage pregnancy and utilisation of services. The Auditor General noted that the activities of Focus 1000 were geared towards improving maternal and child nutrition, teenage pregnancy, utilisation of health services by conducting series of research, community engagements and advocacies amongst others. “Focus 1000 complied with the accounting systems and controls set forth in its programme and financial management policies, processes and procedural manual as well as donor requirements and policies,” the Auditor General said. They also observed that the organisation was in compliance with the relevant sections of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) Act 2001, the government’s local content policy, the government’s Child Rights Act, the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2008 and the Income Tax Act, 2009 (as amended). In addition to their internal control systems, “the records management system was adequate. The organisation had a system in place for the recording of business transactions and employee’s records were updated on files,” the audit revealed. “However, we noted that the organisation experienced a fluctuating trend in the financial flow of its operations.” The report stated that interviews with some of the beneficiaries of Action Plus confirmed that they have benefited from the objectives for which the organisation exists and that the organisation was in compliance with MoFED NGO’s desk requirements for the period under review as documents such as its constitution, audited financial statements and valid income tax clearance amongst other documentation. “Action Plus has demonstrated proper accountability and transparency to its donors and project beneficiaries, by providing periodic reports to them on the implementation and impact of the programme activities” the Auditor General said. Action Plus was established in 2002 and named ″Sierra Leone Youth in Crisis″ (SLYIC). It was founded by youth activists who converged in Bo to discuss the way forward on youth issues at the end of the second grant by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to a youth serving consortium ″Campaign Against Violent Events″ (CAVE). The reason for establishing this organisation was to carve out a structure specialising in the provision of youth driven services to traumatised youth emerging from the civil war. The organisation it says, partly complied with the laws of Sierra Leone such as the NRA Act 2002, NASSIT Act 2001, Child Rights Act 2007 and the Income Tax Act, 2000 (as amended), even though there were areas for improvements such as PAYE not fully paid over to NRA and staff without NASSIT numbers. During their audit, they found out that the organisation has some controls over certain areas such as the accountability of transactions, effective file management system, and involvement of victims of HIV/AIDS as part of the committees. But however, noted that there is room for improvement in other main areas as there was lack of segregation of duties among staff and staff appraisals were also not done. Action Plus maintained a secured filing system, standard entry forms were used for recording cash receipts, cash disbursement and journal entries into the general ledger.

ZJ/14/1/19

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Tuesday January 15, 2019.

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