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Sierra Leone News: DSTV cost should be recovered from SLEWRC Commissioners salaries- Auditor General warns

The Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce during her audit into the self-improvement of the Terms and Conditions of Members of the Sierra Leone Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission (SLEWRC) has observed that members were provided with DSTV service with subscriptions fully paid for a year. The Commission resolved in a meeting held on 13th July 2016 to effect such action as the members of the Commission she said believed that this facility was covered by section (7) of the Sierra Leone Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission Act, 2011 which provides that, “the Chairman and the other members shall be paid such remuneration, fees and allowances and shall be reimbursed by the Commission for any expenses incurred in connection with the discharge of their functions as the Commission may determine”. In the opinion of the Auditors, DSTV service was not a necessity and “it was irrelevant to the efficient and effective discharge of the responsibilities” of the members of the Commission. She however, recommended that the members of the Commission should consider economy, efficiency and effectiveness in their dealings with the Commission’s funds as a result therefore; the cost of this facility should be recovered from the members’ fees and salaries. The Director General replied to the query saying that in setting the terms and conditions of the commissioners, the Commission consulted with NATCOM which is another utility regulator and learnt that DSTV facility was among the fringe benefits enjoyed by their commissioners. “As regulators aiming to work in line with international standards, commissioners will use this facility to expand on their horizon which will translate to improve efficiency of the Commission. With regards the recommendations of the auditors, the Commission will meet to discuss them” he said. The audit team also discovered that there was no structured financial mechanism in place that checked the accuracy and completeness of transactions relating to levies and license fees.  A proper invoicing system was also not established to facilitate the production of pre-numbered application forms. Evidence was not made available to confirm that application forms were reviewed before licenses and permits were granted to applicants. The licenses were also not stamped or signed after they had been processed. The Official Use sections of the Packaged Water Producer License Application forms were not completed when applications were processed. The Auditor General however, recommended that a proper accounting system capable of generating pre-numbered invoices and receipts should be put in place and an account listing of levies and licenses should be reviewed by an independent officer of the Commission on a regular basis. Application forms should be stamped and signed before licenses and permits are issued and the “For Official Use‟ section of the Packaged Water Producer Licence Application form should be properly completed. “The Commission is currently operating a provisional licensing system that requires only minimal printing of application forms” the Director General said. The application documents he said are part of the license rules and procedures that will soon be tabled before Parliament. Once parliamentary approval process is completed the version attached to the license rules will be used.The Commission he added intends to make these forms available online thereby making pre-numbering them irrelevant. All applications received by the Commission will be given a case number that will be replicated on all other documents like the invoice, receipts and license certificate. The Commission is in the process of recruiting a Compliance Officer and an Internal Auditor who will be charged with the responsibility of independently reviewing these applications and finance related documents.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Thursday February 07 2019.

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