By Sylvanus Blake
The Complaint Review Committee (CRC) of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), under the leadership of the Commission’s Director of Intelligence and Investigation, Evelyn Kuyateh, has begun customized engagements with Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Freetown, with a view of sizing up and assessing their responses to referred complaints from the ACC.
This is informed by the mandate of the Commission to take all necessary measures for the prevention, suppression, control and combating of corruption as provided for by the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, as amended in 2019. It is also borne out of the desire to sustain the confidence and trust of the public in the Commission and other public sector institutions. As a result, the ACC do refer complaints that do not pass the threshold for full-blown corruption allegations and or do not fall under her mandate, to the appropriate and competent MDAs for action. The Commission therefore often demands for feedbacks on the status of such complaints, as some of the MDAs have not been promptly and adequately responding to referred complaints.
While meeting with the Director General of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NaSSIT) at the NaSSIT Head office in Freetown, MrsKuyateh said the ACC holds in high esteem coalition building and partnership in the fight against corruption.
She said though the referred complaints are not clear-cut corruption allegations against the MDAs, she encouraged MDAs heads to treat the concerns seriously and address them promptly, adding that such reports reflect public perceptions and concerns over the services and work of the respective institutions. “If MDAs are to continue to better their public image and reputation, they must learn to address public and customer concerns with the seriousness and urgency they deserve,” she said.
Peter Baio Kamara, Report Centre Manager ACC, informed the MDAs engaged that public concerns referred to them by the ACC for action are accounted for by the ACC and as such the ACC will continue to encourage and admonish them to be prompt and decisive in their handling of same.
Patrick Martin George Deputy Director of the Corruption Prevention Department, ACC, told the MDAs that concerns ranging from non/delay in payment of benefits, wrongful dismissals, unfair treatments, other labour, employee and client right issues and to poor service delivery are widespread. He said if the policies, procedures and systems of MDAs are allowed to work unhindered, most if not all of these concerns will be averted.
“When systems do not work, the risk of corruption will be higher.
The Director General of NaSSITFuadDaboh expressed delight at the engagement, which will continue to support public institutions, and build and sustain strong internal control systems. He said NaSSIT is committed to fully addressing concerns referred to it by the ACC, adding that many of such reports have already been addressed.
He referenced the machinery set up by the institution to facilitate quick responses to public queries, such as the Benefit Processing Committee, which is responsible for addressing concerns around payment of benefits; the Special Social Security Court that seats every Saturday to address issues of non-compliant institutions with two dedicated Magistrates; and the Appeals Tribunal.
MrDaboh called on the public, especially their clients to communicate their grievances and complaints to him and other partners like the ACC and the Office of the Ombudsman. “My office is always open to hear your stories and address them,” Mr. Daboh stated.
The team, over the past two weeks beginning 6th April 2021, has engaged the leadership and management teams of the Ministries of Education and Labour, the Teaching Service Commission, NACOVERC and NaSSIT, respectively; while six other institutions are lined up for the coming weeks.