As a result, it was recommended that the Senior Human Resource Officer should inform these personnel of their availability for verification within 15 days of receipt of the report; otherwise, failure to report for verification will result in their names being sent to the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) for deletion from the ministry’s payroll.
Officially responding to the issue, the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Mines and mineral Resources mentioned that an updated staff list from the region showed that most of the staff were in the respective regional offices. He however noted that those in Freetown had been contacted and were ready for physical verification.
The Auditor in commenting stated that of the 32 unverified staff, eight were verified and one staff had gone on retirement leaving a balance of 23 unverified personnel. Hence the issue remains partly resolved.
In the same ministry, it was observed that negotiation of surface rent revenue conducted with sample of stakeholders, revealed that the participation of key land owners was not sought in the negotiation process of the terms and amount of the surface rent to be paid.
The report states that there was no evidence that a decision was taken by the Minister in consultation with the Minerals Advisory Board. Based on the interviews conducted with the beneficiaries and other government officials of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, and the National Mineral Agency (NMA), it was not clear who actually negotiated the surface rent payment with the mining companies.
It was recommended that the Director General of NMA must require the companies to involve the land owners and other beneficiary groups’ representatives in negotiating the terms and amount of the surface rent. Their involvement should be documented and evidence submitted to the NMA before licenses are issued or renewed for mining.
Officially responding, the Director General of NMA (DG-NMA) in his response said: “Section 34 of the Mines and Minerals Act, 2009 requires companies to negotiate surface rent rates with landowners. Apart from Sierra Rutile Limited (SRL) where the rate is actually stated in the SRL Act, the landowners for the other companies have been accepting and signing for payments received without a formal supporting document specifying the rates such as a land lease agreement. As already mentioned, this is what the NMA is now trying to address and this will take some time.”
The Auditor commented however saying “the recommendation was not addressed, therefore the issue still stands.”
The Audit 2016 report is being debated in parliament.