Meanwhile, following the conduct of the 2016 audit of government parastatals, ministries, departments and agencies, issues with regard flouting of public procurement procedures and other financial anomalies were unearthed at the Office of the Vice President at Tower Hill in Freetown.
According to the ASSL 2016 report, payments made for procurement were not in the procurement plan. Payment vouchers revealed that a total of Le29,464,000 (twenty nine million, four hundred and sixty four thousand Leones) was disbursed on the procurement of internet service.
The report adds that upon examination of the approved procurement plan, it was observed that these payments were not part of the approved procurement plan. It was recommended that the Secretary to the Vice President should provide an explanation why the procurement committee (at VP’s Office) failed to update their procurement plan and notify the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development accordingly.
In response to this query according to the ASSL 2016 report, the Secretary to the Vice President said: “In a Budget/Procurement Committee Meeting held on 16th March 2016, it was decided that an outstanding sum of Le 29,464,000 be paid to Afcom S.L. Ltd. This was in respect of quarters 3 & 4 of FY 2015. This payment was not captured in the procurement plan for 2016, but it was management’s decision since it was the final payment to Afcom S.L. Ltd., due to the inception of the fiber-optic cable that was in use. The minute of the committee was forwarded to the Minister of Finance.”
In her comments however, the Auditor General stated that the minutes of the Budget Committee was presented and examined during verification but that the payment for the amount owed in respect of internet service was part of the 2016 approved budget. It added that however, it was not incorporated into the 2016 procurement plan and as a result, the procurement plan submitted for audit inspection was not fully integrated into the budgetary process and therefore the issue is remains unresolved.
Members of Parliament will debate this above report anytime now.