Recovery Strategy and Auditing

10 November 2010 at 02:47 | 534 views

Editor’s Note: The writer, Dylan Sogie-Thomas, is calling for recovery of billions of Leones identified in the Auditors General’s Audit report.

By Dylan Sogie-Thomas, London, UK.

Sierra Leoneans continue to suffer in poverty due to error, fraud, embezzlement and lack of committed staff in our Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

Audit service in Sierra Leone has been neglected even though our constitution gave mandate for the Auditor General’s department to audit government institutions both in and out of Sierra Leone. This department has fulfilled its duties even though it faced lot of challenges. However, the duty of recovery should be performed by the Anti-Corruption Commission or the Attorney General’s department by enforcing the law that will see that perpetrators are punished.

We now talk of Performance Audit and Performance Management as we used to talk about changing attitudes but people like us will help sensitise the public as to how government should consult them before taking decisions. Performance and productivity will improve when Ministers, Policy Advisers and civil servants change their behaviour. The first task is to carry out Structural reform by setting clear achievable goals and each employee should know what they will achieve by telling them when their salary is going to be paid. Government continues to boast of raising billions of Leones in taxes and so there is no excuse as to why civil servants continue to earn less than a bag of rice.

In Sierra Leone, Open Government Initiative, Attitudinal Behavioural Change and Office of the Diaspora continue to employ Sierra Leoneans based on political affiliations and these hired experts are paid between $3000-7000. I have no problem with fat salaries but I am against inappropriate lifestyles as these so-called experts are not living up to their contracts. They should be able to help government develop and implement strategies that can help Sierra Leone recover from its present failing status.

In Sierra Leone, most civil servants are paid Le 150,000 which is less than the cost of a bag of rice. A system should be in place where in government should ensure that the civil servant minimum wage is increased to Le 500,000 and this can be achieved by revamping recovery and strengthening the system against corrupt officials. In order to achieve Performance Management, government should reduce suffering by setting up incentives as part of performance planning. Government should also meet junior employees to negotiate and make sure that employees can reach set goals and exceed normal expectations about performance.

In the past few months I continue to read about National Revenue Authority raising billion of Leones. Therefore, civil servants deserve salary increases that will enable them to meet with their social costs. Performance management should not be used as a slogan but as a process wherein Policy Advisers design policies that will help each employee achieve their target, raise extra taxes and ensure that employees are rotated and promoted without linking such incentives to political rating scales.

Policy Advisers should be open to civil servants, media and unions in all cases not only when a crisis happens. They need to create an atmosphere where civil servants will feel free to complain to them and they should be ready to act to clear away barriers and not just talk about it but deal with the problem.

President Ernest Koroma as Chief of State should be aware that citizens are not happy and should be aware that most citizens believe that talk is cheap in governance but developing strategies and policies is expensive. The voices of Civil servants are very important in the evaluation and improvement process and no one Policy adviser can develop solutions for the public service.

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Attorney General Department

Recovery strategy should be developed and used to reclaim lost revenue. This is the job of highly skilled forensic accountants and Certified Fraud Examiners that have experience to examine government records and uncover potential problems in contract compliance issues, NASSIT procurement, unclaimed checks, duplicate payments, improperly applied taxes and waivers.

ACC can file to recover tax payers’ money that was identified as waste in the last audit report and the recovered funds can be used to improve salary by 50% and this can be maintained by ensuring performance contract compliance. ACC should ensure that contracts are properly negotiated, introduce quality standards in contracts, ensure that issues relating to overpayment and duplicate payments are prevented by developing strategies to prevent future exposure.