• September 12, 2023

ECSL, SLBC, Others on the Spotlight Again

ECSL, SLBC, Others on the Spotlight Again
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As the country’s electoral commission ECSL continues to battle with credibility issues that has to do with the June 24 2023 presidential, parliamentary, mayors, chairpersons and councillors elections that considerable amount of monies by government and development partners  was filtered into the accounts of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, the Audit Service Sierra Leone Information, Education and Communications Officer, Martin Sandy has made public the names of government agencies that have vehemently refused to submit their financial statements for auditing. The Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) and the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) occupying the apex of the published list by ASSL.

“The SLBC, ECSL, Sierra Leone Housing Corporation, Sierra Leone Block Concrete Products Limited, Sierra Leone State Lottery Company, Sierra Leone Telecommunication Company”, the list reads adding that these agencies should account for huge amount of monies allocated to them by the Finance Ministry as budgetary allocations or subventions from the government.

The IEC Officer referenced section 86(1) of the Public Financial Management Act of 2016, which mandated that within three months after the accounts of a financial year are closed at the end of a complementary period mentioned in section 44, the vote controller of every entity in subsection (3) of section 86 public agencies shall submit to their respective annual financial statements to Auditor-General for the financial year.

Sandy furthered that section 118 (1) (b) of the Public Financial Management Act of 2016 which states that; “The annual Financial Statements of a public enterprise shall be audited by the Auditor-General or other auditors appointed by him.

The refusal by both the ECSL and the SLBC speak volume to the facts that those government subvented agencies are dominated by pro-SLPP civil servants the more reasons they remain defiance to comply with the rules of procedures governing the auditing of public finance expenditures.

Before the naming and shaming of those agencies, ECSL has over the weeks in hot water following the credibility of the disputed presidential result that the main opposition party All People’s Congress (APC), domestic and foreign elections observers in their various preliminary reports raised eyebrow on questioning the transparency in the tallying and tabulation processes.

Despite calls from various quarters of the opposition, Civil Society Organisations and the international community for National Returning Officer, Mohamed K. Konneh to release elections data, the Party Pikin mentality of the chairman has not allowed him to do the needful, hence the reason the United States of America visa restrictions affect Konneh as a result of his role in undermining the country hard won democracy.

ECSL in their level of preparedness for the 24 June elections engagement that attracted the media, CSOs among other relevant stakeholders, disclosed that government allocated enough financial support to conduct the elections with record breaking irregularities at critical stages of the process ever in the history of the country.

With such timely disbursement of funds for the elections, ECSL in return should have also submitted their financial statement on time for auditing as mandated by the Financial Management Act 2006.

The state broadcaster, SLBC refusal to comply with existing laws regarding auditing of the agency’s financial statement does not come as a surprise at all to many.

Since last month, Director General of the SLBC, lawyer Joseph Egbenda Kapuwa is in the midst of one billion Old Leones corruption scandal that the Anti-Corruption Commission ACC is currently investing.

The alleged amount was reportedly allocated to the for SLBC studio upgrade for the June 24 election coverage.

According to letter addressed to the Minister of Information and Civic Education by anonymous SLBC staff, states that ‘Your Auradical Brotherhood relationship with the SLBC Director General, Joseph Egbenda Kapuwa and his sycophantic action as evidence in his July 31 2023  Facebook post, are sufficient to suspect as reason for such lethargy’.

Coming from a neutral point of view, its goes without saying that the alleged financial mismanagement atmosphere at the SLBC remains dusty which can be hardly be unconnected with the corporation’s refusal to submit its financial statement to the ASSL for audit.

With the ruling ‘party pikin’ mentality entering the fabric of the Bio led civil service administration, newly established agencies like the National Investment Board and the National Asset Commission have also decided to borrow a leaves from older institutions, since the inception of both agencies, they have also refused to submit financial statements for auditing thereby rubbishes the much trumpeted one sided fight against corruption evident in the paopa administration.

Weather the ECSL and the SLBC will later submit their respective financial statements or not, their credibility in the said instances remains a big question.

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