In a startling revelation, the 2022 national audit report has exposed a staggering loss of NLe38,226,990 million incurred by the government.
The report attributes this substantial financial setback to the breach of contract clauses between certain companies and a multitude of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
Published in December 2023 by the Audit Service Sierra Leone, the report sheds light on non-compliance issues leading to unpaid balances, distinct from domestic arrears detailed in financial statements.
Specifics on unpaid amounts highlight discrepancies across various MDAs, with notable figures including the Immigration Department at 429,627 USD, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security at 19,464,733 Leones, Ministry of Youth Affairs at 2,241,965 Leones, and Ministry of Finance and National Commission for Privatisation at 367,172 Leones.
Further complicating matters, some MDAs failed to meet financial obligations in both US dollars and Leones.
The Ministry of Development and Economic Planning owed 182,500 Leones and 5,000 USD, while the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Country Planning faced losses of 456,000 Leones and 50,000 USD.
Additionally, the audit report revealed that transit banks, entrusted to transfer collected revenues to the Consolidated Fund account at the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) within 24 hours, exhibited lapses.
Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, for instance, transferred 3,565,919 Leones related to income tax revenue collected in 2022, but the report indicates a lack of traceability in the Income Tax accounts held at the BSL.
While the National Revenue Authority (NRA) received commendation for advancements in revenue generation, the report highlighted persistent gaps in areas such as revenue assessment, collection, and reporting. Notably, the report suggests that the NRA’s failure to collect tax revenue and enforce penalties against defaulters is a major contributor to these identified gaps.