A review of bank statements revealed that withdrawals of Le3.1 billion (Le3,190,815,029) made from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) imprest account held at the Bank of Sierra Leone were not supported by appropriate documentation.
It was recommended that the concerned personnel of the respective directorates and programmes must ensure that the relevant supporting documents such as payment vouchers and relevant supporting documents such as invoices, signed list of recipients, receipts, are submitted for audit inspection, otherwise, the full amount should be refunded into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
However, the Ministry submitted supporting documents to the Auditors for payments totalling Le1,537,742,100 which was duly verified leaving a balance of Le1,653,072,929.
Of the Le1,537,742,100 payments verified, withholding tax totalling Le19,341,875 were deducted from payments made to suppliers but evidence of payment to the NRA was not submitted for audit.
The Permanent Secretary said that the Auditor General’s recommendations had been noted for necessary action and promised that the Programme Managers/officers implementing the programmes will submit liquidations to the Accounts Unit for proper record keeping.
In addition, withholding tax of Le5,087,500 was not deducted from payment made to SALWACO for the drilling and construction of boreholes. It was observed that the Ministry paid SALWACO Le92,500,000 (50percent of the contract price) for the drilling, construction of boreholes and installation of two 5000 litre water tanks. Upon their verification it revealed that two 2000 litre water tanks were installed instead of the two 5000 litre water tanks paid for.
The Auditors also noted that there was an inadequate operational support to the School Feeding Secretariat. The Ministry through the President ’ s Recovery Priorities and with support from development partners re-introduced the school feeding programme in 2016.
A School Feeding Secretariat that facilitates the operations of this activity was set up with a Director appointed as head. Interviews with key personnel revealed that since the office space for the School Feeding Secretariat was a rented structure, the Ministry did not provide monetary allocation to the Secretariat to meet its operational costs such as electricity, cleaning, office stationery.
It was recommended that the Director of the School Feeding Secretariat in collaboration with the Permanent Secretary of Primary and Secondary Education should take necessary actions to ensure operational costs of the Secretariat are covered in the Ministry ’ s budget and funds provided for the Secretariat’s operations.
The Permanent Secretary stated that subventions were paid to the school feeding programme and evidence of payment voucher was available for inspection.
However, evidence of payment vouchers for payments of subventions to the School Feeding Secretariat was not submitted for audit inspection.