Millions of Dollars Unaccounted For. Former Defence DG Accused.
According to the 2015 Audit Report recently laid before Parliament, the Former Director General of the Ministry of Defence failed to substantiate the disbursement of huge sums of money with the necessary documentations required by the Auditors.
Several factors, ranging from the failure to comply with laid down procurement rules and the absence of proper documentation for the verification of the auditors was subscribed as reasons for this anomalies.
Many documents requested for by the auditors in support of several procurements made were not made available.
The supply of some 126 specialized and common use vehicles in two lots were not adhered to. The first lot entailed 69 common use vehicles, whilst the second lot consisted of 57. According to the contract agreement, these vehicles were to be supplied by a Mr. Alimamy Kamara representing West Star General Supplies and Mr. David Conteh of Davida Enterprises.
Ambiguity in the vehicle specification was discovered. 3 automatic transmission vehicles instead of manual ones were supplied. 2 Toyota Hiace ambulances were supplied instead of Toyota Hiace mini buses. The tonnage of 20 of the Atega Benz vehicles differed. 10 had 4 tyres at the rear whilst the other 10 had only two, yet they were priced the same amount.
Also 2 of the Atego vehicles were delivered defective and were returned but up to the time of the writing of the Audit report in September 2015 they were not disclosed in pre-inspection report.
According to the invoices, the costs of all vehicles are as follows – for West Star General Supplies the amount was US $ 10,654,165 and for Davida Enterprises it was US$ 5,058,368. The 2 Atego vehicles costing US$ 620,000 was not replaced by West Star.
At the time of delivery, only 49 vehicles out of the 126 were delivered as delivery note indicated – an outstanding balance of 77 vehicles are yet to be accounted for as no documentary evidence has been produced to indicate otherwise.
Furthermore, the Audit Report states that the vehicles were overpriced when compared with similar vehicles procured by other MDAs with similar specifications. This in effect meant that in that transaction alone, some Le22bn was lost to West Star (US$ 4,453,125 @ Le 4,958) and Le 8bn lost to Davida Enterprises (US$1,623,600 @ Le 4,958).
In the Auditor’s comment it was stated that there was complete disregard for the principle of Economy in the use of public funds by those acting on behalf of the government in the contract agreements.
When this reporter approached the Defence Ministry he was referred to Mr. Fofanah, the substantive holder and occupant of the seat of Director General at the time (now transferred to the Trade Ministry as Permanent Secretary). The former DG, on the issue of the vehicles, said that the vehicles delivered with delivery note were only 49, confirming the findings of the report but intimated that since it was the Ebola period, all the other vehicles delivered were hurriedly dispatched to serve the already precarious situation and that they were not able at the time of delivery to collect any delivery note.
Another issue raised with the DG was the construction of the Kambia Barracks. The DG said that the funds provided for that project was not used for the project but rather was used for other pressing projects at Gondama. He maintained that a decision was reached with a team that was set up to see to the implementation of the project and it was agreed that Gondama, an already existing barracks that had developed problems, was more in need of the funds than the Kambia one, which was meant to be constructed afresh. He however acknowledged not getting back to the Ministry of Finance to inform them about the change of plans. He said that since it was meant for the development of the military, its usage on another military project was not envisaged to be a problem.
©THE TIMES SL NEWSPAPER