The 2016 Audit report has exposed the weak or loopholes in the government payroll structure for consultants who at the same time are being employed by Government Ministries and Departments (MDAs).
According to the report, the government of Sierra Leone operates centralized payroll payment system which has been characterized by numerous weaknesses.
Under this process, the report states that, most Accounting Officers perceived their role within the payroll payment process as implementing the assignment on behalf of the Human Resources Management Office (HRMO) but without full responsibility and accountability on what happens in the process.
The report noted that payroll irregularities committed were mainly in respect of consultants on open-ended contracts and staff receiving salaries twice from the consolidated fund.
The report furthered that one staff received salary amounting to Le68, 294,317 as a consultant and Le 15,049,696 as an employee of an MDA in the month of February 2016- thus a potential salary overpayment.
That another staff received a net salary amounting to Le257, 328,987 twice in the month of February 2016, also indicating a potential salary over payment of Le257, 328,987.
According to the report, a review of the payroll for consultants revealed that total amount paid as wages and salaries amounted to Le43.34 billion, while noting that some of them paid only 5% withholding tax whilst others paid no tax as payroll vouchers.
That the review of the payroll database for the months of April, August and December 2016 revealed that payment to the tune of 6.74 billion were paid to consultants without evidence of contract agreement or extension letters.
In addition, the report states, that two employees of OGI on the 3rd of May 2016 received a memo for the non-renewal of their contracts of appointments, saying that without any evidence of renewal or extension letters, the said employees were paid amount totaling Le32.2 million and Le5.2 million respectively.
“There is the risk that government will continue to pay consultants whose services are not required anymore thereby leading to a misuse of government funds. The Permanent Secretaries of the various MDAs, in collaboration with officials of HRMO, should review the terms of references of these consultants in order to determine their relevance and possible extension and/or termination of their contracts,” noted the report.