By Lawrence Williams
The latest audit of Covid-19 funds managed by the National Covid-19 Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) reveals that NaCOVERC has a huge liability of Le148 billion as compared to assets worth Le61 billion. The report says that NaCOVERC was unable to provide a plausible explanation for how this deficit occurred, so the matter remains unresolved.
The NaCOVERC’s official response is reflected in the report, which states that a correspondence has been sent to the president and Ministry of Finance concerning this issue. A copy of it was given to the auditors, but it did not persuade them to give it an unqualified audit opinion.
This is the second audit of Covid funds managed by NaCOVERC. The first audit, covering March to June 2020, revealed egregious accountability issues that prompted the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to take action.
As a result, this latest report (July to December 2020) did not highlight the megascopic issues of theft, misappropriation and embezzlement that have plagued state institutions in this country, and as such has not piqued public interest in a way that would ignite fire and fury.
The auditors also noted a serious concern that the Parliament has not yet published its report on the review of the first Auditor-General’s report on the management of the Covid funds, thus making it difficult for the Audit Service Sierra Leone to follow up on its recommendations.
Meanwhile, the ACC says it has commenced “examination of the report to identify areas of swift intervention”.