Over state Racketeering President Koroma In Big Trouble

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    Sierra Leone’s Governance Transition Report released today at State House by the Chairman of the Governance Transition Team, Professor David Francis has implicated former President Ernest Bai Koroma of conniving with other APC stalwarts to plunder the state with impunity.
    The report stated that former President Koroma and his cousin-John Bonoh Sisay were engaged in grand corruption and racketeering enterprises.

    See excerpt of the
    SierraLeone’s Transitional Report below:
    This is the Report of the Governance Transition Team (GTT) as mandated by His
    Excellency President Julius Maada Bio when he announced its setting up in a State House
    Press Release on 6 April 2018, two days after being sworn into office.

    An astonishing level of fiscal indiscipline and rampant corruption by the former APC
    Government of President Ernest Koroma had led to the near-collapse of Sierra Leone’s
    economy by the time the Government of President Julius Maada Bio was sworn into
    office.

    The economy was left burdened with external debt amounting to US $1.6 billion,
    domestic debt amounting to Le 4.99 trillion or US$658 million, and an exploded payroll
    (salaries and other compensation for government employees) of Le.2 trillion (US $263
    million) or 14.4% of the GDP. The national currency became moribund, trading at
    Le.7600 to a dollar.

    In addition, the Government owes vendors (for goods and services)
    an extremely large amount of US $1.4 billion. The State’s liabilities as at 30 March 2018 amounted to US $3.7 billion. Inflation as at March 2018 was 17.2. Overall, economic
    growth plummeted from 6% in 2016 to 3.7% in 2017. Consequent of the APC government’s inability to close the fiscal gap adhere to agreed actions under the Extended Credit Facility, the IMF suspended disbursement of both budgetary and balance
    of payment support to Sierra Leone in 2017.

    Other budgetary support agencies including
    World Bank, EU, and African Development Bank withheld their budgetary support from
    the second half of 2017 to date.
    Servicing these debts alone amounts to US $262 million per year. Against this huge
    financial burden, the domestic revenue for 2018 was projected to be a paltry US $539
    million. This is barely adequate to cover the Government’s recurrent expenditure, not to
    mention its commitment to poverty reduction programmes and investing in social
    services.

    Despite its rhetoric about ‘inclusive governance’, the former Government of President Koroma pursued a policy of ‘tribalism’ and regionalism in its recruitment and promotion of personnel at State House, in Government agencies and commissions, and in diplomatic postings. Ethnically favoured appointments constituted roughly 71 percent of all senior
    and middle-level appointments and postings to the country’s foreign missions made by former President Koroma’s Government. Ethnic favouritism was also reflected in the
    APC Government’s award of GoSL contracts, scholarships, commercial bank loans and regional distribution of development projects, with the neglect of Kenema and Kono in
    terms of roads infrastructure being most glaring.

    The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was politicised and made ineffective, and the
    Government routinely ignored the reports and recommendations of the Audit Service
    Sierra Leone.

    The Governance Transition Team has uncovered evidence of the former APC
    Government facilitating the inappropriate acquisition of state’s assets and properties by
    relatives and close friends of former President Koroma. There is also evidence of inflated Government contracts being inappropriately awarded to such relatives and friends. This unacceptable practice exacerbated poverty and illiteracy and helped erode confidence in
    the integrity of Government.
    Recommendations
    Immediately direct the Audit Service Sierra Leone to undertake special Audits of
    all MDAs to establish how public assets and funds have been utilised by the former APC Government, as provided for in Section 119 of the 1991
    Constitution; the Audit Service Act 2014 and Section 16 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016.
    Immediately institute a Judge-led Special Commission of Inquiry with a limited
    timeframe and mandate to recover all stolen or inappropriately converted state funds and other assets, including buildings, quarters, land and the hundreds of vehicles still unaccounted for (presumably stolen by officials of the APC
    Government).

    The Commission should recommend for prosecution former APC
    officials whose corrupt conduct is found to be particularly egregious. The Commission should also seek an explanation from former officials, under Section 26 of the Anti-Corruption act dealing with “unexplained wealth”, if it determines
    them to have accumulated such wealth during their time in public office.

    Audit Service Sierra Leone to carry out technical audits of the agencies relating to
    telecommunications, energy, and revenue (NRA) as well as NASSIT, the Bank of Sierra Leone and the two state-owned Commercial Banks, which have been
    embroiled in loan scandals over the past years.
    Review all middle-level and senior appointments made by the former APC
    Government in key agencies and departments to determine whether those
    appointments were merited and followed proper procedure, or were determined
    by ‘tribalism’ and patronage.

    Review all contracts and financial transactions entered into by the former APC
    Government in the six months before elections were held in March 2018. This should include the contract for Mamamah Airport, several defence contracts, the sale of Government quarters and other properties, and the purchase of vehicles for Paramount Chiefs.

    Freeze all payments to all local vendors above Le.400 million until special forensic audits of all the related contracts entered into by the former Government, and of money-generating and related agencies and commissions, including of their financial statements and technical capacity.

    Set up an Ethics Office at State House that would serve as the internal control
    mechanism dealing with the Code of Conduct for Ministers, Deputy Ministers,
    heads of Agencies, Commissioners, Heads of State Parastatals and Board of
    Directors; ethical improprieties; public service discrimination based on ethnicity
    and gender; complaints of sexual and other forms of harassments, and,
    particularly, conflicts of interests involving senior level officials.

    Authorise the Law Reform Commission to review the mandate of the 28 national
    Commissions with a view to reducing the number of Commissions and
    consolidating their mandates. The Commission should also draft a transition law
    that would help facilitate a smooth and orderly transfer of power from one elected
    Government to another by specifying the date of general and presidential
    elections and inauguration of President elect.

    Review both the recommendations of the Justice Cowan’s Constitutional Review
    Committee and the APC Government’s White Paper, which rejected almost all the
    key recommendations of the CRC. The review should include those sections of
    the constitution that address citizenship, with a view to granting full rights of
    citizenship to Sierra Leoneans who hold dual nationality.

    Pursue an active policy to recruit more women in government agencies and
    ministries. Women currently represent less than 10 percent of the workforce, in all
    Government ministries, agencies and commissions.
    By Maddieu A A T Kabbah

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