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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

For ‘Yabas’ Projects In Port Loko, Moyamba, Falaba & Karene…Agric Ministry In Le4.9 Billion Scam

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“Contrary to Section 30 of the PPA of 2016, there was no evidence that contract terms were fully met in the contact implementation of onion production in the Port Loko and Moyamba Districts for LOT (1) and Falaba and Karene Districts for LOT (2),”  the protector of the Public Purse stated

Documents revealed that in 2021, onion production was one project the Ministry embarked on that was piloted in four districts for which the Ministry signed contracts with two service providers for the implementation of the onion projects with a contract value of Le4,940,000,000.00{Le2,625,000,000: for LOT 1 (Port Loko and Moyamba districts) and Le2,315,000,000 for LOT 2 (Falaba and Karene districts).}

The report revealed that these projects were marred by several procurement irregularities, all relating towards the service providers not complying with the contract terms.

“For instance, although 90% (Le4,445,924,000.00) of the total contract cost had been paid to the service providers and the contracts duration completed, activities not undertaken by the service providers were valued at Le3,351,455,000. These activities include: land leasing arrangement construction of a multi-purpose building and development of the irrigation system.

The Auditors also visited the area where the project is said to be implemented.

“During our visits to the project sites in the districts, we noted that the communities graciously embraced the project but there was very little or no sensitization on deliverables in the contracts and strategy on project sustainability,” they revealed.

Documents highlighted that the projects were undertaken during an unfavourable planting season  and that as such, neither the service providers,  nor the communities could account for the project output.

“We recommended that the service providers be held accountable for the breach and should therefore execute the contracts in full. Otherwise, cost in respect of the contract terms not met must be immediately recovered from them and paid into the Consolidated Fund,” the report noted

The Official Response from Ministry’s Procurement Unit  is that the Project was supervised by the Ministry’s Monitoring and Evaluation Department and they are charged with the responsibility to properly manage/monitor the Project.

But according to the Auditor General, the Ministry did not provide evidence to indicate that the two contractors had been notified of the breach of the contract terms to fully perform their obligations, pointing out that no evidence was submitted to suggest the contracts had been fully completed.

“The signatories to the contracts on behalf of the Government, had overall responsibilities to ensure that the terms or clauses of the agreement are fully complied with. Therefore, the issues are unresolved,” the auditors noted.

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