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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Over Le1.4 Billion Procurement Fraud At Ministry of Social Welfare

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Despite efforts by the Anti-Corruption Commission under the leadership of Francis Ben Keifala to continue to whitewash the Audit Report, the recent report exposed huge corruption in Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA).

The report exposed a huge procurement cartel in the Ministry of Social Welfare under the leadership of Baindu Gassama as the political head.

According to the report, even though the business name of a supplier was changed on 22nd August 2019, they observed that the business names were intermittently used for the award of contracts for the supply of goods and services.

As a result of that, they (the Auditors) observed that the  Ministry awarded a contract worth Le1,451,250,000 on 25th August, 2021 for the supply of skills training tools for persons with disabilities to “IN 2 Sierra Leone Ltd.” in 2021, even though the contractor’s business name had been changed on 22nd August, 2019 to “IN 2 Sierra Leone Travel Limited”.

“Moreover, we noted that the Freetown City Council certificate attached to the bid document was issued on 11th August 2021, while the evaluation was done on 9th August 2021, disqualifying “IN 2 Sierra Leone Ltd.” for the contract award,” they observed.

That a contract worth Le85,581,681.00 in respect of the Minister’s travel to the United States of America was awarded on 19th October, 2021 to “IN 2 Sierra Leone Travel Ltd.”

“However, the NASSIT clearance, NRA tax clearance and Freetown City Council certificate submitted were for “IN 2 Sierra Leone Ltd.” instead of “IN 2 Sierra Leone Travel Ltd.”

The auditor recommended that the procurement processes are fair, transparent and competitive to ensure value-for-money in public procurement and that the Ministry desists from awarding contracts to “IN 2 Sierra Leone Ltd.” as its business name had been changed to “IN 2 Sierra Leone Travel Ltd.”

But the Permanent Secretary responded that the business registration of ‘’IN 2 Sierra Leone Limited’’ was submitted during the bidding process, adding that at the time of the bid opening, it was ‘’IN 2 Sierra Leone Limited’’ that was received.

He furthered that the supplier was informed and he said he had two companies: ‘’IN 2 Sierra Leone Limited’’ and ‘’IN 2 Sierra Leone Travels.’’

“However, this has been noted and appropriate action will be taken accordingly,” the Permanent Secretary stated.

The Auditors responded that the comment of the Permanent Secretary was noted.

“It is worth noting that the business name had been changed from “IN 2 Sierra Leone Ltd.” to “IN 2 Sierra Leone Travel Limited” on 22nd August, 2019,” the Auditors noted

The Auditors also concluded that “IN 2 Sierra Leone Limited” was not qualified for the contract award as observed during the audit.

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