Documentary evidence from Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance shows that the country’s Chief Justice, Desmond Babatunde Edwards (PIN#102462) and 60 other political appointees have still not paid withholding taxes on rent allowances paid to them in the five years of the Maada Bio administration.

Africanist Press discovered that the cumulative rent allowances paid to the listed 60 political appointees between June 2018 and December 2022 alone amounted to Le25 billion.

However, applicable withholding taxes to the tune of Le5.09 billion were not deducted from the rent allowances paid to the Chief Justice and the 60 other political appointees of the President.

On average, Africanist Press discovered that failure to accurately deduct applicable taxes from rent allowances paid to the Chief Justice and these 60 officials in the sample list resulted in an annual loss of Le1.25 billion in revenues from taxes on rent allowances alone.

In the case of Chief Justice Edwards, the total rent allowance paid amounted to a cumulative Le1.093, 333,335.00, from which the applicable withholding taxes of Le174,933,332 were never deducted.

In total, Africanist Press discovered that withholding taxes to the tune of Le5,009,594,876 were never deducted from the cumulative rent allowances of Le25,105,646,812.00 paid to all listed political appointees in the last five years.

Apart from the non-payment of withholding taxes, we also found that payments to some of the listed officials recurred twice in the payroll records; suggesting the possibility of double payments for rent allowances in the same year.

A recent Africanist Press review of new payroll documents and financial correspondence of the government of Sierra Leone show evidence of the Maada Bio administration’s continuous expansion of the payroll to reward leading members and key supporters of the governing Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

These rewards for party members, friends, and loyal supporters include promotions, higher salaries, and added allowances.

In the last five years, regular civil service employees have continued to earn lower wages despite a new internal policy on promotion and salary equity approved on 1st October, 2020.

The has resulted in an ever-widening payroll gap between political appointees and other civil servants.

Our investigation equally found that despite government claims of ongoing increases in the salaries of certain sectors of civil service workforce, the conditions of service, including salaries of regular civil servants and public sector workers, have remained largely unchanged and abysmal in the last five years despite the escalating commodity prices and high cost of living. We found perennial lower salary structures and disparities across all major departments, where people with higher qualification and those doing highly technical jobs are paid as much as ten times less than the dozens of political appointees in the president’s office and the judiciary.

Thus, over the course of our investigation, we have found the government’s claim that the nation’s ballooning wage bill is due solely to salary increases for existing public employees and the hiring of extra nurses and teachers to be false. We also found the government’s claim that ongoing salary disparities can be attributed solely to the previous government to be without merit given the large number of political appointees, who were grafted on the public payroll in the last five years.

We provide below the sample list of these political appointees, including details of the rent allowances paid to them and the applicable taxes that were never deducted.