The Audit Service Sierra Leone has in it 2020 Report asked the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to return over one hundred and forty-forty millions Leones into the consolidated fund and to submit evidence of repayment of those funds for audit inspection.

The monies to be returned that totaled that amount include: Le85,740,659 paid as salaries to the ministry for staff that didn’t exist in the ministry, and an amount of  Le58,680,655 fees collected by the ministry for issuance of export health certificates in 2020.

While demanding immediate refund of those funds, the auditors say that the ministry is in the habit of not transferring the revenue generated from the issuance of export health certificates into the Consolidated Fund which, they said, is a breach of Section 13(1) of the 2018 Public Financial Management Regulations.

According to the report, eleven staff who have either resigned, retired, died or been dismissed during the period were still maintained on the payroll until and receiving salaries on to November 2020, amounting to  Le85,740,659 at time the auditing was carried out.

The auditors considered the payment of salary to staff that do not exist in the Ministry as loss of public funds and therefore ordered that names of the ghost staff be removed from the payroll and the amount paid to them be recovered with evidence submitted to the auditors.

Responding to the auditors, the Ministry said they have been making promptly reports of all deaths of its personnel to the HRMO for deletion from the payroll and that the Accountant General’s Department always deduct from death gratuity or end-service-benefit of staff who continue to receive salary after death and, or retirement.

But the auditors said the Ministry did not produce evidence to audit the removal of the names of the 11 staff, and evidence for the deduction from the death gratuity or end-service- benefit for staff who continued to receive salary after death and, or retirement, noting that the issue remains unresolved.