The Administrative inquiry done by the Ministry of Local and Government and Rural Development has revealed that there are serious financial management issues at the Freetown City Council.

According to the report, the Fiscal Decentralization Department (formerly Local Government Finance Department), situated in the Ministry of Finance, has transferred to the FCC about Le.10bn in the first-two quarters of 2021, more than any other local council in the country.

“However, unlike own source revenue generated that has some flexibility in its use, the grants received from the FDD are tied grants for specific purposes; that is, they cannot be used for any other purpose except for that which the grant has been provided for,” the report stated.

The inquiryfurther revealed that there are serious financial management issues in dealing with Council funds, noting that all own source revenue expenditures under review were without Public Expenditure Tracking (PET) Forms, and about 85% of both PET Forms (I & II) for GoSL expenditures were signed on the same date.

“For some activities, the dates on the PV and PET forms were the same, some activities do not have receipts or evidences of receipt, Agreements and receipts for Rent Allowances are not cited in most documents, and Payment Vouchers and receipts for sitting fees and refreshments were not found for most of the meetings held,” the report revealed.

“In addition, funds provided for sittings and refreshments for most of the meetings held were without receipts or payment vouchers, and without minutes or report as and where applicable.”

The report further revealed that, “For some activities, the schedule to sign for DSAs collected is embedded within the Request Letter. Most activities for which DSAs were received do not have activity reports or minutes, and some do not even have Concept Notes for instances where the activities were conducted by the Council. For some documents, the amount stated on the PVs, Request Letter and Receipt were not the same. There was no distinction in description of activities that were done quite often, with the exception of the PV numbers and date. All other inputs including amounts, recipients, and location are the same, with references to fuel purchase, payment of incentives and cleaning activities.”

This Administrative Inquiry was commissioned by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD or the Ministry) to examine the general administration of the Freetown City Council (the FCC or Council) including assessing the quality of financial management and to recommend ways of remedying the key challenges undermining effective service delivery. It largely covers the period from May 2018 to present.

The Report draws attention to the fact that the FCC is largely dysfunctional because of deep seated mistrust and division between Council staff and the political heads (Mayor and Councilors) on the one hand, and among Councilors including the Mayor on the other.

The Report contains a plethora of recommendations directed at various persons, bodies and institutions aimed at enhancing the effective functioning of unarguably one of the oldest municipal governments in colonial British West Africa. It evaluates this range and concludes that it would be ideal if the legislation on local government were reviewed urgently to remedy the seeming ambiguities in roles, undertake a management and systems review immediately, and in the meantime implement that conducted by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

“It is necessary to develop a comprehensive monitoring framework to assess the performance and capacity of the FCC, critically re-examine the position or status of the MDU within Council with a view of abolishing it, and induct elected persons to understand roles and responsibilities, and develop and implement a robust financial management system. These measures, if Implemented will help council’s potential in revenue generation and service delivery,” the Ministry stated in the report.

The full report can be accessed HERE