SIERRA LEONE EMBASSY IN LIBYA FOR THE PERIOD 1ST JANUARY, 2004 – 31STDECEMBER, 2009
1. Visa Fees not displayed in a conspicuous place.
It was observed that a list of the categories of fees for visa was not displayed in a conspicuous place on the premises of the chancery as stated in the Financial Order.
It was recommended that the HOC should ensure the display of visa fees in a conspicuous place in the Embassy.
2. Embassy Visa Fees
An examination of the Visa Stickers, General Receipts and Visa Fees Register revealed that amounts, totalling $17,600.00 were collected as Visa Fees for the period 2007 to date. Further examination of the Paying-in-Slips and Bank Statements revealed that the sum of $16,600 was banked, but an outstanding balance of $1,000.00 was not banked.
In addition, $700 was withdrawn from the Consular Account without any explanation for the withdrawal.
The following were recommended:
All funds collected must be promptly banked by the HOC;
Mechanisms were to be urgently put in place by the MOFED, to ensure that bank accounts opened specifically for the payment of consular income were not easily accessible by the Embassy staff; and
In the event that there was the urgent and pressing need for funds to be used from such fees, it must only be done on the written authority of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development , the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Accountant General.
3. Staff matters
A review of the payroll of local staff of the Embassy revealed the following:
Personal files of local staff were not maintained;
None of the staff had employment letters;
No record of incremental letters was kept;
There was no written down policy guiding the terms and conditions of the service of local staff employed by the Embassy;
The procedure for recruiting local staff was not identified. There was no evidence of interviews or authority from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
for their employment;
The names of staff who were no longer working for the Embassy had not been removed from the Payroll and replaced by the names of their successors; and
It was observed that for the period under review, NASSIT contributions had only been deducted from the Salaries of three members of staff of the Embassy.
For the remaining staff, NASSIT contributions had only been deducted from their earnings between the period July to December, 2005.
The following were recommended;
A staff policy should be developed and circulated to all staff as soon as possible. This will guide the Embassy authorities in dealing with local staff in the future;
All staff should be recruited through a proper recruitment process. Such procedure should be developed as soon as possible to guide future recruitment of local staff;
The names of those who no longer worked for the Embassy should be immediately replaced in the Embassy’s Payroll; and
No funds should be paid to any staff except those approved by the MFAIC and the MOFED.
4. Payment Vouchers
It was observed that some payment vouchers were not verified and approved by the HOC. In addition, Payment vouchers were often not signed by the recipients of funds for goods bought by or services rendered to the Embassy. Furthermore, amounts were only written in figures and not in words on the payment vouchers.
It was recommended that all Payment Vouchers must be signed by the HOC before any payment. Also, officers authorising Payment Vouchers must ensure that amounts stated in figures should also be written in words to prevent the risk of expenditure being overstated.
5. Telephone Bills
Reviewing the Payment Vouchers and other supporting documents relating to telephone bills, we observed an amount of $17,293.90 as a difference between amount consumed and entitlements.
It was recommended that, with immediate effect, steps should be taken to ensure that all telephone calls were monitored and recorded, using the recommended format for authorizing and monitoring all calls.
It was also recommended that overpayments of telephone bills be recovered from the officers concerned.
6. Cash and Bank
The following were observed;
A Cash Book was not maintained for the Consular Account and thus no reconciliation was performed;
Bank Reconciliation Statements prepared by the Finance Clerk for the operational account were not reviewed by the HOC; and
Upon review of the Cash Book and Bank Statements, we observed that the sum of $ 13,678.70 was transferred into a credit card and the reason for the transfer was
not proffered. Evidence of how these amounts were spent was also not provided.
It was recommended that, with immediate effect, proper Bank Reconciliation Statements should be prepared on a monthly basis and approved by the HOC and a proper explanation must be given for the monies transferred to the credit card. All supporting documents relating to the expenditure must also be provided for audit inspection.
7. Fixed Assets and Stores
It was observed that assets were not properly recorded in the Master Inventory and items in all residences and the Chancery Office were not marked, signifying ownership by the Embassy.
In addition, there was no evidence of checks being done to ensure that items in various locations used by the Embassy were not missing and in good condition. In any case, assets were found to be missing when a verification exercise was conducted at the Ambassador’s residence.
The following were recommended:
The HOC must ensure that the location and state of the Embassy‘s assets were checked on a regular basis. Evidence of such checks must be documented,
Proper identification marks must be affixed on all Fixed Assets owned by the Embassy with immediate effect, and all assets not seen must be accounted for.
8. Use of Pooled (Utility) Vehicles of the Embassy
The following were observed;
A fuel log book or operating record was not maintained for the period under review;
There was no maintenance policy in place for pooled vehicles; and
There was no laid down policy on fuel expenses and usage.
It was highly recommended that, with immediate effect, a vehicle log book be instituted and a written down policy be drawn up as a guide to fuel usage and maintenance.
9. Remittances to the Embassy
It was noted that remittances for Personnel Emoluments and Other Charges expenditure continued to reach the Embassy’s bank account. However, such remittances were not received on a timely basis
10. Cash payments
During the course of the audit, it was observed that significant amounts of money were paid out as cash payments. Such payments included those to contractors and payments for salaries, wages, and Petty Cash expenditure.
It was recommended that limits should be set for what can be paid for by cash. All major expenditure such as major repairs and maintenance, travelling cost etc should be made using the cheque system. This would ensure that the use of Government funds could be easily and readily monitored and accountability for such funds be assured.
The HOC did not respond to the above audit observations and findings and has thus violated Government Budgetary and Accountability Act Section 64 (3) which states that; ‘‘Every query or observation under subsection (2) received by the Accountant-General or any other person shall, within thirty days after its receipt by that person, be returned by him, with the necessary reply to the Auditor-General’’.