Friday, April 12, 2024

Internal auditor: ‘BAC used to spend D1M on fuel every month’

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By Mama A. Touray

The principal internal auditor of Brikama Area Council (BAC), Sulayman Barry, has told the ongoing local government commission of inquiry that the council used to spend over D1 million per month on fuel.

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During his third day of appearing before the Commission, Barry provided testimony as the fifth witness in the institutional hearing concerning the Brikama Area Council. The audit report indicated, and the witness confirmed, that the council used to spend over one million dalasi on fuel monthly.

When asked if there is a possibility of spending over 12 million on fuel annually, the witness said “yes”.

Barry pointed out that the council had been duplicating payments for fuel transactions in 2023, just like in 2022.

“One of the employees of the Finance Unit was paid over D2000 twice for fuel on the same day when he did not have a vehicle. The Director of Finance, the second Finance Manager of the Council as well as other staff of the Finance Unit of the Council all received double payments for the same day for fuel supply for the same transaction,” he said.

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The Commission noted from the audit report that there was a day a sum of D99,000 was spent on fuel in one day, and Barry testified that the allocation of fuel to non-council vehicles was common and that “the fuel supply is at the discretion of the CEO”.

He further testified that within the Brikama Area Council, the former CEO, Modou Jonga, had the veto power to make decisions on various issues, including fuel supply, and determining who would receive fuel. He stated that the CEO would exercise his veto during the Council’s general meetings.

“The CEO is extremely powerful,” the witness said. He added that the Council has a “budget line” for fuel, but they do not cater for the non-council vehicles, adding that BAC supplies fuel twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays).

“What the Council spends on fuel is exorbitant. The amount of money used to supply the Council fuel was exorbitant. These purchases are unjustifiable,” he said.

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He further said the Council has about twelve (12) vehicles and some of the trucks were not working and most of the time the council overspends.

The audit report also revealed that a sum of D11,350 was spent on medical expenses without any medical support scheme and the beneficiaries included the CEO, Finance Director and other revenue collectors.

The Council also made another payment of D1,50,OOO without having payment receipts. The witness said this act is a common practice at the council.

On the accounting system in place at BAC, Barry said the system was tailor-made to suit the desire of the Finance Director. He explained that the Internal Audit Unit has limited access to the system.

He said in many entities the user rights are controlled by the IT Unit, but for BAC, the Director of Finance controls and limits people’s access to the data in the Matrix System.

“Most of us do not have full access to the system,” the witness said.

He said this was why they were not able to have the time to scrutinise salary payments and it was the reason why they were not able to know whether there were ghost workers in the Council. He testified that the Director of Finance used to pay himself the highest allowances and he pays other people allowances as he desires.

“The Matrix System was tailor-made to suit the control and direction of the Director of Finance,” the witness said.

The Commission further noted the payment of 1.1 million dalasi without payment vouchers. The witness said the Director of Finance and the CEO used to sign cheques for payments, but they do not sign the payment vouchers to justify the payments they make.

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