By: Kebba AF Touray
Bakary Trawally, Director of Audit for Municipalities and Area Councils, has recommended for the Kuntaur Area Council to investigate the usage of receipts as supporting documents. He said this will authenticate the genuineness of their transactions.
The recommendation comes following the audit on the said reports of the council, noting that a bunch of receipt books bearing the letterhead of a regular vendor (Jah Oil Company), were found at the office that used to house the former CEO, and used as supporting documents for several doubtful payments.
Trawally made these recommendations at the National Assembly during the appearance of officials of the said Council on Monday 6th February 2023, for the presentation of their activity reports and financial statements for the years ended 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“Management of Council should investigate the usage of these receipts as supporting documents to authenticate the genuineness of their transactions and take remedial actions against the officer(s) concerned,” he recommended.
Auditor Trawally stated further that the reason for keeping the receipt books at council was not provided by the current management and the former CEO could not be reached for comments.
“Council’s Internal Audit report covering September, 2019 and October 2020 reported the issue but we found no evidence of a management response and/or action by those charged with governance (General Council),” said Mr Trawally.
He said the implication in this saga is that there is risk that council funds were misappropriated and diverted from the council. “This may mean that the council will have less funds to provide services to its communities,” he added.
The management of Kuntaur Area Council, in their response stated that although they had acknowledged the findings of the auditors as per the query, they need to consult the former CEO for his comments before taking any necessary remedial actions as per the recommendation of the auditors.
“A team has been set up by the general council to look into the matter of the suspected fraud. Furthermore a letter has been sent to the former Chief Executive Officer for his comments on your audit observation,” said the Management of Kuntaur Area Council.
Earlier, Morro Keita, the Director of Finance at the council while reporting to the Finance and Public Account Committee (FPAC), informed them that the council generated a total income of 16,297,175.88 in 2020. The said Council appeared on Monday 6th February 2023, for the presentation of the 2019 and 2020 activity reports and financial statements of the council for scrutiny and consideration.
“The total income of the council in the fiscal year 2020 was sixteen million two hundred and ninety seven thousand one hundred and seventy five dalasi and eighty eight bututs (D16,297,175.88). The total expenditure stood at twelve million five hundred and fifty one thousand five hundred and thirty seven dalasi and sixty nine bututs (D12,551,537.69).Income over expenditure was three million seven hundred and forty five thousand six hundred and thirty eight dalasi and nineteen bututs (D3,745,638.19),” he said. “The total for the year 2019 was D11,240,066.00. The income over expenditure was D593,973.03. The total asset of the council was D1,138,327.43,” he disclosed.
Momodou Sambou, the Chief Executive Officer of the council, reported that among the construction works under taken by the council in 2019 include the construction of new canteens at the Lamin Koto Crossing point for commercial purposes, adding that the canteens will boost the commercial activities at the crossing point.
“In our strategic development plan, priority one is a critical issue where almost every village needs adequate drinking water. Council with its low revenue base cannot provide for all, as a result, we decided to go in for Rural Infrastructure Development Project (RDIP) for 5 boreholes for each district,” he said.
He added that there were also road rehabilitations in Batti Ndar, Sare Alpha, Kerr Naka, Demba Kalleh, Madina Dam Njie, Kataba Omar, Sinchou Dura and Mbulbuck villages; adding that they also constructed the Wassu Car Park at a tune of D5,500,000.00 and provided a water borehole for Ndrammeh Village.
Commenting on the Audit exercise the said Director of Audit Municipalities and Area Councils told FPAC that they have audited the said reports of the Kuntaur Area Council and have obtained sufficient and appropriate evidence to provide basis for opinion. He said that among such evidence include but not limited to un-confirmed account balances, adding that the account balances of the revenue and expenditure statement and balance sheet for the year under review were not confirmed.
“This was as a result of non-maintenance of ledger for individual accounts and the improper maintenance of the cashbook without a proper cash book and ledgers, we could not determine the correctness of the figures on the revenue and expenditure statement and the balance sheet,” he said.
Consequently, they were ordered by FPAC to reappear on the 7th February, 2023 for scrutiny and consideration of the reports submitted.