The 2014 Auditor General’s report which is on the website of Audit Service Sierra Leone for public consumption has exposed the former Minister of Defense in a 30 Billion ($6,5M) overpricing scam.
According to the report, Palo Conteh who is now the Chief Executive Officer of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC), in November 2013 acted on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone entered into an agreement for the procurement of 126 common used and specialized vehicles in two lots of 69 and 57 with two supplier involving the sum of $10,654,168 and $5,058,368 respectively.
The report exposed that of 126 vehicles ordered only 49 were delivered leaving behind a balance of 77 outstanding and that comparison of the invoice prices, the NPPA Price norm, current market prices and prices of similar vehicles procured by other Government Agencies disclosed that the vehicles were overpriced by 30 Billion Leones ($6.1M).
This, the Audit Report revealed was a clear manifestation of total disregard for the principle of economy in the use of public fund by those acting on behalf of Government in the contract agreement.
The Report also explained that Some of the vehicles delivered did not match the specification in the contract agreement.
“For example two ambulances were supplied instead of mini bus.
Two defective vehicles were returned to the supply and up to the time of writing this report, the vehicles valued at $620,000 have not been replaced or fixed by the contractors. There were other deviation in specification as well,” the report highlighted.
The report added that although the contract required that all taxes and other expenses be borne by the supplier there was no evidence that duty amounting up to Le9.7B was paid.
“Even though that the contract agreement stipulated that the suppliers shall provide servicing part for a period of one year, there was no evidence that the supplier has complied or that the spare were ever provided to the MOD,” the report revealed.
The Auditor General Lara Taylor Pearce described the findings at the Ministry of Defense which involved the former Ministry in the Executive Summary of the report as, ‘egregious.’
When SALONE TIMES contracted the NERC CEO who was the Minister of Defense, he described the allegations as ‘ absolute nonsense.’
Palo Conteh further explained that a minister is not part of the procurement process of his Ministry as they now have the FIA and Technical Evaluation for procurement.
He fumed at the fact that even though his name was mentioned in the report he was never contacted to get his own side of the story.