To be surplus is worse than shortage in accounting” according to the Chairman of the Committee on Finance in Parliament, Hon Alhassan Sheriff, while addressing officials from the Kenema City Council (KCC) who were unable to account for the sum of Le41m (forty-one million Leones) in their Financial Report for December 2014.
This is the third time for the Committee to stand-down the Kenema City Council on various issues in their December 2014, Financial Report which if properly presented will create the way for their 2015 budget allocation to be approved for the smooth running of the Council.
The Chairman of the Committee at the start of the session, reminded members of the Committee that KCC were before them to defend their budgets two weeks ago but for obvious reasons, they were asked to go and set the records straight.
He also expressed the hope that the Report before them now is reliable to enable them put the issue to rest and then table it before Parliament for proper debate to ascertain whether the KCC budget should be approved.
With a glance of just the first two pages of the 18 pages Report submitted by KCC, Members of the Committee were able to pick out some financial lapses in the area of the amount allocated to the Council and expenditures undertaken as the initial exceeding amount sum up to Le 2,454,250,135.77 (two Billion, four hundred and fifty-four Million, two hundred and fifty thousand, one hundred and thirty-five Leones seventy-seven cent).
But with intensive deliberations supported by some documents which were verified by members of the Committee and with the help of Hon Alusine Marrah, who was doing the calculations, the amount to be accounted for dropped down to Le 41m (Forty-one Million Leones).
According to the Chairman of the Committee, there is nothing they as Committee members can do as they have done all they could as a Committee to help KCC, explaining that the worst case scenario is for the Kenema City Council to expend more than what they receive which is an indication that they are either receiving funds from somewhere apart from what is before them now or someone is hiding an information from the Committee.
Making his contribution on the issue, Hon Muluku Suleiman Sesay, expressed dissatisfaction over the continuous errors made by KCC as they have been before the Committee for three or four times and they are yet to come up with a comprehensive Report, suggesting that KCC should hire the service of a Consultant to assist them.
This statement came about when the Financial Officer of KCC, David Kallon, disclosed that they do not have an Accountant to assist him in the Council with his work.
In response to that, Hon, Komboh Kamara, disclosed that the Committee cannot continue to tell them to go and correct their errors, “it’s as if they are telling a failed student to go and fill the blank spaces. We have been on this for quite a long time. The Committee should do something now on the issue as one error makes the Report inconclusive”.
The Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon Patricia Browne, states that the Committee cannot cook the figures for the officials from KCC, as they must be able to pick out the figures from the Report and present it to them to reach a conclusion on the issues.
Having heard from Members of the Committee and the Officials from KCC, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Alhassan Sheriff, stood-down KCC for them to go and arrange the Report properly and appear before the Committee today at 2pm.