The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has called on staff of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) in Kenema to abstain from corrupt practices and maintain integrity in the discharge of their duties. The call was made by the ACC’s Public Education Officer, Patrick Hinga George, at an engagement with the management and staff of the NRA office in Kenema at the Authority’s Blama Road office in the eastern city.
Mr. George drew their attention to the Commission’s press release that reminded public institutions to develop and maintain a gift register, as contained in section 51 (4) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, which states: “Where a gift or personal benefit exceeds Five Million (old) Leones in value or where the total value received directly or indirectly from one source in any twelve month period exceeds five million (old) Leones, the public officer shall – (a) make a report of the that fact to the relevant public body within such time and in such form as may be prescribed by the Commission.” He further referred to section 51 (5), which states that failure by a Public Officer to comply with the above requirements attracts a fine three times the value of the gift or benefit or fifty million (old) Leones upon conviction.
Earlier in his opening statement, chairman of the meeting, Edward Nathaniel Blake, stated that the ACC’s presence at the NRA was not to investigate or frighten any staff of the Authority but rather in pursuit of fostering the Commission’s mandate in the fight against graft through public education. Mr Blake, who is also Public Education Officer attached to the ACC office in Kenema, reminded the NRA staff that corruption has not only stagnated the socio-economic growth of the country but also intensified poverty and a major reason for civil unrests, including the decade-long civil war in the country between 1991 and 2002.
“As a people and as a country, we don’t want to go back to those barbaric years,” he stated. He said that as an income generating institution, the NRA has a pivotal role to play in maintaining peace and upholding the country’s stability.
Explaining some of the key corruption offences often committed by public officers, Investigation Officer, Andrew Komeh, singled out misappropriation of public funds or property and misappropriation of donor funds or property, among others. He therefore cautioned them to desist from such practices.
Mr. Komeh reminded them of the need to be constantly monitoring business people because the Commission’s observation is that most of the GST machines are not being used to collect the required taxes, thus depriving the government of much needed revenue. Also, as part of the numerous complaints that are brought to the attention of the Commission, Mr Komeh pinpointed the discrepancies surrounding taxation, issuance of wrong receipts, among others.
Responding, the NRA Regional Manager, George Bundeh, thanked the team from ACC and commended the good work of the Commission under the astute leadership of Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. He noted that the strong partnership between the NRA and ACC has yielded greater dividend more especially in the area of revenue generation.
Mr Bundeh said that following the Systems Review Processes review conducted by the Prevention Department of the ACC and the recommendations made sometimes back, the NRA can today boast of an automated system that has not only aided the generation of more funds but also served as greater deterrent to illegal acquisition of wealth by public officers. He expressed hope that such engagement will continue so that officers are constantly reminded of their responsibilities to the state.
A question and answer session climaxed the engagement.