The Director of Public Education and External Outreach Department, Anti-Corruption Commission, Sierra Leone, (ACC-SL) Patrick Sandi has, on Wednesday 8th November, 2023, in an Advocacy Meeting held in Grand Popo, Benin, articulated the positive strides Sierra Leone has made in the fight against corruption, particularly in regard public procurement in the Health and Education Ministries.
The PowerPoint presentation which was made in the Conference Hall of the Ganna Hotel centered on the Strategies, Innovations and Best Practices employed by the Commission to combat corruption in procurement related issues in the sectors of Health and Education.
In his submission, Mr. Sandi outlined the Mandate, Vision, Mission and functions of the ACC. He further explained the interventions of the ACC in the two sectors as it would relate to Annual, Real Time and Performance Audit Reports by Audit Service Sierra Leone that appertain procurement related breaches.
Director also highlighted the recoveries made by the Commission as a result of these audit interventions, noting the complimentary support the ACC gets from ASSL stating the MoU signed.
Director Sandi also explained the partnership and collaboration with the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA), as there is an existing MoU and Section 78(1g) which makes provision for referrals and also the Amendment which now gives ACC the authority to cancel contracts that are not in the public interest and are corrupt in nature, on the approval of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NPPA.
Mr. Sandi also spoke about the positive impact of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2019-2023 implementation, which ensured the functionality of the Integrity Management Committees (IMCs) in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including, Health and Education, emphasizing that the crafting of the 5th Generation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (2024-2028) is underway by a Team of Experts who are currently engaged in nationwide consultations with persons/stakeholders of all walks of life.
Remarkably too, the Director Sandi underscored the Recoveries made by the ACC stating the 14 laptop computers, hard-end gadgets and the over Two Hundred Million Leones cash from officials of the National COVID 19 Emergency Response Center NaCOVERC.
In continuation, the ACC Director enumerated the gains the Commission has made, including the "Raids" by the Elite Scorpion Squad, on the sale of fake vaccination cards, examination malpractices in Public Examinations, and the Sierra Leone-Liberia border intervention that involved two tourists who illegally paid for fake yellow fever vaccination cards.
He furthered that the ACC continues to make significant improvements and scores on the Global, Regional and Local Corruption Perception Indexes, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) scorecard which Sierra Leone has (2023) again excellently passed in the 'Control of Corruption Indicator' with a score of 76%.
He also dilated on the overall Recoveries made by the Commission which exceeds 45 Billion (Old) Leones, appropriately USD$2.1 Million United States Dollars.
Mr. Sandi equally emphasized the need to increase public awareness activities so that the public is informed about the public procurement activities of the two sectors to enable the citizenry question and report acts of breaches and anomalies to the ACC or other relevant authority.
Speaking on the innovations needed to curb corruption in procurement related issues in Health and Education, Mr. Sandi mentioned that E-procurement and the use of Technology by MDAs to advance service delivery will be the game changer once the practice is effectively and dispassionately inculcated by public officials.
Ending his presentation, Mr. Sandi observed the relevance of these two sectors in Sierra Leone, particularly in the area of public procurement as they attract so much Resources from Government and Donors, adding that, Education is a major flagship of the Government and Health is also prioritized as the country has a Free Health Care scheme.
The representative from NPPA-SL, Alieu Moigboi, Director of Training elucidated on the procurement regime in Sierra Leone emphasizing the collaboration with the ACC. He spoke on the independence of the Authority and some of the challenges faced.
Justice Ganawah, Senior Economist, Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) a civil society voice, suggested for ACC and NPPA to use data analytics which will help in their interventions in MDAs in relation to public procurement activities.
The Advocacy Meeting is organized by Social Watch, Benin, in collaboration with Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) and SEND SL with support from Open Society Foundation for Africa also known as OSIWA.
It could be recalled that quite recently, September, 2023 the Executive Secretary of the GACC Beauty Nartey paid a visit to Sierra Leone's ACC to learn about its great work. The Advocacy Meeting also provided a learning opportunity where persons from Benin, Sierra Leone and Ghana were able to learn significantly about the fight against corruption and the enormous achievements recorded.