5, GLOUCESTER STREET
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE
PSC PUBLISHES REPORT OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE INQUIRY ON
THE FAILED WEST AFRICA REGIONAL FISHERIES PROJECT
The Public Service Commission (PSC), pursuant to its constitutional mandate “to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in [public] offices”, has presented to His Excellency the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, an Administrative Inquiry report with wide-ranging implications for transparency and accountability in the Civil Service.
This came in the aftermath of a directive by His Excellency on the 16th July 2015 that an inquiry be conducted into the failed West Africa Regional Fisheries Project funded by the World Bank in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource. The US$28 million project aimed at improving governance of the fisheries sector; limit illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; and add value to Sierra Leone’s fisheries for export to Western markets, thus augmenting badly needed foreign exchange by the Government of Sierra Leone.
Commencing in August 2015 and lasting for about two months, the PSC inquiry focused on the causes of the termination of the Environmental Impact Assessment contract awarded to Global Group Incorporated, a US-registered company, and the World Bank’s subsequent decision to suspend the project. Through an eclectic and robust approach to evidence gathering, and guided by the cardinal principles of natural justice, the PSC examined every aspect of the project in detail. The Inquiry Committee, which included an independent adjudicator, analysed a huge volume of documentary evidence, listened to a secret recording of a conversation that took place at Dee’s Bazaar, and spoke to a wide array of personalities.
The Inquiry unearthed often disturbing evidence of: management and coordination problems with the project; a procurement process that on paper appeared consistent with established rules and regulations but was in actual fact manipulated and orchestrated; contract award based on a weak due diligence process that rendered the Project doomed to failure; a contract awarded to a firm (GGI) with hardly a dollar of its own to undertake any form of pre-financing as required by the terms of the contract; and of an unwitting confession by a Ministry official of rent-seeking for manipulating the procurement process in favour of the successful Contractor and for providing underhand services to the firm.
Accordingly, the report made drastic recommendations that certainly signal the beginning of the end of impunity by Civil Servants, administrative inertia in the handling of disciplinary matters in the Service, and contractor escapism from responsibility for Government of Sierra Leone contracts. One Civil Servant in the Ministry, to be prosecuted for breaching the procurement law, will be suspended without pay pending the outcome of the trial; another will be reprimanded severely for poor judgement; and the Contractor, who bears most of the responsibility for the failed project, will refund the money to the Government and be blacklisted for a minimum of five (5) years.
Entitled “Reported anomalies in the implementation of the World Bank-funded West Africa Regional Fisheries Project – Sierra Leone”, the report was presented to His Excellency the President on 12th February 2016 by the Chairman of the PSC, Dr Max Sesay, in the presence of PSC Commissioners and staff, the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, the Director General of the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO), the Director of the Public Sector Reform Unit who served as the Independent Adjudicator, the Honourable Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and the Acting Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
i) The PSC is the oldest Commission in Sierra Leone (established in 1948) and is one of only four Constitutional Commissions. The others are the National Electoral Commission, the Judicial & Legal Service Commission, and the Political Parties Registration Commission. An agency of equivalent constitutional status is the Audit Service.
ii) The Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 (Act No. 6 of 1991) vests in the PSC “the power to appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the public service (including power to make appointments on promotion and to confirm appointments) and to dismiss and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices…”
iii) The Commission is made up of a Chairman, four Members representing each of the four regions of Sierra Leone, and a total of 33 technical, administrative and support staff headed by the Secretary to the Commission and distributed across 4 Directorates and 12 Units
iv) The Commission’s Mission is “to provide leadership, supervision, oversight and guidance to the development and management of the human resources of the public service with a view to ensuring effective and efficient service delivery to the people of Sierra Leone”.
v) Among the Commission’s Core Values are Independence, Integrity, Transparency and Equal Opportunity.
For more on this report, please visit: http://psc.gov.sl/images/downloads/FISHERIES_INQUIRY_REPORT.pdf