After 25 years of darkness, it’s time the financial activities of the State Intelligence Service come to light
The SIS (formerly NIA) is a subvented public institution reporting directly to the office of the President. Since its formation, it has never been audited nor required to seek approval for its annual operational budgets from state lawmakers. Unlike other independent agencies that are using taxpayers’ money to finance their operations, submitting annual financial and activity reports to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly is a requirement by the Public Finance Act 2014.
There is nowhere in our Laws that exempted the state secret service agency not to account for the money they are using to fund its activities neither are they exempted from following GPPA procurement guidelines and policies.
Furthermore, the nation’s auditor general is mandated to make annual audits of all public institutions that are using taxpayer’s money to ascertain whether funds are being expended in compliance with applicable laws, amongst other requirements.
I am not being oblivious to the sensitivity of some of the operations of the state secret service Agency, but the need for transparency over the use of public funds especially against the evidence of single-sourcing huge building contracts should take precedence over the safeguarding of state secrets or the assessments could be done in-camera.
Recently, the jaw-dropping revelations that came out from the testimony of the head of SIS at the TRRC, disclosing the direct award of eight works contracts to a single contractor circumventing the government’s established GPPA procedures necessitated scrutiny of the financial operations of the SIS. The transformation of the intelligence service was one of the top priorities of the new Barrow government. The name change from NIA to SIS was never made into law. Operating an independent public institution fully subvented by the government and not reporting to Parliament may violate the laws of this country.
There is no doubt that the people have a right to know the full details of the amount of money disbursed on these reconstruction works. Again, how much Grant funds have been received from the Saudi Government that went into financing some of these projects as well as the construction of the costly training school building in Yundum should be of immense interest to the public to determine whether mismanagement or corruption are also part of the concealment efforts at the former NIA.
Let’s not forget that this is a State Institution and it is our taxes that are paying for its operations. Without the necessary checks and oversight of its financial activities, the risk of malfeasance as a consequence of continuing to use people’s money in darkness will remain very high.
Written by: A Concerned Citizen