Sierra Leone to use biometrics to cleanse bloated payroll

Thursday September 6 2018

Julius Maada Bio

Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KEMO CHAM
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The Sierra Leone government will use biometric verification to rid its public service of officials using fake names to receive multiple salaries, officials said

The exercise, which commences next week, is designed to close loopholes in the payroll, eliminate ghost workers and end wastage of national resources.

The National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) and the Human Resources Management Office, will use data collected during the nationwide registration for the March 2018 elections to update personal details of all government workers.

Those who did not register at the time will have the chance to do so.

Public service

NCRA Director General Mohamed Massaquoi told journalists in Freetown that the verification, which was expected to enhance the performance of the civil service, was primarily aimed at protecting the Consolidated Revenue Fund to allow more funds to be directed to development projects.

“Over the years, there have been reports of people who receive salaries in up to three places in the public service,” he stated, adding that the biometric verification would identify the culprits and remove them from the payroll.

The Ministry of Finance sanctioned the exercise to be conducted from September 10 to 24.

The government says the move was part of President Julius Maada Bio’s ongoing campaign against corruption, a promise that has seen him institute stringent measures since April when he assumed office.

There are an estimated 80,000 employees on the government payroll.

His predecessor

Of particular concern to the government is the huge amounts of money that goes into the bloated payroll system, estimated at $200 million (Le1.06 trillion) in 2018. The amount accounted for about 65 per cent of domestic revenue, or 7.8 per cent of the GDP.

In its Fiscal Strategy Statement of 2018, the Ministry of Finance aims to maintain the wage bill at a sustainable level of 6 per cent of the GDP.

Within a month of assuming office in April, President Bio ordered the sacking of over 100 employees appointed by his predecessor, in the process saving some $2 million of the wage bill. Most of those sacked were said to be political appointees with no genuine job description.

Last July, the Finance ministry announced the removal of 1,000 names from the payroll after being identified as having attained the retirement age.