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(1)  (a) There shall be a Committee to be known as the Public Accounts Committee consisting of the Deputy Speaker as Chairman and not more than ten other Members, to be nominated by the Committee of Selection
(b) It shall be the duty of the Committee to examine the annual accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by the House to meet public expenditure together with the reports and special reports of the Auditor-General Thereon.  
(c) The Public Accounts Committee shall, for the purpose of discharging that duty, have powers pursuant to subsection (6) of Section 93 of the Constitution.
(d) The Public Accounts Committee shall have power to examine any accounts or reports of statutory Corporations and Boards after they have been laid on the table of the House, and to report thereon from time to time to the House, and to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of Parliament.  
(a)  Without prejudice to paragraph (d) the Select Committee Overseeing the supervisory ministry of a parastatal may include that particular parastatal within its mandate. (f)  The quorum shall be the Chairman and five Members. 

The Role of the PAC in Parliament and its Work for the Citizens of Sierra Leone 

The Supremacy of Parliament

It is a fundamental tenet of parliamentary democracy that governments may only collect revenue and make expenditure that has been authorized by Parliament.Governments are accountable to the legislature for the way in which they spend the funds they raise from taxpayers and other sources.  Before taxpayers’ money is spent, legislatures will   approve government income and expenditure plans.  After the money has been spent, legislatures demand assurance that the money has been spent as intended by Parliament and in accordance with all relevant laws and regulations.  They will seek explanations and improvements when things have gone wrong.  These pre- and post-expenditure activities form the heart of parliamentary financial scrutiny.  The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) fulfils the essential post-expenditure role in Sierra Leone.


In accordance with Section (70) sub-section (6) of the Standing Orders of the Sierra Leone Parliament which state as follows:

SECTION 93     (1)     At the beginning of each session of Parliament, but in any case not later than twenty-one days thereafter, there shall be appointed from among its members the following   Standing Committees, that is to say....... 

                                      Public Accounts Committee

                                      Finance Committee

                                      Public Appointment Committee

                                     Foreign Affairs Committee and other select Committee etc.

           (6) For the purpose of effectively performing its functions, each of the

           Committees shall have all such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High court at a trial in respect of

(a)    enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath, affirmation or otherwise;

(b)    compelling the production of documents; and

(c) the issue of a commission or request to examine witnesses abroad.

SECTION 94       (1)    Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may regulate its own procedure, and may in particular make, amend and revoke Standing Orders for the orderly conduct of its own proceedings

SECTION 95.    Any act or omission which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer thereof in the discharge of his duties or affronts the dignity of Parliament, or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce such a result shall be a contempt of  Parliament.

SECTION 96.   Where an act or omission which constitutes contempt of Parliament is an offence under the criminal law, the exercise by Parliament of the power to punish for contempt shall not be bar to the institution of proceedings under the criminal law.
The PAC has the power to question the Officials of the Executive at public meetings, to demand documents which it considers relevant to its enquiry and to report its findings directly to a plenary session of the Parliament.
The PAC is empowered to examine the annual accounts of Government together with the report of the Auditor-General thereon. Under the Government Budgeting and Accountability Act, the Auditor-General is required to submit to the Parliament a report following the end of each financial year.  The Act also empowers the Auditor-General to submit “a special report” in certain circumstances.

Roles and Responsibilities

The PAC is a committee of parliament. Its members, all MPs, are responsible for reviewing the financial statements of government ministries and agencies and examining issues relating to the management of public money. They focus on the effectiveness of financial management and delivery, asking in particular:

 How does the Executive spend money?

                 On what does the Executive spend money?
            Have all the revenues due been collected?
          How do we know that the money was spent as it should have been?
Th The Committee meets in public and publishes its proceedings and reports. Its work helps to ensure the transparency and openness of Government by providing a public arena in which government spending is explained and debated and those responsible for the spending are held to account for their actions. 

Composition of the Committee

The Committee comprises eleven Members of Parliament, appointed in proportion to the number of MPs in each political party elected to Parliament.
The Chair of the Committee is a member of the ruling party but the Deputy Chair is a member of the main opposition party. Every effort is made to achieve consensus during debates, to be objective in making findings and recommendations and to avoid adopting a political position. The final report produced by the Committee reflects this consensual, non-partisan approach.


The Committee is supported by a Clerk, who advises the Chair and members on the necessary procedures to be followed when holding hearings.
He identifies the appropriate officials and other experts who are required to attend meetings of the Committee. Assisted by a small research staff, he also assists the committee in analysing the information provided to it and in preparing the report for Parliament containing the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations.

The Auditor General and Audit Service Sierra Leone
The PAC works in collaboration with the Auditor General and Audit Service Sierra Leone. Together they empower Parliament to be an effective guardian of the public purse on behalf of the citizens of Sierra Leone. 

Under the Constitution and other legislation the Auditor General and Audit Service of Sierra Leone are responsible for scrutinising public expenditure and providing an independent opinion on how the Government has used public resources.  They provide the reports that the PAC examines during the course of its work.  They provide advice to the Committee regarding the findings of the reports that they submit to Parliament and are invited to attend the hearings of the Committee as expert witnesses and to support the Committee in its deliberations.

Other Witnesses

The PAC will issue a press notice outlining the subjects that it will be examining which will invite interested parties to submit written evidence before a specified deadline. The Committee will identify the witnesses that it requires to examine and they receive specific invitations, including the date, time and venue, to attend the relevant hearing of the Committee.  The failure of a witness to attend a hearing, without good reason, may be deemed contempt of Parliament and appropriate measures, including serious sanctions, will be taken to ensure that the requirements expected of the witness are fulfilled. Oral evidence sessions are normally held in public, unless the Committee decides that there are issues of a security or confidential nature to be discussed which are not appropriate for public disclosure at that stage of the enquiries.  Witnesses communicate such issues to the Clerk of the Committee before the hearing to enable all concerned to find a solution that allows as much information as possible to be transparently available in the public domain. Parliamentary hearings normally take place in the Parliament Building in Freetown.  Some hearings are held in regional locations and these will be publicised to enable members of the public to attend.  Witnesses are specifically advised of the location beforehand.

The Hearing

Accountability and transparency in action – the power of citizens exercised on their behalf by democratically elected representatives. Members of the Committee put questions to witnesses. The Chair of the Committee normally starts the proceedings with a brief introduction about the subject of the hearing and invites members to ask questions of the witnesses in turn.  In limited circumstances, witnesses may make an opening statement before questioning commences. However, such statements are normally provided to the Committee, in writing, beforehand.

Witnesses may appeal to the Chair of the Committee if a particular question is thought to be unfair.  If the Chair considers that the question is proper, the witness must attempt to answer it.  If the information to answer the question is not immediately to hand, the Committee will require the witness to submit the necessary information to it in writing as soon as possible.  This information is regarded as written evidence and is published alongside other written evidence received by the Committee.  Hearings normally last for two hours although the Chair will provide more time, in exceptional circumstances, if the Committee considers it necessary.  Witnesses may be asked to return to a subsequent hearing of the Committee.


The following are processes adopted by the Committee:

     1. Auditor-General submits a Report to the Clerk’s Office;
2. The Business Committee schedules and lays the Report before the House and then it is referred to the PAC for consideration 
    and report;
3. The PAC Secretariat writes to all MDAs queried in the Report of the Auditor- General, forwarding respective portions of the Report that pertain to them and then requests that they forward their responses and comments if any on the Report within a stipulated time frame, usually two weeks;

   4.A Sub-Committee of PAC reviews the responses and submits a report to the Committee recommending which MDAs should be invited for public hearing based on the criteria set;

   5. The PAC then schedules a date for the hearing and instructs the secretariat to write to all the selected MDAs, inviting them to respond to the queries they failed to address sufficiently and/or systemic problems that should be raised for the benefit of all MDAs;

   6. A date for the public sitting is published in the print and announced in the electronic media for the benefit of the Press and all interested stakeholders;

   7. A public meeting is conducted where auditees are given the opportunity to explain their own viewpoint on the Auditor- General’s queries while Members of PAC who have studied the issues in detail with the help of the Audit Service Staff, cross examine the auditees;

   8. The Committee then compiles its report and makes recommendations on the Auditor-General’s Report to the House for debate and adoption;

   9. After the adoption of the Report by the Plenary, the PAC secretariat writes to all MDAs named in the report, requesting them to implement the recommendations and report back to the Committee within a month. The Attorney General at this point is invited to commence prosecution of criminal cases referred to his Office; and

   10. The PAC takes a sample of feedbacks and follows up to ascertain the veracity of the reports and progress of implementation of its recommendations.

   11. The following are the summary of the processes adopted by the Committee with aid of the Auditor-General’s Office: In the process the PAC compares responses received from MDAs to responses in management letters issued immediately after the audit with the aid of experts from the Audit Service; The PAC flags up cases of non-response and cases of inadequate/ inappropriate responses; and The ultimate objective is to determine the materiality of findings in the Auditor-General’s Report through evaluation of:

         i. The gravity of the findings of the Auditor-General;
iiThe frequency of occurrence of particular lapses  across MDAs;
iii. The magnitude of public funds involved; and 
iv. Other administrative lapses which the Committee deems necessary for correction.


The following criteria for selecting cases for public hearings are adopted by the Committee:

When a query is considered satisfactorily answered, auditee is discharged;
When a query is considered partially answered and without adequate documentation, verification by the Audit Service is required;
When a query is badly answered and requires further probing the auditee is invited to testify before PAC in public.

When there is no response at all, the auditee is required to appear before the PAC in public to explain their inability to respond to the management letter from Audit Service and the query from the PAC. If responses are adequate but the nature of the problem is such that PAC prefers to highlight it for the attention of all institutions working to secure judicious application of public resources, the auditee is invited to explain actions and inactions before the Committee and for the benefit of the public and other MDAs.

The Report of the Committee

Following examination of witnesses and deliberation on all the evidence available to it, the Committee will formally adopt the report.
Then it is tabled in Parliament by the Chair.  Parliament may deliberate on the findings of the report.  The report is available to the public as soon as these deliberations are complete.  The report contains details of all the evidence, oral and written, provided to the Committee in addition to the substance of the report itself, including its findings and recommendations.