We showed how salaries of partisan compensation jobs across all sectors of government account for the majority of the wage bill increase. We also highlighted another major public expenditure burden: the use of international official travels, especially those associated with presidential delegations, to financially reward SLPP party loyalists and new political appointees with huge per diems and travel opportunities. In future publications of this series, we will quantify the huge monetary deductions and revenue losses resulting from overhead expenditures and the ways they have added fiscal pressure on the country’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Over the course of the investigation, we found evidence of widespread use of unchecked spending and financial allocations to fund non-budgetary and overhead activities, especially those relating to the operations and activities of the First Lady. This situation, we discovered, is made possible by the president’s aforementioned executive order to establish a single treasury account, which removed the previously existing fiscal authority and oversight of government ministries, agencies, and departments. Documentary evidence acquired during our investigation clearly illustrate how this single treasury account has not only centralized government revenue collection and dispensation in the hands of the Finance Ministry, but has also facilitated surreptitious disbursements of state revenues and contracts to close relatives of the president and to non-state institutions including, especially, the Office of the First Lady.
Documents examined by the Africanist Press reveal how the Finance Ministry provided regular funds to the Office of the First Lady, a non-statutory institution, on instructions from the Office of the President. For instance, we discovered that the activities of the First Lady’s “Hands Off Our Girls Campaign” received more than 50% of its operational and overhead budgetary expenditure between December 2018 and December 2019 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Our investigation tracked, for example, a total sum of about Le15 billion of direct government funding disbursed from the Ministry of Finance to the Office of the First Lady to meet operational and overhead costs of the First Lady’s Office. We examined, in particular, official correspondences between officials of the President’s Office, the Finance Ministry, and the First Lady’s Office regarding requests for funds and the speedy administrative authorizations and disbursements of such funds in ways that are uncharacteristic of the usual bureaucratic timelines associated with government financial processing. Civil servants we interviewed during our investigation confirm that while Finance Ministry records of these funding requests and disbursements do exist, there is a seeming lack of detailed records and accounting statements in the First Lady’s Office regarding the precise expenditure details on how these allocated state funds have been utilized.
We tabulated the total amounts of government funding – including the more than Le3.1 billion spent on the two-day launching event – and discovered that at least Le5,827,080.000 of government funds were disbursed to the First Lady during the first two months following the campaign’s launch. The total amount of money allocated to the First Lady for the two-day launching ceremony of the “Hands Off Our Girls Campaign” alone, for instance, is four times more than the combined annual salaries of all 40 of the Senior Procurement Officers in the Public Procurement Department assigned across all ministries, agencies, and departments. With monthly salaries between Le1,420,076 and 1,624,763, the total combined salaries of all 40 Senior Procurement Officers in the national workforce is Le56,803,146 monthly.