Monday, August 16, 2010

WAS AG MORLU OFFERED A BRIBE? Ngafuan, GAC Debunk Speculations

By Rodney D. Sieh

Source: FrontPage Africa

Monrovia-

Is Liberia’s Auditor General John S. Morlu on the take? Speculations have been surfacing in recent weeks that Morlu, who is currently conducting a detailed testing over numerous inconsistencies and shortfalls in the 2010/2011 budget is assisting the Ministry of Finance correct some of the errors in the budget for an undisclosed fee. But the General Auditing Commission, when contacted Monday dismissed the allegations and declared that such a practice will never occur under Morlu’s watch.

Finance ‘will never dare’: GAC Says

Ernest Maximore, Communications Director of the GAC told FrontPageAfrica Monday that the Ministry of Finance will never dare to even attempt to bribe the GAC , or the AG if it even had the intent to do so because GAC or the AG never takes bribe and would expose anybody who attempts to bride the GAC, or the AG . “GAC never received a cent from any official of MOF and will never receive a bribe from anybody or any institution. At no time did MOF officials attempt bribing the GAC,” said Maximore.

Finance Minister Augustine Ngafuan also dismissed the suggestions when FPA made inquiries Monday.

For Maximore, the thought of AG Morlu or the GAC being in a compromising position is unthinkable. “This is wishful thinking by those that have always been bewitching the GAC to crumble so that feast of corruption that has existed nearly in all successive governments will become never-ending; but this will never happen under the Administration of Morlu.”

Maximore continued: “The AG has a statutory mandate as enshrined in Section 53.3 of the Executive Law of 1972 to conduct reconciliation and analysis of national accounts of GOL. The preamble of the International Organization of Supreme Auditing Standards (INTOSAI) also encourages Auditor Generals to provide a review and analysis of the draft budget for their National Legislatures.”

‘Professionalism will follow’

Maximore further noted that, since the AG received request from the Joint Legislative Committee on Ways and Means evaluating the draft National Budget for period 2010/2011 to provide technical support in the analysis and review of the National Budget, AG and his team of budget analysts have exercising high professional due care in fully screening every bit and pieces of vouchers, checks, supporting documents submitted to the GAC by MOG to determine and establishing bank balances that should be carried forward .

Maximore futhered: “The screening and review of those documents require time and at least we are finishing early this week to submit our analysis and review to the National Legislature. So if anyone thinks we should hurriedly do this with no patience of keen and professional due care, is making a grave mistake. Whatever we send to the Legislature is based on accuracy, reliability, appropriate, material and substantive justification and high core proof because of the professionalism we follow. “

For the past two fiscal years, Maximore explained the GAC has supported the National Legislature to identify and bring into the Consolidated Accounts, additional revenue sources including contribution from rental fees on Government owned properties, contributions from public corporations, additional tax assessments, outstanding taxes, among others. “ In 2007, GAC also concentrated on cash balances carried forward and three years later, it is vital that the exercise on carried forward balances be thoroughly conducted as it is important in establishing the true financial position of the Government of Liberia. Carried forward balances have also been identified as significant risk area in audits.”

The speculations regarding alleged compromise between Morlu and the Finance Ministry have been fueled in recent days by what some believe is Morlu’s surprising silence in the current budget debate. In previous years, Morlu has been vocal in his criticisms of budget lapses.

Morlu’s most famous indictment of the government’s spending practice came during the 2006 budget debate, when the AG caused an uproar by declaring in a Voice of America interview that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf presided over a regime "three times more corrupt" than that of her predecessor, Gyude Bryant, who faced graft charges after he left office. Morlu, a year later said, he stood by his analysis: "I made that statement in 2007, and I have been proven correct."

Morlu followed the controversy when during the debate over the 2008-2009 budget, he put Minister Ngafuan on the defensive, forcing the ministry to xplain a $500,000 snafu – in unjustifiable expense – 55 times over- in the tune of Twenty seven million, six hundred and sixty eight United States Dollars (($27, 668,042). The same budget period drew attention to some $US12.7 million listed under goods and services. The money reportedly controlled by the Ministry of Finance was listed annually but was not assigned or attributed to any government agency or ministry. The General claims portion of the budget has been an annual headache for Liberia’s international partners concerned about general claims and why no explanation is ever forthcoming on the amounts.

This year, the ministry has reported US$64,221,700.67 as the bank balance for the recently-ending fiscal budget. Out of that amount, US$24,552, 885.19 represents outstanding checks while US$30,307,510.28 represents the dollar value of vouchers processed against the reported balance.

The draft budget declared US$385,563.75(three hundred eighty five thousand, five thousand, five hundred sixty three dollar, seventy five cents) as the uncommitted cash balance or left over revenue for concluded 2009/2010 period. To date, the ministry has not been able to take on the challenge of the Auditor General regarding more than $64million bank balance trickled down to some US$300,000. The US$64, 221, 700.67, reported by the Finance Ministry falls within the estimated shortfall which the ministry earlier declared in the 2009/2010 budget.

While many have taken Morlu’s silence to mean he has compromised his work, GAC sources suggest that Morlu has been urged by his bosses at the European Union to stay out of the media and keep his eye on the audits. This coming after Morlu’s last public comments in which he challenged the Ministry of Finance to explain how it spent more than US$50million. Said Morlu in a recent FrontPageAfrica interview: “The truth is that if the Government of Liberia can account for the 31 million general claims that they reported spent, if they can account for the 21 million that was reported in 2006/2007; 2007/2008, We are talking about almost US$ 50 million plus, if they can account for that, I will resign and I will ask the European Union, I will pay the money back which they have used to pay over the years. They cannot account.”

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Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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