Friday, December 3, 2010

Liberia: EU-Seconded Consultant Says Audit Indictees’ Aggression is Positive Sign for GAC

GAC Press Release
Source: The Heritage Liberia
AG Morlu
Lamentations and volleys of dissent from auditees over audit reports released by the General Auditing Commission should not be understood as a weakness but rather as indicators of great achievement by the General Auditing Commission (GAC). A Zambian topnotch auditor seconded to the GAC by the European Union, Mr. Ron M. Mwambwa, says the misunderstanding between the GAC and its auditees following the release of audit reports is a good sign that the GAC is on course with its anti-corruption crusade.


Mr. Mwambwa made the comments in an interview with GAC Today. “In the past few years that I have been at the GAC, I have seen some misunderstandings between the GAC and the Auditees, especially after an audit,” he said. “This, in my view should be seen as a positive sign and can be attributed to the fact that the GAC has become a strong institution and its work is being recognized by Liberians.”
“In any case,” he further noted, “I do not expect the auditees to accept the results of the GAC audits given the fact that not so many institutions have had comprehensive audits in the past. However, having said that, I also think that we need to do a little more in terms of sensitizing our stakeholders so that they can understand the GAC’s role in the accountability process.”

Mr. Mwambwa is a Zambian contracted by FINEUROP to be Team leader of the EC funded project at the General Auditing Commission. He is a member of the Chartered Institute Management Accountants (CIMA) and the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) and have over 20 years experience in the Zambian Audit Office, where he rose to the position of State Audit Secretary, which was the number two position to the Auditor General.

He took assignment with the GAC in January 2007 under the EC funded Long Term Technical Assistance to the General Auditing Commission.

His assignment coincided with the appointment of a new Auditor General, who is also sponsored by the European Commission.

Looking back to the onset of his assignment at the GAC, he recalled that prior to the newly reformed GAC, there were a lot of challenges in terms of qualified manpower, infrastructure, lack of established procedures that met international best practices, non production and submission audit reports to the National Legislature.

But, according to him, following a management study which was funded by the EC, a project concept to support the GAC was developed with a focus on four key areas: Strengthening the legal and regulatory framework of the GAC in line with national laws and international standards; strengthening the capacity of the GAC’s staff and establish a sustainable framework for human resources development; improving the working environment of the GAC and Strengthening the internal management and methodologies of the GAC.

Recounting some of EU’s support to the GAC, Mr. Mwambwa outlined the implementation of a training programme in audit techniques, not only to the GAC staff but also to staff other Ministries. He said more than 350 Liberian professionals have gone through this training. This training has provided a reservoir of manpower for the Liberian government.

“As a result of the intensive training provided to the GAC staff and the various capacity building initiatives undertaken such as establishing cooperation arrangements with other Supreme Audit Institutions,” he said, “the GAC, for the first time produced and submitted audit reports to the National Legislature.”

There is also increased transparency and awareness on the work of the GAC as the GAC reports are put on the GAC website immediately they are presented to the Legislature, he said.

According to him, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) was one of the first institutions in Liberia to develop a 5 year strategic plan.

“This SP was developed in collaboration with the African Organization for Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI-E) and the Swedish National Audit Office and is being implemented over a five year period from 2009 to 2013,” the EU-seconded consultant said, adding, “in line with the LIMA Declaration, the GAC has attained some operational independence in that it can recruit, retain and remunerate its own staff and has an HR policy in line with the Liberian labor laws.”

He said the EU support to the GAC has been very beneficial, as it has assisted in building a robust Audit Office which is slowly gaining a lot of recognition within the international community.

“The foresight by the EC to support an independent GAC and Auditor General was magnificent as the results can now be seen. I say thank you to them,” he said. “The Auditor General in Liberia and his staff have also been magnificent. Without them, it would have been very difficult to achieve what we have achieved within a very short period of time.”

He however noted that financial independence has been a challenge to most Supreme Audit Institutions, including the GAC.

“At times this has been because of the limited resources while in certain cases it has been purely the desire to frustrate the efforts of the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI),” he asserted. “In my view, building a financially and operationally independent SAI not only enhances the credibility of the political leadership but also builds confidence among the electorates.”

EU support has made GAC the center of excellence as it is now the first choice for employment by new graduates and the number one place for recruitment by government agencies and private sector companies like commercial banks. The provision of a long term technical trainer in a post war country has been the most important thing that EU did. As today, unlike other GEMAP programs, EU is building the largest manpower capacity in Government.

EU support to an independent AG has also proven the beneficial to the whole Government and the Republic, as GAC has been able to push a lot of reforms such as revision of the PPCC Act, drafting and passage of the PFM Act, 2009, etc. Now GAC is pushing reforms of corporate governance in state owned enterprises.

GAC lacks financial independence, as the Ministry of Finance still determines its budget and its submits payment vouchers to the ministry just like another ministry. This has limited independence and prevented GAC being 1977 LIMA satisfied, the international best practice standards promulgated by INTOSAI.

AG Morlu has tried to supplement EU support by leveraging resources with SAI. So GAC do joint audits with other SAIs. GAC first 31 audits were joint audits with Ghana and Zambia, with Ghana sending 27 and Zambia 10 people. This has added to the quality of the audit reports to meet INTOSAI Standards.

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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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