Thursday, May 5, 2011

Liberia: U.S18 Million Gone - Finance Officials Have No Documents

Source: All Africa

Officials at the Ministry of Finance say they do not have records for an estimated US18m out of US$29,948,027 earmarked for Domestic Debt, according to the General Auditing Commission (GAC).

A GAC audit report released last week and which concerns the Domestic Public Debt of Liberia, is said to be the first of its kind to be conducted by the GAC under outgoing Auditor General John Morlu.

According to the report covering a three-year period (2006-2009), a total of US$29,948,027 was set aside for the Debt Management Unit (DMU) at the Finance Ministry in order to settle claims and arrears of domestic debt.

Unfortunately, the audit document indicates, the DMU was able to only account for a little over US$9 million, sending the rest of the money - that is, more than US$18 million - into the sea of wastefulness and corruption.

The report: "For the three fiscal years under review, a total of US$29,948,027 was appropriated for the settlement of domestic debt claims and arrears. However, of the total appropriated, US$27,671,152.91 (as per the fiscal outturns) was reported spent on settlement of domestic debt claims and arrears. The Debt Management Unit (DMU) of the Ministry of Finance was able to provide supporting documentation to account for ONLY US$9,051,375.07 of the US$27,671,152.91 reported spent on debt payments. This created undocumented and unjustified payments of US$18,619,777.84. These undocumented and unjustified payments represented 67 percent of the domestic debt reported as being paid for the period under audit."

Meanwhile, when the Auditor General requested that full documentation be provided in order to acquit the undocumented expenditure, Deputy Minister for Debt Management and Expenditure, Mr. Arthur Fumbah responded, "The DMU has been able to locate additional payment vouchers covering period 2007, 2008 and 2009 amounting to US$3,376,331.76 and LD$118,209,196.34. The DMU is in the process of locating more vouchers."

However, the GAC, through AG Morlu, expressed disappointment that financial documents and records, as basic as vouchers and approved allotments, which are historical documents and should be made available for audit upon request, cannot be provided by the Ministry of Finance, saying: "If I am to accept the amounts presented by the DME, then it is therefore unacceptable that US$15,221,532.92 was purportedly spent over the course of three years for domestic debt payment, yet the most basic and first source records such as vouchers and approved allotments cannot be located by the Ministry of Finance. The US$3,465,383.51 and L$118,259,196.78 vouchers provided are not sufficient to account for the unsupported domestic debt payments made. The vouchers presented do not have underlying records to provide assurance for the amounts presented by the DME."

It may be recalled that in the 2008 US State Department Human Rights Report, the US government said that corruption was at most levels of the Sirleaf-led administration. In its 2009 Report, it said that corruption was at all levels of the Government. Then in its 2010 Report, it says that corruption has been exacerbated and it pervades all levels of the Sirleaf administration with impunity.

The US government also expressed frustration over the fact that, in spite of former AG Morlu's effort to promote transparency, accountability and financial probity, the government is not really helping to enhance the process, with Hon. Bruce Wharton, deputy assistant secretary of State for African Affairs, noting: "Liberia's Auditor General has aggressively and thoroughly tracked government revenue from practically every ministry, but the government follow-up has been very disappointing."

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

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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