opinionBy Stephen Binda
Since the controversial oil beef involving Mr. Robert Sirleaf and Honorable Edwin Snowe took an unimaginable 'agriculture' break, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) has taken over the political stage with another Robert at the core of controversy.
Interestingly, this time around, the oil is out of the subject; however, restructuring the GAC alongside the redundancy of over 40 employees has taken over the newspapers headlines with the new Auditor General, Robert Kilby, is at the front of the political burner receiving lashes from some former workers and members of the public who I believe have been deprived of the hidden facts of the GAC saga.
Mr. Robert Kilby has cited budgetary constrained and overlapping of functions as two administrative reasons that triggered the redundancy. Notably, these 40 plus employees, received over US$20,000.00 to US$6,000 as severance benefits which they now enjoy with the wives, girlfriends and friends.
Disappointingly, after receiving such huge funding, they resurfaced terming their redundancy as 'illegal' thus calling for the removal of the Auditor General of Liberia. In my mind folks this is a complete joke in the devil's empire taking place on Christmas Eve.
It beats my imagination that after receiving such funding, former employees of the GAC would refer to their redundancy as 'illegal'. Perhaps our brothers appear to be driven by 'political forces' rather than the forces of legality and administrative procedures.
However, I am not too sure that all of the 40 plus redundant are a part of this muddle but rather troublesome few who one may referred to as 'political heartless employee's couple with criminals." A classic example was the vandalizing of private properties and the stealing of lawmakers' car batteries by criminals claiming to be students of the Student Unification Party, of the University of Liberia on Capitol Hill, minutes after Mr. Kibly public hearing.
As it appears now, Auditor Robert Kilby seems to be the bad guy who is being left in the cool with many leaving behind key critical administrative issues raised by him recently when he appeared before members of the National Legislature.
Perhaps, not many would recalled that during said presentation, the Auditor General made mentioned of over 137 persons just in administration with a little over 155 trained auditors. He said the GAC has nearly over 100 audit trainees or (cadets) who also get pay regularly.
Interestingly, he noted that out of a budget of a little over US$6million, US$5.3million is being expended annually on salaries, lest to mention the over 25 janitors at the GAC some of which receive US$1600.00 on a monthly basis while auditors are paid US$400 to US$700. Where in this world folks janitors would earn more money than professional auditors?
Folks, the basic questions that one needs to ask now are: Does the GAC need 137 persons just in administration? Does the GAC need over 25 janitors with a salary of US$1600 each monthly? If US$5.3million is expended just on salaries annually, are there possibilities of auditors being pay well? Can the GAC meet its internal needs regularly? When was the last, the GAC released an audit report on our foreign embassies abroad? Does the GAC have money to audit our embassies? Does the GAC have employees' buses to take the over 400 workers home despite expending US$32,000 on fuel monthly? Absolutely not!
Information released by the GAC, have also shown that for the last six years, only a little over 100 audits were conducted by former Auditor General John Morlu, which represents 10 percent of the total audits that should have been conducted over the period of time. Uhmmm.
If these problems do exist at the GAC, than it is just fair that the process of restructuring takes place, though some folks may lose their jobs. It is however important to note that if a person can accept being employed by an entity; he should also expect to be dismissed, redundant or resign in the future. These things happened folks.
Folks, if these assertions by the new Auditor General are indeed true, than one can safely say that the former Auditor General did not do well for Liberia despite him been praised by some 'pocket driven student political supporters as well as majority of dozens of unlettered citizens.'
A classic evidence of Morlu's hideous work is the latest European Union which among other things condemned nearly all of the audit reports released by him. The report among other things also pinpoint key reasons that led to the withdrawer of financial support to the GAC. See full report: http://www.gacliberia.com/content.php?sub=203&related=29&third=203&pg=sp
Folks let's call spade a spade, the GAC need to be overhauled and more standards need to be instituted by the new Auditor General. Lest we forget that some of those who were redundant did not however fit into the realignment plan introduced by the new Auditor General of Liberia.
'Jobless' politics Issue
Interestingly, as the debate enters its third week, many including officials of the Liberia National Student Union, have termed the recent redundancy as a slapped in the face of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's pronouncement of Job opportunities for young people.
In as much I do agree that jobs must be provided for all, it should however, be done at a more professional level and not on the basis of tribalism, friendship or unprofessionalism. Why it is true, that some of those redundant are qualified, however, bulk of whom are administrators and not auditors.
Employing over 20 janitors and 137 administrative staffers at the GAC with 16 persons in the office of the Auditor General with a salaries of US$1600 to 5,000 monthly is not job creation; especially when the heartbeat of the institution (Auditors) are being paid US400 to US$700 monthly; lest to mention them walking on foot to go conduct government audits. Let's be serious, the GAC needs to move forward come what may.
Laughable enough folks, the student group (LINSU) also went further to issue a 72 hours ultimatum to the GAC boss calling for the immediate reinstatement of the redundant workers. Hahaahaha.
They then vowed to take 'less busy students' to the streets in he fails to hail to their orders which they did on last Saturday. They also threatened to make the GAC ungovernable under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Robert Kibly. These statements in my mind, are chargeable under our laws and also show, how LINSU is heading down hill.
I tend to wonder whether if LINSU is now a political party or a student group. Can taking to the street solve the existing problem? Assuming it can, did they obtain a permit from the Justice Ministry as require by law? Government needs to now institute measures to avoid the reoccurrence of said action.
If for any reason, LINSU would want to seek the interest of their colleagues, let it be done through a channel by providing competent lawyers on the basis of pro-bono aimed at taking the GAC to court, if there are any claims; rather than making empty noise in the city center.
LINSU latest comment remains me of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) action in the 2011 presidential elections, which I don't intent to detail further. The court will save the day for those who feel aggrieved and not the political AK 47 rifle with empty rounds.
The functions of the Auditor General are derived from Chapter 53, section 53.3 of the 1972 Executive Law of Liberia. The Act stipulates that, "The Auditor-General shall be the officer of the Government principally responsible for conducting comprehensive post audits, special financial investigations, reconciliation's and analysis, and continuous audits on a routine basis."
This means, that the GAC more or less is a technical institution whose responsibility is to audit and report made directly to members of the National Legislature. GAC does not report to the President as many may think according to the Act establishing the commission.
In my mind, the GAC needs more auditors than 137 persons in administration and over 100 audit trainees. It is disgusting for a professional auditor to be pay US$400 to US$700 when a secretary or janitors earn US$1100 to US$1600 monthly.
John Morlu spoiled GAC and Kilby needs to fix it. Da me Stephen Binda say so.
Mr. Stephen Binda is a Liberian Journalist who speaks his mind like Jesus Christ. He can be Mobile: 0886711943 / Email: