9 January 2013

Liberia: Senate Swoops

When the Legislature resumes normal sessions on a date yet to be announced, a thorough investigation into two key decisions recently taken by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) will be undertaken, according to Senator Edward Dakoseh, Chair on Public Account and Finance.

They are the arbitrary mass dismissal of several employees of the GAC and the total review of over 100 GAC audit reports that have been stockpiled at the Legislature for the past years, he said.

The two issues would be a top priority during the second seating of the Senate at the 53rd Legislature.

"The investigation of the GAC dismissal, and a review of all GAC audit reports would be our priority as a committee during the second seating of the Liberian Senate at the 53rd Legislature," Sen. Dakoseh told journalists during a press briefing at his Capitol Building office Tuesday.

The dismissal of 40 employees at the GAC, some of whom were trained as qualified auditors has raised controversy in several quarters with many describing the issue as "illegal and witch-hunting." Reports said the affected employees were paid off but they have since protested against their arbitrary lay off and threatened legal action against the new Auditor General Robert Kilby.

There has also been a public outcry against the failure of the 52nd Legislature to affirmative actions on the GAC report before making a final recommendation to the President for implementations.

But at the press briefing Tuesday, Sen. Dakoseh said that both the 'GAC dismissal saga' and the review of the GAC audit reports would be prioritized by his committee during the second seating of the Senate.

"We have asked the Auditor General to give his reason on why he had to sack the employees and now, we have to ask the employees on why they think they should not be dismissed. This would be done immediately after we return," he disclosed. But he did not say when the Legislature will resume normal sessions.

With regards to the GAC audit reviewing process, he said the committee has been able to attract a sum of US$500,000 from the World Bank to start the process.

"The money is intended for us to start reviewing the audit reports. This would be done at a public hearing.

I have about 110 audit reports that have not been reviewed," he explained.

Sen. Dakoseh also revealed that to augment the review work, the money would be used for a public hearing during the reviewing process, and that the committee would also have a secretariat which would consist of both international and local consultants to help in the the process.

He clarified that with such work, the implementation of the GAC report would be difficult. "But with the kind of President that we have as a nation, I am confident that those reports would be implemented after the reviewing exercise," he said.

If the reviewing process commences as planned, he said it would be a task unique to the 53rd legislature as their predecessors never embarked on such an exercise to help in the reduction of theft and graft in war-torn Liberia.

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