10 July 2013

Liberia: House Endorses Kilby Dismissal

Robert Kilby, the man who was dismissed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday July 8, 2013, fate has been decided with the plenary of the House of Representatives overwhelmingly endorsing her request to concur the dismissal of the former Auditor General. The House reached the decision yesterday after the President's communication was read on the floor of the chambers during its regular session on Capitol Hill.

Section 53.2 of the amended Act creating the General Auditing Commission provides that the AG shall be removed by the President for gross malfeasance in office or for mental or physical disability or incompetence.

In the President's communication to House Speaker and members of the House in session yesterday, the Liberian leader told the lawmakers that AG Kilby failed to disclose to her his shareholding in private entities that have concluded service contracts with the General Services Agency (GSA). President Sirleaf said it is clear from the documents that are before the Ways, Means and Finance Committee which she received over the weekend shoing that a company controlled by Mr. Kilby obtained a contract from the GSA that violated the country's financial and procurement laws and procedures.

According to law, President Sirleaf added that the AG is the officer of Government principally responsible for conducting comprehensive post audits, special financial investigations, reconciliation and analyses and continuous audits on a routine basis. In this regard, the President indicated the AG is required to inspect the books of account of privately-owned commercial establishments to verify transactions with Government agencies.

The President also wrote in her letter that she does not believe that Mr. Kilby can independently and impartially perform his function on behalf of Government on an enterprise in which he has or has had direct financial interest.

"The AG has represented to your Honorable Body that financial autonomy is needed because the GAC does not get its budgetary allotments to facilitate its work. On the contrary, the Ministry of Finance reports that its records show that close to ninety-eight percent or US$6.1 million of the appropriation for the Commission was disbursed to the GAC. This includes US$5,135,855 for the Commission's core budget, out of which US$4.6 million was used for allowances and compensation," President Sirleaf wrote in her letter to the House.

Moreover, on appeal to her, President Sirleaf mentioned that the final disbursement of moneys due the GAC was made in June. Portions of those funds were used by the AG to give "bonuses" to the bulk of the Commission's staff at amounts ranging from US$100 for low level staff to US$9,000 for senior management. These funds according to the President were allocated for other purposes including flash audits; but no such audits have been reported.

"I find it reprehensible for the AG to use funds allocated for other purposes to provide bonuses to those, because of the nature of their services, who are already paid well above the level paid to comparable public officials," President Sirleaf stated.

Minutes after the letter was read by the Chief Clerk of the House, several lawmakers including Ricks Tweh, Edwin Melvin Snowe, Garya Karmo, Fofi Saah Bamba, Saywah Dunnah, among others lauded President Sirleaf for intensifying the fight against corruption by dismissing the officials of Government for gross malfeasance.

The lawmakers with the exception of Grand Bassa County Representative Byron Brown who opposed the President's communication on grounds that Kilby should be invited by the House to hear his side of the story before any endorsement. His attempt to influence the decision of other lawmakers who felt it was time for the Kilby to go was massively defeated.

"Let him restitute the money or taken to the LACC or Ministry of Justice for prosecution. Kilby is a complete national embarrassment. He dismissed 41 persons and later brought in 63 after he has complained about budgetary constrain. It is a right step because we all need to be a part of the reform process. Conflict of interest is a serious issue, so let us support the President in this endeavor," Those were comments from some lawmakers yesterday debating Kilby's dismissal.

At the end of the debate, Montserrado County Representative Acarious Moses Gray made a motion that the House should mandate its Chief Clerk to reply the President informing her acknowledged receipt of her letter with an endorsement but Mr. Robert Kilby and GSA Director Ms. Pearine Davis-Parkinson should be turned over to the LACC or the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.

The motion was seconded and overwhelmingly voted for with an amendment that the two officials should be declared a non-governmental material. There were 36 votes for, none against and one abstention.

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