24 September 2013

Liberia: Sen. Ballout Indicts Senate for Corruption

Senator John Ballout of Maryland County has blamed the entire Liberian Senate for endemic corruption in government.

Sen. Ballout, an executive of President Sirleaf's governing Unity Party, said the constant habit of the Legislature ignoring audit reports submitted by the General Auditing Commission has given government officials, particularly in the Executive courage to condemn the work of the GAC.

He said members of the Executive were now taking advantage of the weakness of the Legislature to carry out more corrupt activities in their various offices.

"We are responsible for the corruption in government to some extent because if we are not acting on the reports submitted to us by the GAC, and government officials are riding on that to be more corrupt, than we are responsible for corruption in the Executive," he noted.

According to him, if those audit reports currently before the lawmakers are looked into and relevant steps taken against indicted officials, members of the Executive and the public wouldn't condemn the reports.

The senator said he foresee more cases like the Chris Toe-Rodney Sieh scenario because most Liberians already have in mind that the GAC reports are not reliable.

He however disagreed with those discrediting the GAC audit reports, saying, "I totally disagree with those who say the audit reports are not credible; the GAC was established by law and the reports coming from the GAC supposed to come before the Legislature to view it and [then] the Executive acts on it, but now we are not viewing these reports; they are piling and piling without acting on them thus, giving members of the Executive the ground to be more corrupt."

Speaking to this paper in an interview over the weekend, Sen. Ballout stressed that the Senate has the authority by law to view audit reports from the General Auditing Commission.

He called on his colleagues to immediately view those audit reports after the annual break, noting that it is about time the Legislature pass a law that stops the President from dismissing Auditor Generals at will. He said such legislation will protect future Auditor Generals in executing their job fearlessly without treat of dismissal.

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