17 February 2014

Liberia: PAC Hearing Reveals No Fraud, Corruption

The Board of Commissioners of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority was before the legislative Joint Committee on Public Accounts on Friday, answering questions on the ten month period in 2009 during which the entity spent US$ without a signed budget.

The periods included three months under the Bropleh Administration; six weeks under the helm of Commissioner Lamini Waritay and a period under the leadership of current Chairperson Angelique Weeks.

Chairperson Weeks and former Commissioner Waritay explained that during their tenures the LTA did indeed operate without a signed budget, but the expenses incurred and funds disbursed were to re-occurring expenses and to do otherwise would have caused the LTA to cease operation.

The committee, however came down hard on the fact that the expenditure was unauthorized but acknowledged there was no fraud or corruption in the period under review. Chairman Weeks acknowledged the LTA has yet to complete its Fixed Assets Registry, which is an important criteria for public accountability. LTA is about 5% away from completion of the registry.

When asked if she would take responsibility for the $ LTA spending, which includes periods when she was not at the helm, the LTA Chair told the committee that she could not take responsibility for expenditure prior to her taking over. The LTA also responded to the PPCC's letter exposed in last week's Truth F.M. Radio Broadcast.

Chairman Weeks said she appreciated the fact the letter came to light because she maintains she had never seen it prior to the publication in the newspaper. She acknowledges the LTA may have received the letter at its 12th Street Office where it was signed in, but, it did not get to her office at the V.P. Road location on the Old Road.

The contents of the PPCC letter in question Chairman Weeks maintain posed questions the LTA could have swiftly answered. The Procurement Plan requested in the letter LTA claims had already been submitted on August 29, 2013 and the LTA has a receipt indicating it was received by PPCC employee Ruby Nabie.

Other questions in the letter printed in the paper the LTA maintain were answered through the Expression of Interest documents submitted to the PPCC earlier. 'We have taken the necessary steps to tighten our internal controls' LTA Public Affairs Director told our reporter at the Capitol Building after the Public Accounts Committee Hearing, 'The LTA is continuing its internal investigation to determine where the lapse occurred and the appropriate measures to avoid such occurrences going forward.'

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