17 May 2018

Liberia: L$4.2M Lost to MCSS Ghosts Teachers

MCSS President Benjamin Jacobs and delegation at the public hearing in the Joint Chamber of the Legislature answering questions about LS4.2m to government because over ghost employees fraud

The Joint Committee on Public Account & Expenditure (PAC) of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate has frowned over the disbursement and the loss of L$4,239,401 to ghost workers of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) from 2012 to 2016.

The Joint PAC Committee of the 54th Legislature, in a public hearing on Wednesday, May 16, said the MCSS did not exhibit "control" and failed to develop strategic and operational plans as well as policies and procedures to prevent such wastes.

Sen. Henry Yallah, chairman of the Joint PAC Committee and members who were in Wednesday's hearing included Rep. Ben Fofana, Rep. Francis Dopoh, Rep. Matthew Zayzay and Sen. George Tengbeh.

The committee's statement followed a two-day public hearing of the MCSS to validate the report of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) of the Auditor General on the MCSS for the Fiscal Years (1 July 2012 and 30 June 2016).

Besides members of the Joint Committee individually expressing their dismay over the corrupting of L$4.2 million by ghost employees, the Committee also accused the MCSS of violating the standing procedure of the Civil Service Agency (CSA) by creating an extra account in GN Bank and deducting salaries of civil servants (teachers) for being absent or abandoned classes without excuses.

The Committee, in a firm tone, also accused the CSA of creating unnecessary bottlenecks on the deletion and addition of names of the CSA's payrolls.

The CSA delegation was headed by Acting Director General Rev. Reginald M. Wade, Sr., while Mr. Benjamin Jacobs, the President of MCSS was the lead witness.

After over two hours of the answer-and-question period to the MCSS and CSA, the Committee, through its Chairman mandated the CSA to work along with the Secretariat of the PAC on the procedure or requirements on deleting and adding names on government payrolls including the necessity of the Personnel Employment Notice (PAN).

Sen. Yallah also instructed the MCSS to submit all documents, including new evidence to the PAC Secretariat to substantiate their claims for not being liable for the ghost names to remain on the MCSS payroll which led to the loss of L$4.2 million.

GAC Observation

According to the report from the GAC, 22 employees were dismissed, died or resigned in 2014/2015 but were maintained on the MCSS payroll for 22 months after the statutory period of the Public Financial Management Law. The loss to government amounted to L$3,132,034.

Also, 10 employees who were dismissed, died or resigned in 2015/2016 were maintained on the MCSS payroll for 20 months after the statutory period, the possible loss amounted to L$507, 367 and a deceased employee in 2013/2014 was maintained on the MCSS payroll for 20 months, which amounted to L$600,000 loss.

The anti-graft institution further accused MCSS of undisclosed Non-Tax Revenue for the audit report review period.

"The MCSS Management did not disclose in its financial statements internally generated funds such as school fees and other related fees for the period under the audit. An analysis of the bank statements revealed that the Management of MCSS collected a total of US$46,452.75 and LD$10,476.486.19 for fiscal years 2012/ 2013 and 2014/2015," the GAC said.

But in response to the GAC report, MCSS Superintendent Benjamin Jacobs denied deliberately maintaining ghost names on government's payroll.

If there are names on MCSS's payroll, according to him, his institution should not be responsible because MCSS has written CSA to notifying them of employees that are not in the employ of the institution.

The MCSS Human Resource (HR) officer said their documentation shows that CSA has been written to delete names of employees dismissed, resigned or died from the payroll.

The CSA's Acting Director General, Rev. Wade, promised to look up and review the letters submitted by the MCSS, though he does not believe that his most recent predecessors, Dr. Puchu Bernard and George K. Werner, would ignore the request of the MCSS to delete ghost names from the payroll.

Meanwhile, if the Plenaries of the House and Senate approved the Joint PAC Report of who to be liable for the L$4.2 million and tens of thousands of United States Dollars, it will be sent to President George M. Weah for prosecution.

Authors

Leroy M. Sonpon, III

Liberia

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