Monrovia — The General Auditing Commission (GAC) has completed an audit of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and submitted the report to the National Legislature on April 6, 2021. The report finds material financial and administrative deficiencies in the management of NPHIL for the fiscal years 2016/2017 and 2017/2018.
The GAC audit observed that the then Director General (DG) of NPHIL who prior to his appointment as Deputy Minister of Health at the Ministry of Health (MOH) was paid by both entities for three (3) months: January, February, and April of 2017. The Ministry of Health paid US$10,803.13 and L$297,532.34 and NPHIL paid US$24,000.00 and L$624,000.00 in net salaries. The GAC says that the double payment should be refunded to the Government of Liberia.
The report noted that transactions for various goods and services were processed and paid without supporting documents in the amounts of US$136,556.12 and L$15,345,949.02 from the Government of Liberia funding provided to NPHIL.
Further, the report says Management did not maintain payment vouchers along with the necessary supporting documents for several transactions in the amount of US$354,611.25 recorded in the ledgers of World Health Organization (WHO) Funds provided to NPHIL. The GAC says it requested the documents several times from Management during the conduct of the audit but management did not provide the documents.
The GAC observed that the NPHIL Management did not remit to the Consolidated Account in keeping with the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2009 unspent/closing cash balance of US$219,749.55 left in its bank accounts. The PFM requires that amounts not spent or committed by spending entities by the end of each fiscal year should be sent to the consolidated fund for reallocation.
According to the audit report, Liberia National Fire Service through its Fire Safety Teams of Inspectors recommended to NPHIL to purchase fire extinguishers and accessories for NPHIL's use in the amount of L$443,407.00. However, the report observed that the payment for the fire extinguishers and accessories was signed for and received by Liberia National Fire Service Teams of Inspectors on behalf of the supplier.
The GAC report further observed that Management made payment in the amount of L$162,000.00 from the Government of Liberia funds to an employee of NPHIL for catering services instead of the caterer. Further, the Management of NPHIL made payments in the amount of US$29,155.00 from World Health Organization Funds in the names of employees of NPHIL for subsequent disbursements to the service providers/beneficiaries rather than make the payments directly to the providers or their authorized representatives as required by the Public Financial Management Act of 2009.
Payments for fuel/gasoline and scratch card in the amounts of US$25,255.53 and US$129,887.55 were made from UNICEF and World Health Organization Funds respectively without evidence of distribution to the end users, according to the report.
The National Public Health Institute of Health is Liberia's equivalent of the United States Government's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its establishment was accelerated by Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia in 2014. Its primary functions in collaboration with the Ministry of Health according to NPHIL's website are strengthening existing infection prevention and control effort, laboratories surveillance, infectious disease control, public health capacity building, response to outbreaks, and monitoring of diseases and epidemic potential.