Many Liberians were taken by surprise last week by a unanimous decision of the House of Representatives in Capitol Hill for a financial and procurement audit of the Central Bank of Liberia or CBL.
The decision by Plenary- the highest decision-making body of the House of Representatives continues to receive mix reactions across the country, with most Liberians raising serious eye-brows at the justification provided by the progenitor of the decision- Representative Edwin Snowe of Montserrado County District Number Six.
In his communication addressed to the House of Representatives, Mr. Snowe assumed that the CBL, had over the last few months, been engaged in providing financial assistance or loans outside of the National Budget through commercial banks, further indicating that the Bank must be audited to make sure that ‘public funds are not used for political motives or as way of buying future votes.’
The communication noted that it was essential for members of the House of Representatives to ensure that the exercises implemented by the Central Bank are done within the confines of the law, and as such, the General Auditing Commission or GAC and Public Procurement and Concession Commission or PPCC must be mandated to conduct a comprehensive financial and procurement audit of the CBL.
“I write seeking the indulgence of Plenary to mandate the GAC and the PPCC to conduct a comprehensive financial and procurement audit of the CBL to enable us have an informed and predicated knowledge of its undertakings as per the law,” Snowe’s communication to Plenary said.
It has now been made public that the House’s decision for an audit of the CBL in consonance with the law, especially the new GAC Act in which it is stipulated that all government institutions be audited by the commission. Unfortunately, the new GAC Act was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the President of Liberia without any awareness- whether on Capitol Hill or among auditors of the General Auditing Commission until the recent issue regarding the audit of the CBL. Even the GAC Administration-being cognizant of the foregoing, has been conspicuous silent on the passage of its new Act- not even informing its own auditors about such development.
Interestingly, the unpublicized new GAC Act may not be in conformity with the Act creating the Central Bank, which restricts any audit of the institution to an international exercise commissioned by the Board of Governors of the bank – a provision that may not have been over-ruled by the new GAC Act.
Be that as the foregoing may, it is no secret that the decision by Snowe and likes to influence the House’s Plenary for such a decision was politically driven by just simply critically analyzing the tone of the communication written by the Montserrado County District Number Six Representative: “the Bank must be audited to make sure that public funds are not used for political motives or as way of buying future votes.’
It may only suggest that CBL Governor Mills Jones is being seen as a threat by Representative Snowe and other executives of the People United Party or PUP they organized to produce a presidential candidate from the Legislature (according to Mr. Edwin Snowe sometimes ago), and that everything must be done to ‘subdue’ him, beginning with an audit of the CBL.
While the decision to conduct a comprehensive financial and procurement audit of the CBL may be in the interest of the people of Liberia, the character of individuals behind such drive and their known political motives- under the guise of the new GAC Act, continue to remain very questionable.
Regrettably, the House of Representatives is mandating an audit of the Central Bank, while its members have and continue to reject any public call for an audit of the entire Legislature, owing to the frustrations and financial improprieties incurred by many Liberian counties and districts over the years as the direct results of interferences and manipulations by many Representatives and Senators under the guise of “oversight responsibility” (see GAC audit reports of the counties).
If the House of Representatives is vehemently opposed and resentful to a comprehensive audit of the entire Legislature, what moral ground or integrity would the people of Liberia see in the Legislature for an audit of other national independent institutions? Members of the House of Representatives must first cast the first stones and then…..
Again, auditing the Central Bank of Liberia may be good and in the interest of the public, but the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill must first cast the first stone by ensuring a comprehensive financial and procurement audit of the entire Liberian Legislature.