President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has vetoed the much trumpeted 4G Financial Autonomy Act passed by the both Houses of the Liberian Legislature citing lack of financial management system on Capitol Hill.
In her letter dated September 14, 2016, President Sirleaf said given the volume of the financial transactions conducted even now, the Legislature still has not established an appropriate financial management control system to show financial and managerial accountability.
Moreover, President Sirleaf indirectly questioned the need for an additional financial autonomy when the Legislature already enjoys a certain degree of autonomy saying “because funds are transferred periodically to it.”
She quoted section 4 of the bill, suggesting immunity from external (GAC) audit, and that the Legislature has not subjected itself to an audit that would scrutinize the structure and performance of its existing financial management system, while insisting that, that body follows the rules on the management of funds.
“Mr. Presiding Officer, as you know, Article 35 of the Constitution of Liberia gives the president the authority to approve or not to approve a bill that is laid before the president. By virtue of the authority in me vested under Article 35, I cannot approve this bill, and must therefore veto the bill in its entirety principally because of the reasons and concerns summarized above,” the communication said.
She, however, promised to work with the Legislature on issues with the hope that at an appropriate time would be able to revisit the matter and derive an efficient and effective financial control system for the Legislative Branch of Government.
Meanwhile, the Plenary of the House of Representatives has forwarded the communication to the house’s Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Judiciary to report on Thursday, September 22, 2016.
The bill sponsored, by Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, seeks to ensure that funds allotted to the Liberian Legislature in the national budget are in each fiscal year deposited quarterly into the account of the Legislature at the Central Bank of Liberia.
The bill provides that each deposit is made no later than two weeks into each quarter, and that the management and processing of all documents relating to the administration of such allotment shall be subject to compliance with all provisions of the Public Procurement and Concessions bill.
According to the bill, administration of said budget shall also be in compliance with the Public Financial Management Law, Internal Audit Agency Act, new National Budget Law of Liberia, as well as all government adopted accounting standards and procedures and shall be audited annually by the General Auditing Commission, GAC.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor