Members of the House of Representatives have debated heatedly here on the need to audit their Committee on Ways, Means, Finance, and Budget. The debate started Tuesday, after the reading of a communication from Nimba County Representative Worlea Saywah Dunah in plenary.
“I write to extend my sentiments and bring to the attention of this august plenary the persistent violation of the rule of this body by the leadership of the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance, and Budget as they have failed to provide quarterly financial report to this body and to prepare our budget as the rule requires,” the letter dated September 8, 2016 reads.
According to Representative Dunah, the violation specifically refers to Rule 57.4 (b) of the House of Representatives, which says: “All matters relating to the finances of the House, preparation of the House’s budget and the custody and disbursement of the House’s funds subject to the approval of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker.”
He also quotes Rule 57.4 (h) which requires the committee to produce written financial report every three months, which according to him, the committee head has reneged to execute. The Nimba County lawmaker further pointed out that consistent with the provisions mentioned, it is mandatory that the finance committee provide written financial report quarterly, but said unfortunately, for the fiscal year 2015/16 it had failed to produce a single report as per its mandate. “This action has incapacitated us, their peers from knowing what the status of our finances is for the entire fiscal year,” the letter furthered.
Representative Dunah added that the House’s budget is passed along with the National Budget, but said unfortunately, they have not received copy of their budget as again required by the rule, adding the failure raises accountability issues as it appears to be a deliberate action by the committee’s leadership headed by Lofa County Representative Moses Kollie to keep the plenary uninformed about their finances.
He stressed that it is therefore, important for plenary to note that in addition to the same committee’s leadership failure to process the national budget within statutory time, a situation which has compared them to extend session and set up a technical committee under plenary to expedite the Liberian people’s business – due to the committee’s complete disregard for accountability and transparency as the rules required.
During the debate, Montserrado County Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe requested plenary to call for an audit of the committee for the sake of transparency and accountability. For his part, Congress for Democratic Change Lawmaker Acarous Gray said, it will make sense for the House to be audited since in fact, they as lawmakers, similarly request audit of government’s ministries and agencies.
Countering his colleagues, Representative Moses Kollie denied the allegation, indicating that he had on several occasions, presented report to plenary, but during executive session.
Meanwhile, the communication has been forwarded to committee room for proper advice to plenary within a week.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor & Bridgett Milton -Editing by Jonathan Browne