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IAA’s audit digs deep

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-indicts NPHIL, MOH

The Executive Summary of a COVID-19 Draft Audit Report prepared by the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) here on the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and the Ministry of Health reveals how over US$50 million were expended by both institutions for the period February 2 – June 30, 2020 without proper accountability and outside of regulatory procedures.

The audit report, submitted since September 20, 2020 nearly a month prior to the suspicious death of the IAA boss Emmanuel Barten Nyeswua inside his compound along SKD Boulevard in Paynesville outside Monrovia, among others, observes there is no evidence of approval of funds expended from the COVID-19 National Response Budget, coupled with comingling of COVID-19 Fund (USD996,300.00) with Ministry of Health Operational Account Number 00100115021904 and 0010011501008294, including concealment of USD71,500.00 Transaction.

Mr. Nyeswua reportedly died as a result of falling from the first floor of his residence, days after three two internal auditors and a senior tax officers – Albert Peters, Victoria Asmah ‘Gifty’ Lamah and George F. Fanboto, all from the Liberia Revenue Authority died in mysterious circumstances. The four deaths occurred in a span of eight days, from October 3-10, 2020.

But the report says there is no evidence of Liquidation Report for Cash Advances totaling USD7,261.00 and LRD2,900,800.00, respectively during the period, including making payments to purported vendors without valid contracts, while allowance valued USD 79,212..00 for March, 2020 vanished in thin air.

It points to lack of Procurement Plan and “No Objection” Authorization from the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) for contracts valued USD913,675.00, while other contracts valued USD84,880.00 were overstated.

The IAA audit also discovers discrepancy in disbursements of compensation made to casual laborers at Star Base on Bushrod Island, including overpayment to Blessed 1 Luxury valued USD120, 604.20.

“Blessed 1 Luxury TIN [Tax Identification Number] is not found in the LRA Online Application and PPC Procurement Platform; No Evidence of GOL Tax Remittances from POCs’ Payments valued USD29, 318.36; and Contradiction of transaction (Simple Source)”, the audit executive summary reads.

The IAA backgrounds that on January 30, 2020, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of COID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International concern and issued a set of recommendations, noting that based on the Public Health Emergency, the Government of Liberia started preparations for the COVD-19 virus on February 2, 2020 at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and recorded its first case on March 16, 2020.

President George Manneh Werah then set up the Special Presidential Advisory Committee on Corona Virus (SPACOC) to build a robust national control, coordination and command mechanism in order to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19.

Accordingly, the Incident Management System (IMS) was activated at NPHIL with its dismissed Director General Dorector Masoka Fallah serving as the Incident Manager and Head of the Response Team from February 2, 2020 to April 15, 2020.

On April 16, 2020, the responsibility for the management of COVID-19 response was transferred to Minister of Health, Doctor Wilhelmina Jallah.

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