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We need comprehensive accountability and transparency in public expenditure

The House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Monrovia has, no doubt, become a complete disgrace to the people of Liberia, whose interest they should be representing at all levels.

Claims of misrepresentation by its members in certain quarters of the Liberian society may just be justified by the dubiousity of the activities and transactions in which they continue to be engaged since their incumbency.

 The appropriation of huge budgetary allotments to themselves every year to the ratification of ‘concession deals against the interest of  Liberian civil servants they claim to represent to the recent ‘scandal’ in which they are now entangled may just be the true characteristics of the nature of people in whose hands the trusteeship of the constituents are placed.

Of late, a Lawmaker of Bong County in Central Liberia (and also former Co-Chairman of the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget) agreed to submit himself to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC for investigation under pressure from some of his colleagues for signing blank checks for transactions in connection with the money used last year for the nation-wide consultations on the new petroleum law of Liberia.

The action of Representative Prince Moye of District Number Two in Bong County, according to his colleagues, was in total violation of Section 1, part A 10, 16, 17 and 20 of the Public Procurement Financial Laws or PFM, and that there was need to investigate the Speaker and his deputy on the issue of the US$900,000.00 or US$1.2m reportedly received from the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL, even though the company has already disclaimed such report.

While we may not want to repeat the entire scenario at the House of Representatives, it is obviously clear that indeed, such financial scam took place, and that the former Chairman Emmanuel Nuquoy and former Co-Chairman Prince Moye of the Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, as well as the former Chairman of the Committee on Rules, Order and Administration, Edwin Snowe, Speaker Alex Tyler and Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue must face full investigation.

Moreover, the urgent need for a comprehensive audit of the entire Liberian Legislature by the General Auditing Commission or GAC cannot be over-emphasized. Such GAC audit must cover the period of 9-years since the incumbency of the government.

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 It is not only unfortunate, but unfair and frustrating to the Liberian people to ensure accountability and transparency in expending public funds only in the Executive Branch of Government, while the Legislative Branch of Government is immune from GAC audit.

Infect, there are reports that a recent comprehensive audit of the Legislature commissioned by the Auditor General of Liberia, Ms. Yusador S. Gaye, was thwarted by members of the House of Representatives- probably, for fear of the exposure of their ‘ dubious and wicked financial’ deals against the interest of those they claim to represent.

If and only if these reports emanating from Capitol Hill about ‘blocking the GAC Audit’ are the facts, Auditor General Gaye must make such action on the part of the lawmakers very clear to the public so that the people would know the true nature of those who claim to represent them. The GAC must be proactive not only in this direction, but immediately following the submission of audit reports to the PAC.

While our intention is not to ridicule the Legislature, especially the House of Representatives, we think the issue of ensuring accountability and transparency in public resources must be done across-the-board  or comprehensively, and not restricted to ministries, agencies, autonomous agencies and commissions under the Executive Branch of government.

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