June 16, 2010
GAC release indicates that the overall budget increase during fiscal period 2009/2010 for the GAC by the Executive was US$15,400 while the National Legislature provided US$500,000 but this amount provided by the Legislature is a near-zero increment for the Commission since it was frozen by the Ministry of Finance.
The frozen amount has considerably undermined the work of the GAC as GAC does not have funding for auditors to print audit observations. Staff also have to daily purchase essential supplies like papers, inks, tissues, water; etc to run day to day activities of the Commission.
Much less, there is difficulty to do any meaningful work outside of Monrovia.GAC has 5 working vehicles, including the Auditor General vehicle which is also used for audits.GAC has an old generator that has virtually outlived its capacity and usefulness to supply power to the entire GAC building. It breaks down regularly and GAC staff and its surrounding are potential threat of health hazard since huge plume of smoke often evades the building causing dizziness, cough and unfavorable working environment. Vendors have also refused to do any business with the GAC.
GAC reechoes calls on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to instruct the Minister of Finance to unfreeze the said amount for GAC as the President promised to do so on 5 April 2010 and 14 May 2010.
Meanwhile GAC says it will further be strangulated in the Draft 2010/2011 National Budget which is currently before the National Legislature when this new budget for this new fiscal period remains as it is.
For example, almost all of the line items under goods and services are reduced drastically. For example, in the current 2009-2010 budget domestic means of travel reduced from US15, 000 to zero, domestic daily subsistence allowances reduced from US$10,000 to zero and domestic incidental allowance from US$5,000 to zero in Draft national Budget before the Legislature. This reduction is further intended to stall our auditors from conducting audit of the County Development Fund since auditors have to be stationed for months in the 15 political subdivisions assessing and verifying projects in those counties.
Another area of keen interest to the GAC in the Draft Budget of 2010-2011 focused on Capital Acquisition like vehicles from US$90,000 in the 2009-2010 to zero, office furniture and furnishing from US$10,000 in the 2009-2010 to nothing, computers and related equipment from US$ 40,000 to nothing and acquisition and renovation of regional offices from US$50,000 to zero.
GAC, which is also part of International Organization of Supreme Auditing Institution (INTOSAI), African Organization of Supreme Auditing Institution (AFROSAI-E) and other international auditing institutions and bodies may not partner with those international bodies since its budget for foreign travel is being reduced from US70,000 in the 2009-2010 to US$ 6,000 in the Draft Budget. Also Foreign Daily subsistence and Foreign Incidental Allowances reduced from US$50,000 to US$3,000 and US$5,000 to US$500 respectively.
GAC re-emphasizes the importance of a Supreme Auditing Institution (SAI) like the GAC to be financially independent; that is acquisition of direct budgetary support through the National Legislature as spelt out in the International Organization of Supreme Auditing Institution (INTOSAI) standard to avoid strangulation and suppression of the work of SAI by those who may personally have disagreement with the SAI and may vent same by stalling the smooth operation of the SAI.
GAC says it is not an easy task to fight corruption anywhere around the world and that it is even more difficult to do in our country where corruption has been the way of life for decades; but GAC remains committed to work untiringly to name, shame and blame people entrusted in public offices who siphoned public fund.GAC says the fight to flush out fiscal improprieties, fraud, abuse of resources and graft remain unabated as the Commission is increasingly vigilant in helping the Government of Liberia fight public enemy number one as declared by the President.
For Further Information, Please Contact Ernest S. Maximore
Director of Communications, GAC: Tel:06578796/04949926