>Liberia: Scrap the General Auditing Commission (GAC)


>Source: All Africa

From the onset of its re-emergence, the reformed General Auditing Commission (GAC) has attracted controversy. The nature of its role and functions, as conceived by donors, amongst them the European Union, has placed it at the center of bitter duels with several government officials who see it as a meddling and reckless entity designed to ruin their careers and reputation. The substance of its work is lost in haranguing radio talk shows and stupefying polemics better suited for high school debating contests. The GACís worth in restructuring the countryís terrible financial management system, on which any country should rely if resources are to be accounted for the benefit of the population, is recognized largely by outsiders accustomed to dealing with issues of probity, as in the case of US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Bruce Wharton, who declared that:

“Although public financial management has improved, corruption remains prevalent and a significant threat to Liberian democracy. Liberia’s Auditor General has aggressively and thoroughly tracked government revenue from practically every ministry, but the government follow-up has been very disappointing. Some crucial bills affecting key resources such as timber and maritime revenue have been passed without adequate attention to key details. Furthermore, the government must begin addressing a wide variety of issues affecting national reconciliation.”

In its present form, independent with its leadership internationally vetted, and based on the political realities, the GAC has become a declared enemy within official circles because of its modus operandi. It has become a liability for the government as it stands.

We therefore suggest that it should be dissolved with the money spent to have it operational saved for more rewarding endeavours. If this is done, the shouting matches will cease and the media mudslinging on accountability halted. Everyone in government will be happy in one big happy family.

There are other reasons making this problem organization completely unnecessary, amongst them:

A) Its audit reports remain stacked in offices and ignored. Only those in the media interested in how state money is spent take time to go through the bulky and detailed explanations of which government officials allegedly stole how much.

B) According to the US State Department Human Rights report just released, not a single official amongst the dozens listed in several audit reports was deemed necessary for prosecution on the basis of the audits. The report said the Legislature, to which the GAC reports by law, simply did not find it warranted to suggest prosecution for those who allegedly siphoned public funds convinced of state protection.

C) Many of those indirectly removed from their positions due to the audits have been re-appointed to other state positions. For example, one of the deputy ministers at the Ministry of Education, accused in the audit of siphoning funds with other reports of running a personal education empire, has been named to run another educational outfit. This official has been vindicated, making the GAC useless and a burden on taxpayers, whether here or in donor countries.

D) Responses to GAC audits are heard mainly on paid for radio interviews, robbing the entity of its status and rendering it irrelevant.

For these and other reasons, honesty demands that this troublesome body be scrapped.

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