The joint Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Legislature has been delving into a number of audit reports submitted to that august body by the government’s supreme auditing firm, the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
The audit implicates some government ministries and spending agencies, including the National Port Authority (NPA) for alleged acts of corruption.
The audit reports covered fiscal years 2006/07, 2007/08, a period before the appointment of current Managing Director Madam Matilda W. Parker. Madam Parker was appointed MD of NPA in May, 2009.
Among other things, the GAC audit reports alleged “significant problems with uncollected rental fees, failure to comply with the lease policy and illegal occupancy”, which the PAC concurred, has resulted in arrears and loss of revenue for the audit period.
Chaired by Grand Cape Mount County Senator Edward Dagoseh, the PAC, as part of its findings after conducting due diligence on the GAC audit in lines with the GAC Act, also indicated the absence of administrative and internal control system during the audited fiscal periods.
Consequently, the joint PAC of the Legislature recommended that actions be taken by the current management team of the NPA as regards the reclaiming of areas that are illegally occupied by business firms and that rental arrears be collected and deposited in the escrow account created by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).
The Committee further recommended to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to reprimand “former NPA managing directors Togba Nganana, Alphonso B. Gaye, Joe K. Touah, Joe T. Gballah, Elsie D. Badio and Yvette A. Freeman for signing alleged bogus lease agreements with the illegal occupants, amongst others.
In effect, the joint PAC vindicated the current management team of the NPA of any wrong doing, lying to rest speculations in the media that MD Parker and team have been booked for corruption by the joint legislative committee.
In its report to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, PAC advised the Parker-led administration to take necessary steps to correct the wrongs, even though Madam Parker and her team at the port authority continue to make tireless efforts aimed at evicting the illegal occupants.
In spite of the veracity in the committee’s findings of no wrongdoings by the present NPA management and that the audits periods do not cover the tenure of the Madam Parker as evidenced by PAC’s clarification on November 15, 2014, which undoubtedly explained that its findings do not “reflect charges of corruption against the current (NPA) Management, there have been widespread media reports suggesting that MD Parker and her team are caught in a corruption web.
According to a statement issued in Monrovia under the signature of House of Representatives Spokesman Isaac Redd, the clarification of the PAC comes in the wake of media reports by some online and conventional media outlets that the committee’s report found the NPA liable of malfeasance and corruption.
In its November 15 statement of clarity, PAC declared it had recommended to Pres. Sirleaf that further actions be taken to address the collection of arrears and issues of illegal occupancy of NPA properties that were caused by past management.
The PAC statement further states that although the current management of the NPA was not in place during the period of the audit, they are responsible for the implementation of the recommendations and will be held liable for any remaining corrective measures.
Amidst the clarity by the PAC, recent widespread myth that the NPA is being placed at the fulcrum of negative perception that the current management team of the port authority is either caught into a web of corruption or it is doing nothing to deal with the messy situation incurred from its predecessor is utterly farfetched and lacks basses.
Painstakingly, it has been reliably gathered that the Matilda Parker Administration has already instituted corrective measures to salvage the missteps of her predecessors, including securing needed resolutions and legal documents regarding the port authority’s property lease policies in order to halt revenue loses.
Our business desk came across a policy document crafted in 2006 to guide the negotiation of lease agreement, which the port authority says it is using now as a baseline in negotiating with clients. Top management officials recently told our reporters that “the 2006 policy document on lease is modified on an ongoing basis based on resolution by the board of directors of the port authority.”
In order to improve the leasing process, the chairman of the NPA Board, the Managing Director, the Comptroller and an in-house Lawyer of NPA sign all lease agreements between the port and any tenants, including an NPA witness. The leases must have a development plan depicting timeline for developing the property before said lease agreement is signed, the policy said.
According to the policy, all timelines are monitored, and leases are subject to cancellation if not adhered to; the disallowance of sub-leasing by all; all rental payments are done according to the adjustable every five years based on changes in the market value of the property, published by NPA Board resolution; and all survey are done via global positioning system (GPS) to ensure accuracy.