The outgoing Chairman of the Joint Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature Sen. Edward Dagoseh has accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of stalling the fight against corruption.
At the close of PAC’s retreat in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County last weekend, Dagoseh expressed dissatisfaction over the delays by the Executive Mansion to implement recommendations from his Committee concerning those implicated in financial improprieties and breach of public trust, noting that the delays undermine a collective approach in defeating the crime.
Dagoseh, a stalwart of the Unity Party and now Chairman of the Senate Ways, Means and Finance Committee, described the weakness on the part of President Sirleaf to battle corruption as “unacceptable.”
He averred that efforts to weed out or minimize corruption can never be achieved if practical decisions are not taken against those linked to tainted financial transactions and administrative practices.
Plenary of both Houses of the 53rd National Legislature last year endorsed and forwarded recommendations from the PAC to President Sirleaf regarding the review of Audit Reports from five institutions of government.
Entities covered included Roberts International Airport (1 January 2006-31 December 2007); Ministry of Education Free and Compulsory primary Education (Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2007); Ministry of Gender and Development (Fiscal years 2006/2008 and 2008 up to September 2009); National Port Authority (NPA) Landed Properties for the Fiscal Years 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 and Ministry of Justice for the Management of the Prison System in Liberia 2006/2009 and 2009/2010.
Accordingly, GAC reports to the Legislature are reviewed by the PAC and recommendations made to plenary. Plenary endorses the recommendations and forwards them to the President for Executive action.
Dagoseh praised his colleagues for their professional work performed in keeping with their oversight responsibilities over the last three years. He noted that conducting a series of public hearings with public entities based on audit reports from the General Auditing Commission (GAC) is a positive step in combating corruption.
He said the PAC has stood up to the challenge and its relevance cannot be overemphasized.
He therefore called on the new leadership to exert every effort to constructively engage the Executive to ensure that people account for public funds.
In order to win the fight against corruption, Sen. Dagoseh called on the Executive to see the PAC and other anti graft institutions as creditable partners.
He also cautioned members of the PAC to be committed to improving the financial management, and enhance accountability in the public sector and should not be seen as a partisan forum that names and shames agents of the Executive for mere political gains.
For his part, the Chairman of the House Public Accounts Committee, Rep. Ben Fofana, commended Sen. Dagoseh for his stewardship in conducting the affairs of the committee.
“PAC will continue to execute its responsibility without fear or favor and will not be deterred by detractors,” Fofana said.
He promised to work in line with other public accountability institutions and the Senate for a proper working relationship.
The 3-day retreat was intended to orientate incoming PAC members and to review reports of the Auditor General and other significant matters leading to the first batch of public hearings in 2015.
The PAC of the Legislature exercises oversight over spending entities and contractors doing business with the Government of Liberia.
Some of PAC’s responsibilities are to call agents of the Executive to give evidence in response to cases of mismanagement and irregularities identified through an audit; to make recommendations to remedy problems for improved financial management and accountability.
It also reviews audit reports produced by the Auditor General of Liberia.
The Public Accounts Committee’s work is facilitated by a cream of public financial management consultants who are hired by the World Bank as part of the Integrated Reform in the Financial Management Program of Liberia.