Has the Legislature Passed an Act for GAC to Audit the Central Bank?

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Unconfirmed sources have revealed to the Daily Observer that the Legislature has passed an Act mandating the General Auditing Commission to audit the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

Our sources say that the Act was surreptitiously passed—surreptitiously because it by-passed the Banking Committees of both the House of Representatives and the Senate and has already been printed into handbills.  If this is true, it means that the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has signed the Act.

However, the Daily Observer contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for issuing the handbills, and FA officials say they know nothing about the handbills of an Act pertaining to the GAC auditing the CBL.  The Publications Office at Foreign Affairs, which is particularly responsible for all such publications, said they knew nothing about this law, or about it having been printed into handbills.

If indeed an Act authorizing the GAC to audit the CBL has been passed, it contravenes the October 20, 1999 Act creating the Central Bank of Liberia. 

The 1999 Act states in Part X on Page 19, that “The accounts of the Central Bank shall be audited at least once every year by reputable and professional external auditors appointed by the Board of Governors.  The Management of the Central Bank shall also appoint internal auditors who shall be mandated to audit the operational activities and accounts of the Central Bank on a continuous and regular basis.  All audits of the accounts of the Central Bank shall be conducted in accordance with international accepted auditing standards.”

It may also be recalled that Montserrado Representative Edwin Snowe recently called for an audit of the Central Bank.

Most observers were taken by complete surprise that Snowe would be the one calling for the audit of the CBL, since his own record as Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) during the administration of President Charles Taylor, is highly questionable.  Mr. Snowe was at the time married to President Taylor’s daughter.

Snowe’s management of the LPRC’s accounts was so questionable that it landed him in court, though he was acquitted of any wrongdoing.   This, however, does not preclude himself from being audited.  For the records are all there.  

Can this alleged legislative mandate of the CBL to be audited by the government’s GAC—a body known to be highly political—have anything to do with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s unannounced, unscheduled and uninvited visit last week to the Greenville, Sinoe County home of CBL Governor J. Mills Jones?

The Governor, because he has reached out to poor people throughout the country with micro-financing loans to help lift the Liberian people out of poverty, has gained immense popularity all over the country.  This has led many to speculate that he is aiming at a possible candidacy in the 2017 presidential elections.

The Daily Observer has reliably learnt that this issue has caused some friction between the President and the Governor.  Meanwhile, Governor Jones has gone about his work at the CBL, not saying a word about politics.  His speeches so far have focused on how to strengthen the economy by lifting Liberians out of poverty.  That, besides running the Central Bank, seems to be his passion.

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