The secretariat of the Public Account Committee (PAC) has indicated that all is set to continue public hearings into audit reports submitted to the Legislature by the Auditor General of the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
According to the PAC, the 15-member Joint Committee will have joint hearings in the Joint Chamber of the Legislature starting at 11:00 a.m. to consider reports from the Auditor General to the Legislature. The reports cover activities of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) from the period 2009/2010 and 2011.
On Friday, February 14, 2014, the PAC will interrogate authorities in charge at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) from audit reports dating from 2006/2007 and 2007/2008.
The Chairman of the Joint PAC, Senator Edward Boimah Dagoseh, disclosed in a recent briefing that the public hearings exercise has a huge backlog of audit reports.
“We have 85 audit reports from the GAC, nevertheless the PAC has the strong determination and commitment to have public hearings on all audit reports,” Sen. Dagoseh declared.
He noted that public hearings have been conducted on the Ministries of Gender & Development, Education, Justice (for the Prison System), the National Port Authority and Roberts International Airport, all based on audit reports.
Senator Dagoseh said the mandate of the PAC in the current phase of the public hearings is sponsored by the World Bank and include: 1) review and public hearings held on audit reports by GAC; 2) investigation of public expenditure; 3) investigation of irregularities and other issues raised by the GAC; 4) the development of recommendations on government financial administration; 5) to conduct ex-post scrutiny on budget execution, 6) to publish reports.
Speaking recently during a two-day consultative workshop for media practitioners and civil society organizations, Sen. Dagoseh further disclosed that the role of members of the Legislature through the Joint Public Accounts Committee & Audits is to scrutinize the way the Executive operates and to hold it to account where performance falls short.
Meanwhile, the World Bank Liberia Country Manager, Ms Inguna Dobraja, has reminded attendants at a two-day consultative workshop in Monrovia that the National Legislature of Liberia has the constitutional mandate to assist the Executive Branch in ensuring accountability for proper management of public finances.
Madam Dobraja recalled the lack of functioning system of accountability to guide the use of public finances during the years of conflict in the country. She said as the country transitions from its post-conflict recovery phase while laying the foundations for its long term development, “the National Legislature is confronted with significant challenges in fulfilling its public finance oversight responsibilities.”
“These challenges,” the World Bank official asserted, “are reflected in significant delays in budget scrutiny and timely approvals of annual budgets, which together have been affecting the effectiveness of, and predictability in budget execution; which in turn impacts efficiency of service delivery and execution of public investment programs essential for improving lives of many Liberians.”
She disclosed the World Bank is providing assistance to strengthen Liberia’s financial management through the Integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project (IPFMRP) and the Institutional Development Fund (IDF) grant, including supporting the work of the PAC.
As part of this assistance, “Parliamentary Strengthening, through the Media Program of the World Bank, is providing capacity building support to the Liberian Legislature’s PAC through streamlining the committee’s business process and procedures and strengthening interaction with the committee’s primary stakeholders.”