Legislature Mandates GAC to Audit CBL: Why the Secret Act?

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It is heartrending to learn that the National Legislature has passed an Act mandating the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to audit the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

The first question about the passage of this Act, which rings alarm bells is, why was this Act done in secrecy?  Why did the two branches of government—the Legislative and Executive—act surreptitiously (sneakily, underhandedly)?  What were   they trying to hide?

Our front page story yesterday simply asked whether the Legislature had passed an Act mandating GAC to Audit the Central Bank.

That question suggested we did not have the facts.  But one of our many readers called, wondering why we were asking a question?  “The Act has already been passed and has been signed by everyone concerned including the President, and subsequently published in handbills, as required by law!”

The caller gave us a copy, excerpts of which we publish today.  Why are the Legislative and Executive branches trying to undermine the nation’s premier financial institution and its future?

Why would the whole Liberian Legislature AND the Executive gang up against the Central Bank?  The Bank is audited every year by the world’s leading auditing firms, as mandated by the Act establishing the CBL.  Last year it was Price Waterhouse.

Why would the Liberian government—the Legislature and the Executive—attempt to demean its own Central Bank by subjecting it to a patently (clearly, deliberately) political audit?  The world knows that the GAC is a political institution.  Remember what it did to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf herself in 2006, after she appointed what she and others thought was a highly competent Auditor General, John Morlu?  She was the first to get burnt by him.  For long before he conducted his first audit, he announced to the world that the Sirleaf administration was “the most corrupt in history”!  And throughout his tenure there was always a conflict between the Administration and the GAC.  Morlu got angry when the President failed to renew his highly lucrative (well paid) contract, paid for by the European Union.  But did she have a choice?  No!

Now does the government know what it is doing by submitting its own Bank, the Central Bank of Liberia, to a political audit?  Nowhere in the world is this done.  Why should Liberia be the exception?  Nothing could be done more to undermine the autonomy and international credibility of Liberia’s premier financial institution.     

There is only one thing at the bottom of this whole crusade: Dr. J. Mills Jones.  Why?  Because we in this country have always behaved like crabs in a bucket.  Here are we Liberians, crabs all, suffocating in a bucket struggling for escape and survival, and when one of us attempts to get out to find ways to redeem the rest of us, we gang up to pull him back into the bucket so that all of us will perish together, to the detriment of our country that we claim to love.

We say the whole problem is about Dr. Jones because he has, for the first time in history, taken government money—which is perfectly in the mandate of the Central Bank to do—and lent it to the poorest of the poor throughout the country, in a bold, compassionate attempt to lift them out of poverty.

Mills Jones is first and foremost an economist.  But what he has done has scared the wits out of the politicians—the people on both sides of Capitol Hill.  They believe that if he is allowed to continue, the people might be tempted to reward him with something else.  And that is what has driven the leaders in the Legislative and the Executive to desperation.  Despite the fact that this man has said not a word about politics, they are prepared to undermine the credibility of the Central Bank rather than allow him to continue his bold attempt to end poverty in Liberia.

Yet, is that not this same poverty and hopelessness that   Counselor Varney Sherman spoke about in his 2013 Independence Day Oration?  He said it was poverty that led us to war.

Let us now rise up and run to the one branch of government left—the Judiciary—to save us and future generations. 

After that, we revert to Article 1 of the Constitution:  “All power is inherent in the people.”

A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.  And we peacefully rest our case. 

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