Liberia: Sweeping Financial Audit Underway in Grand Bassa

BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa County – The Superintendent of Grand Bassa County Janjay Baikpeh has written the Bassa Legislative Caucus requesting for the endorsement and approval of a far-reaching financial audit in the county.

In his communication to the caucus Chairman- Representative Vincent Willie, the superintendent said, the requested audit must cover fiscal years 2015  through 2020 (FY 2015/2016 – 2019/2020)

Such financial audit of county’s expenditure over the past six years, the superintendent believes is key in the face of government’s transitioning process from commercial banks hosting county and social development funds to the Central Bank of Liberia.

Superintendent Baikpeh also wants an audit of Grand Bassa County Scrap Account with the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment for the same fiscal periods.

The communication to the caucus, a copy which is the possession of this paper reads: “We will appreciate were you to approve and endorse the conduct of an audit on the accounts of the County Social Development Funds and the Scrap Account at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) respectively for the fiscal periods 2015/2016 to 2019/2020”.

He further argues that his decision to request an audit falls in line with mandate for the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning adjoining on the Government of Liberia’s Treasure Single Account (TSA) arrangement which must conform to the Public Financial Management Law that requires a county to open its account at government run financial institution only.

Superintendent Baikpeh also informed the Bassa Legislative Caucus that the Central Bank of Liberia has already opened two accounts for the county with the transfer of US$100,000 as 50% payment for the $200,000 which was appropriated as county development fund for fiscal year 2020/2021.

“Therefore, it is my hope that due diligence is done to this communication as we look forward for a transparent and accountable Bassa” the letter addressed to caucus chair Rep. Willie concluded.

The Grand Bassa Legislative caucus chair Vincent Willie said the decision for audit has been granted but, such was derived from the recent county sitting which the county Superintendent acted to.

“We members of the caucus have drafted a resolution to commission a holistic audit of all the Grand Bassa County financial activities and the county development funds, social development fund and scrap account since 2015 fiscal years,” Rep Willie added.

Rep Willie said the decision is to understand all financial interactions and provide a way forward for the management of the county to benefit of all Bassa people.

He added that, when the resolution is signed by caucus members, same will be sent to GAC with negotiation that for the GAC to charge a minimum amount so that the audit can go forward.

The Grand Bassa Caucus Chair warned that the people Grand Bassa and laws of the Republic will hold anyone held responsible for any form of mismanagement to account.

While other motives for the request of such sweeping audit remain unknown, there had been reports of continuous corruption and financial mismanagement of county and social development funds in Grand Bassa and all other counties across Liberia.

A General Auditing Commission (GAC) reports of 2018 allegedly linked several Grand Bassa County former and current officials to missing scrap money between June 2014 and July 2016.

By then, the GAC report found that “US$89,203.00 generated from the sales of scrap metals to African Business Import & Export and Varney Scrap Group/ North Star was not reflected in the county accounting records.

The amount represented variance between deposits per LBDI bank statements and the County accounting records, promoting citizens to demand county officials give an account of funds from the scrap metal program.

Another report by the GAC released in September 2016, the second audit report eight years allegedly discovered massive violations of Public Procurement and Concession Commission’s requirements during the award of contracts in the county.

It may recalled that, back in February 2012, an audit on ArcelorMittal Social Development Fund to the county linked former Superintendent, Julia Duncan- Cassell.

Madam Cassell who later was appointed Minister of Gender Children and Social Protection was criticized and labeled corrupt for allegedly making payment for projects to non-existing firms as the report captured that the days of her administration were concealed by allegations of misappropriation.

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