AUDIT IS A process where auditors look out for adherence to laws, rules, regulations, procedures and proper use of financial and other resources.
THE PROCESS in itself is very holistic and sets the basis for good governance and wise use of available resources.In many countries, institutions pay auditors millions of dollars to conduct audits because audit reports are use as tool for development but here in Liberia the story looks a complete opposite.
A FORTNIGHT AGO, the Government of President George Weah was celebrating success in the Millennium Challenge Score Card (MCC) specifically the aspect that has to do with the fight against corruption where the MCC reported that Liberia performed well in this area.
In the wake of the joy that characterized the MCC score card, the newly elected government to be led by former Vice President Joseph Boakai is said to be contemplating a full audit of the Weah-led administration.
ALTHOUGH PRESIDENT-ELECT Boakai has not officially pronounced a decision to audit the Weah-led government but some of the strong supporters of the incoming government have voiced out their desire for a full scale audit of the Weah Administration.
EVEN WITHOUT official pronouncement from President-elect Boakai about an audit, there are growing fears among officials of the Weah-led regime with many already referring to any possible audit as a witch- hunt.
It is mind-blogging how a government that celebrated few weeks ago about scoring high in the fight against corruption in the MCC rating of the administration will be crying witch-hunt when news of a full audit is heard from the corridors.
ONLY A FULL scale audit can make Liberians and international partners to know how President Weah and his officials have been handling the affairs and resources of the country and as a Government audit should be embraced.In audit accountability is only one component of the audit process as there are other important and essential aspects of audit including ascertaining whether the functionaries of Government are performing their statutory responsibilities in line with the laws that established these entities.
EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS of government operations is very important and it is only an audit that can lead to a determination as to whether Government entities performed at their full potential during the six years regime of President Weah.
LIBERIANS CRY DAILY that several agencies of Government including the Ministry of Public Works, Health, Education, Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), Liberia Water and Sewer among others are not performing their duties and responsibilities to the citizenry.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE conduit of making a determination about the performances of these institutions is through an audit of these institutions and from such audit recommendations will be help these institutions to perform to expectations, therefore audit should never be seen as a witch-hunt.It is unarguable that during the six years regime led by President Weah there were instances where individuals appointed to some high profile positions did not have the requisite skills, qualification and experience to manage the affairs of those entities, as such only an audit can draw such conclusions and make recommendations to avoid repeat of those kinds of appointments.
POLITICS HAS BECLOUDED everything in Liberia to the extent that even a positive and healthy process such as an audit which is just an assessment of the performance of institutions or individuals is been described as a political witch-hunt.
AN AUDIT of the Weah-led administration will send a very good signal on many fronts as firstly it will erase the long held practice of business as usual where every government comes and its officials enrich themselves at the detriment of the development of the country and improvement in the living standards of the citizenry.
IT HAS BECOME a culture where those coming to government come with the notion to amass wealth and go sky-free because the succeeding Government will always fail to audit its predecessor. Current President Weah and his party -the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) while in opposition promised to audit the President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf led regime but in spite of the glaring waste and abuse by the Sirleaf-led administration upon taking office, President Weah ignored the issue of audit.
OFFICIALS OF THE Sirleaf-led regime who amassed unexplained wealth were allowed to go free and have been living on their loot acquired over a long period of twelve years.President Weah and his officials also started their six years journey on similar footing with the US$25 million mob up exercise where such huge amount of money was accordingly infused in the Liberian economy with no known impact.
ALSO, THE WEAH-LED regime quickly moved to tamper with donors money kept at the Central Bank of Liberia, where international partners wrote a damning communication to the Government of Liberia expressing frustration over such action.Quickly officials of the Weah-led regime started to scramble for properties with the construction of mansions and duplexes with reports that many of these officials even bought properties in Dubai, Ghana, Ivory Coast and other countries around the world.If these are not risk factors that should point to compelling reasons for the conduct of a full scale audit of the Weah-led Government what more is required to ensure a deviation from the business as usual practice in Liberia, is anyone’s guess.
TO MAKE MATTER worse, the level and speed at which officials of the Weah-led Government acquired these properties publicly with no remorse to the suffering of the Liberian people and breakdown in the provision of basic services by the Government is something very worrisome which if there is no checkpoint, future officials of Government will also have no mercy on pillaging state resources because other shave done the same and gone free.Another major reason why a full scale audit of the Weah-led regime is important is that it will send a strong signal to the international community that the incoming Boakai-led regime will exercise the highest level of integrity and transparency in the management of donors as well as state resources.
DONORS WILL NOT always feel happy to have a situation where donations or supports provided to Liberia are mismanaged and those responsible are allowed to go free. This erodes donors confidence in the country and also contributes to donors fatigue in providing support to the country.It is now time to break away from business as usual and conduct a full scale audit of the Weah-led administration to set the pace for new paradigm where succeeding Governments will use the precedent to audit the Boakai-led Government after its first six years.
THERE SHOULD be no audit fear, there is no time to fear audit, somebody must break the jinx and ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the public sector. Countries like Rwanda, Tanzania are not doing this by chance but through commitment for change.