Bong County’s Lawmaker Wants Audit of Ministry of Youth & Sports for Excess Budgetary Expenditure
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – Bong County District #4 Representative Robert Womba has called for a “complete audit” of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for spending more than US$700,000 outside of its allocated budget for fiscal year 2018/2019.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
Rep. Womba is a member of the joint committee of the Legislature that is currently scrutinizing the draft budget for 2019/2020.
Addressing a news conference at his Capitol Building office on Wednesday, September 4, he revealed that his demand to audit the Ministry of Youth & Sports derived from the confession by Youth & Sports Minister Dester Zeogar Wilson, who has said that the ministry used an excess of a little over US$700,000 for sports.
The actual approved budget for sports captured in FY 2018/2019 was US$300,000.
But the Ministry, in its expenditure report submitted to the joint budget committee, reported that it used up to a little over US$1 million.
According to Rep. Womba, when the Committee members quizzed Minister Wilson, he admitted to spending the excess, saying that the money was disbursed by the Minister of Finance & Development Planning, Samuel Tweah.
“It is alarming that we will appropriate a budget line of US$300,000 and the Minister of Youth and Sports told us that he used a little over US$1 million. And when we quizzed him he said we should go and ask the Minister of Finance. It baffles me allot, it’s disturbing. And I am very disappointed” he said.
Rep. Womba noted that the excess expenditure was illegal and if it is established that the Minister of Finance authorized the disbursement then the will be need for a thorough investigation.
He blamed the continuous budgetary shortfall on the reckless and unlawful spending by the Executive.
The Bong County District #4 Lawmaker promised to write the plenary of the House of Representatives to seek authorization for a complete audit of the Ministry of Youth & Sports and cite the Minister to give reason why he authorized the excess spending.
Said Rep. Womba: “If every Ministry experienced that [excess spending]’ it means that our budget fall emulate from that off budget expenditure. You see most of the times there is budget fall, revenue fall, all of these falls come when appropriations are made and the Minister in his mind decide to use excess spending somewhere where it was not spelled out by the Legislature. It’s a problem.”
He continued: “In our budget law, switching of accounts is an offence. You cannot switch budget line item in that way. Where do you get that money from? Who appropriated it? Who authorized the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning to give huge amount to the Youth and Sport Minister? It is disturbing and he will be checked. I have decided to write the full body [Plenary] to institute an audit. I am going to write the full body to conduct a fact finding to know the actual truth. He may use more than that. He needs to be quizzed on that. I think that is the beginning of bringing transparency to the financial setting.”
Ministry of Finance Also Caught
Meanwhile, officials of the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP) have also failed to justify the additional budgetary allotment of US$10 million in the 2018/2019.
It can be recalled on the first day of the budgetary hearing, the Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs at the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, Samora Wolokollie revealed that in addition to the US$49 million approved by the Legislature for the MFDP in FY2018/2019, the Ministry used up to US$60 million.
This led to Rep. Francis S. Dopoh, a member of the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning and Public Accounts & Expenditure of both Houses to question who authorized the Ministry to appropriate the excess figure.
Minister Wolokollie argued that the additional increment was backed by the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law of Liberia, but his claims were debunked by the joint Committee.
Following further queries by members of the Joint Committee, Mr. Wolokollie requested more time to address the situation with all supporting documents.
However, Minister Wolokolie has not been called in an open hearing to back his claim and the Committee has not issued out any statement.
However, when reports quizzed him on the MFDP excess expenditure, Rep. Womba promised to also review the expenditure report and if it is established that the Ministry used the excess, he will seek a probe.