Liberia: ‘WFP is Above General Auditing Commission Audit’ – Auditor General Discloses in US$25m Stimulus Package Saga

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MONROVIA – The World Food Programme is at the center stage of the controversy surrounding the accountability of the US$25 million received for the distribution of food stuffs and other items to compensate for the lockdown triggered by the covid-19. Unfortunately, the General Auditing Commission says it does not have the mandate to audit the UN body.

In a communication to the Senate, the GAC through its Auditor General Madam Yusador Gaye said, Liberia being a member of the United Nations joined other members during the general Assembly to appoint a Supreme Audit Institutions to conduct independent audits of its agencies.

“If it is not expressly stated in the Memorandum of Understanding or contract that the country’s Supreme Audit Institution which is the GAC to audit, the country’s SAI cannot audit the UN Agency. I reviewed the MOU and accordingly, the auditor of the First President of the Court of Accounts of France, is the auditor for WFP until June 30, 2022,” the Auditor General indicated.

The Auditor General further disclosed that she had advised the Minister of Finance and explained the concept regarding the auditing of UN agencies at the time the MOU was being signed with the WFP that if the GAC is expected to audit the WFP, it must be clearly stated in the MOU.

She stated that under today’s funding ceiling and payments, item 6 clearly states the audit arrangement is to follow the routine audit requirements of the UN.

The plenary of the Liberian Senate in May mandated the General Auditing Commission to audit the World Food Programme and the government’s committee that headed the US$30 million COVID-19 stimulus package.

A motion by Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence urged the GAC to audit the process and report to the Public Accounts Committee of the Senate in the soonest possible time.

 Majority members of the Liberian Senate termed as unrealistic a report from Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, chair of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, in which he claimed 2.3 million people received stimulus package, a figure that represents 92 per cent of targeted recipients.

As part of a Covid-19-induced lockdown, the government saw the need to support vulnerable families whose lives were affected by the pandemic by setting up a special presidential taskforce.

The legislature approved a US$25 million stimulus package to provide food for vulnerable communities in collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP), offset loans to vulnerable traders, and pay utility bills for some households, among other things.

Suspicions on the expenditure of over US$25 Million from members of the Senate over the application and distribution of the stimulus package became a popular position by most of the Senators who said the only way to have a comprehensive response to their concerns was by inviting the WFP. 

Appearing before the Senate Thursday, Prof. Tarpeh said the 2.3 million people who received the stimulus package were those whose lives were ravaged by the lockdown.

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