ECOWAS conducted an audit of disbursements of the Bryant administration. The published audit report lends credence to that call for help. It comes as no surprise to us that Mr. Bryant and his gang of thieves stole chunks of our meager funds that could have helped implement some woefully needed public programs. Now, this ECOWAS audit did not even touch revenue collection practices of the Bryant administration. How much government revenue destined to the CBL never arrived? At this time only Mr. Bryant and his boys and girls know that amount.
With this gross misappropriation of public funds having taken place in the immediate past, let alone generations unending, one would think that the Honorable Houses would, in unison, embrace any form of exercise to help plug some of the funds disbursement loopholes that have hurt us. If GEMAP cannot get cooperation from the First Branch of Government, the Lawmakers of our land, to carry out a simple task of matching paychecks with legislative staff, what would the Legislature think if other segments of government follow its footsteps by placing similar stumbling blocks to GEMAP?
If it has been customary that legislators perform paymaster duties, by personally hand-delivering their staffs’ paychecks, that’s fine. This exercise by the Ministry of Finance, through GEMAP, is in no way attempting to take away that “privilege”. This exercise, in no certain terms, impugns the integrity of the Legislature. The surprise nature of this exercise should not be seen as a “witch hunt” by the Executive Branch, and hence a pretext to place the Legislature at loggerheads with the Executive Branch. It is an accepted, unannounced, infrequent accounting practice in any entity that has a payroll. It is a necessary step to verify the amount of this disbursement.
It is understandable that legislative staff members who feel their best interests (getting their proper pay) are not being served by their bosses speak off the record that matching paychecks with payees is a welcomed exercise. But, to have some members of the Legislature choose to also speak off the record in expressing their disdain for the move by their peers to block this exercise is a disservice to their constituencies, to the nation. What is the nature of their fear to publicly speak out?
We have become accustomed to intimidations, through threats. This issue should not even make it to a legislative plenary where the Ministry of Finance is cited to show reasons for matching paychecks with payees. It is utterly unreasonable, very counterproductive, to hear a legislator state that "If they do not trust us, they should say so we can call them to prove it," (Courtesy of Analyst). This anonymous legislator is missing the point. Accountability and Trust go together, that’s why we want to ensure their coexistence. We expect the Honorable Houses to let reasoning triumph by letting GEMAP carry out its duties. Let’s not take steps backwards in this overwhelming task to move our country forward.
The Executive Branch is not “witch hunting“, and is not attempting to shame; it is simply carrying out its responsibilities with due diligence. If the paycheck matching scheme reveals any improprieties, it would be a mere coincidence. For purposes of national budget preparations, the Executive Branch needs to know the real figures for periodic payroll disbursements. Wouldn’t the Legislature want to know that the national payroll figures the Executive Branch presents in a budget sent before it are real? Those legislators blowing the horn for Branch Wars, over nothing, must be dissuaded from taking up arms.
We want to believe that in Liberia we have arrived at an Age of Reasoning. We want that state of mind to propel us into the future. We don’t want to be held back anymore. The children are watching; the world is also watching. We must to get it right.