Bility Still on GAC’s Back -Demands More Than System Audit of Legislature

MONROVIA: Nimba County District #7 lawmaker Musa Hassan Bility appear uncompromising in his push for a more rigorous audit of the National Legislature.

In the last couple of weeks, Bility has continued to press the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to audit the National Legislature from 2014 to 2023 as to assure transparency and accountability of this branch of government has wields oversight responsibility over the GAC.

In his latest communication to P. Garswa Jackson, Auditor-General of the General Auditing Commission, Representative Bility made it clear that system review of the Legislature which the GAC is opting to do is not the same as an Audit that he is requesting to be done.

Bility’s earlier communication the auditor general was responded to in which he made a number or arguments bordering the GAC exclusive fiduciary responsibility to determine audit.

“Mr. Auditor General, a systems review is not the same as an audit,” Bility told the auditor general in response to the AG’s earlier response. “Therefore, in our unbending quest to protect public funds and improve transparency and accountability, I hereby request the General Auditing Commission to audit (both statutory and performance) the National Legislature from 2014- 2023, a period after the Amended GAC Act of 2014, covering the 53rd and 54th Legislatures.”

The Bility argued that his request is supported by Section 5.5 of the 2014 Act of the GAC.

At the onset of his communication to the AG, Bility acknowledged receipt of the AG’s response to his request for audit of the Legislature, noting the information about the systems audit which was already addressed in letter to him.

He continued: “I also note the reference to your ‘exclusive’ authority to determine audit under Section 2.1.3(c) of the Act without acknowledging the authority of the Legislature and the president to request audit as well, under Section 5.5 of the same 2014 GAC Act.

Given the divergence of interests, I wish to remind you of the below paragraph from my previous letter: ‘Mr. Auditor General, a systems review is not the same as an audit. Therefore, in our unbending quest to protect public funds and improve transparency and accountability, I hereby request the General Auditing Commission to audit (both statutory and performance) the National Legislature from 2014- 2023, a period after the Amended GAC Act of 2014, covering the 53rd and 54th Legislatures.”

“Generally, requests from outside the General Auditing Commission to the Auditor General to carry out audits or other work shall not be accepted EXCEPT that in circumstances that members of the Legislature or the President make a formal request to the Auditor General to carry out an audit or perform other works, the Auditor General shall consider such formal request to assess whether it is within the legal mandate of the General Auditing Commission, and if it could be carried out using resources within the approved budget of the General Auditing Commission.

“b. If the request is outside the legal mandate, the request shall be declined and, where appropriate, referred to another agency. c. If existing resources are insufficient, to carry out this requested work, the request shall be accepted only if extra funding is provided to the GAC to carry it out.”

As a member of the Legislature requesting an audit, Bility asked the auditor general to go a step further for comprehensive audit of the Legislature excluding matters relating to the merits of legislation is squarely and legally within the scope of your legal mandate, which include ‘audits of the Judicial Branch excluding matters relating to court decisions and audits of the Legislative branch excluding matters relating to the merits of legislation.”

He cited Section 2.1.3 (b)(iii), 2014 Amended Act.

Additionally, Bility said the audit as he has requested can be carried out using resources within the approved budget of the GAC given that the draft 2024 budget presented to the Legislature has allotted US $1,288,250 for Auditing Services out of the total GAC proposed budget of US $4,466,803.

The Nimba lawmaker threatened that he would not hesitate to go above the AG’s office even if it requires seeking legal actions through a writ of mandamus, to compel you to perform your duties”.

“Given your response,” he further stated, “it is apparent that the GAC has no intentions of conducting an audit of the National Legislature from 2014-2023 as requested. The failure of the GAC to grant this request in spite of the legal mandate and budget allocation of the GAC to conduct same, as per the GAC Act of 2014, is a violation of the Act.

“As you should know, your authority to determine audit under Section 2.1.3(c) does not negate the authority of members of the Legislature or the President to request audit under Section 5.5 of the same law.”

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