Konneh, Tweah Differ On GAC Report -Konneh: Both Presidents Were Misled -Tweah: GAC Report Validates Weah’s Statement

MONROVIA: With the issues of the conflicting figures being reported as the balance of the consolidated account by both the former President, George Manneh Weah and President Joseph Nyuma Boakai now apparently settled by the General Auditing Commission (GAC), Senator Amara Konneh of Gbarpolu County has asserted that from the available outcome of the audit report, it was clear that both Boakai and Weah were misled with information provided by people who were close to the two leaders.

“Now that the General Auditing Commission’s (GAC) Report on the compliance audit of the special reconciliation of the GoL Consolidated Funds Account at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) is public, released on March 4, 2024, I would like to provide clarity on the matter before it gets lost in political interpretations to distort the gravity of the audit findings”, Senator Konneh who is the Chairman of Senate’s Public Accounts, Expenditures and Audits Committee {PAC) stated in a post made on his official facebook page yesterday..

He stated that specialized audit was commissioned by the Senate’s Public Accounts, Expenditures, and Audits Committee (PAC) on the mandate of the Senate Plenary to minimize the politicization of the matter when both the government and its predecessor were making claims and counterclaims about the actual balance left in the consolidated account of the government as of January 19, 2024, two days to the inauguration of President Boakai.

“The purpose was to establish the accuracy of former President Weah’s farewell statement he delivered on January 21st when he said he left a balance of $40 million in the GoL Consolidated Account. President Boakai, in his State of the Nation Address on January 29th said that he inherited a $20.5 million balance in the same account at the CBL”, Senator Konneh said.

Konneh who once served as a Minister of Finance and Development Planning under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said as per the report, the Auditor General of the Republic of Liberia concluded that as of January 19, 2024, the gross balance of the Consolidated Account at CBL was USD 50,161,966.74 and the GOL book balance with outstanding cheques was USD 43,243,823.77.  He said with that transaction, therefore, the reconciled Cash balance was USD 6,918,142.97 which was the GoL’s cash position.

“The key message in this aspect of the report is that both leaders were misled by their respective teams due to their lack of due diligence on this important matter that dogged the 2017 transition between former Presidents Johnson Sirleaf and Weah”, he said.

The outspoken lawmaker said most importantly, “the report highlights other egregious findings that indicate the violations of the Liberian Constitution and the Public Financial Management Law (PFM) including outstanding checks issued beyond the statutory period, irregular reconciliation of consolidated accounts, transitory accounts, and revenue-sharing disbursements, among others”.

“However, the most consequential and deeply troubling one is that the GoL Borrowed USD 83 million from the CBL in November and December 2023 without Legislative approval. This violation is a constitutional issue and a violation of the CBL Act of 1999 amended in 2020. Even though the CBL Board authorized the loan disbursement, this was insufficient in the opinion of the Auditor General, as there was no evidence of Legislative ratification mandated by Article 34 d (iii) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia and Section 46.2 of the CBL Act of 1999”, he said.

Senator Konneh who seems to be elated about the final audit report said his next action will now be “my office will circulate copies of the report to the Senate PAC’s members for their perusal and prepare a summary of the report with recommendations for the Plenary’s action”.

While concluding his post, Konneh thanked the Auditor General, on behalf of the Senate PAC, “for his leadership and the professional manner in which the GAC carried out this specialized audit. It’s up to the Legislature to act now”.

It can be recalled that in the wake of the controversies generated by the conflicting information about the balance in the consolidated account, the plenary of the House of Representatives summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia J. Aloysius Tarlue who was said to have authenticated the version of former President Weah that balance was USD40m which was both the conversion of the Liberian dollar component to the United States dollars and added on the USD component.

The senate on its own through its Public Accounts Committee (PAC) urged the auditor to do a comprehensive audit and revert to the body which was done promptly; hence the report.

However,  Samuel D. Tweah, Jr, former Minister of Finance and Developing Planning (MFDP) while asserting that the GAC report not only validate what former President George Manneh Weah stated that the cash balance of the consolidated account was USD41m as at January 17, 2024, the said report showed more than USD46m.

Taking to his official Facebook Page, the tough talking former Minister said that on January 21 or thereabouts, President Weah told Liberians that the total cash balance in the consolidated account was around US $41 million. This report was based on a consolidated cash report prepared by the Comptroller and Accounting General at the MFDP and the information was placed in the speech of the president.

“Since then, there have been attempts to controvert this figure for political purposes, a truly sad situation. President Boikai was made to say that US $20 million was left in the consolidated account. The attempt to deny springs from the fact that the UP left a far SMALLER amount of US$7 million for the CDC in 2018. Since the CDC number was bigger than UP’s number, someone was not happy! This is how LOW AND CHEAP LIBERIAN POLITICS HAS BECOME!!”, Tweah said.

He furthered that even when the facts are glaring about the true state of the cash balance of the consolidated account, politics will take over which prompted why the GAC was asked to look into the matter, adding “and the GAC has said more than US $41 million was in the account on the day in question”.

“So President Weah said the TRUTH!!

“Did the GAC confirm US $46 million cash available on that day? YES! Did president Weah say US $41 million cash was available on that day? YES. Did president Weah say anything about Government obligations? NO. Should president Weah have reported ‘reconciled numbers’? Hell no. Cash balances on a daily basis are in real time. Reconciliation comes after so many things that may or may not happen over time. Reconciliation is done at the end of an accounting period. The political tradition since 2018 is you say how much you are leaving in cash and in reserve.

Tweah, who then did some comparison about the obligations of both the governments said the debate was far from what the UP government was advancing, knowing very well that CDC has a better record.

“In 2018 UP left US$7 million when Government obligations were more than US$40 million. So UP left (US$33 million) or negative US $33 million? Well, if you apply the same accounting to CDC, CDC still wins with a positive balance. So where are we going with this debate?

 

“Let’s concede the simple facts and be honest for once. We have bigger things to talk about than check balances on a particular day. If you went to an ATM machine to print out your bank statement for a particular day, you will have it. The number you see is the amount in the bank. Whether you pay your rent tomorrow or next week is a different matter. The number President Weah read was the amount in the bank: He was factually correct!

“Thanks to the GAC for making this very simple and clear. Debate closes. Lesson: Let the fact be the fact for once in Liberian politics”, Tweah concluded.

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