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“Liberia Pledges to take 107th GAC Audit Report More Serious”- Browne: A Response

P e r s p e c t I v e s

Public Policy . Economics . Democratic Politics . Political/Economic Decentralization . Public Dishonesty . Dual Citizenship

Government Spokesman, Information Minister, Lewis Browne, declared (FrontpageAfricaonlie, April 13, 2015) that “Liberia pledges to take serious (the) 107th GAC Audit Report more Serious”. This declaration is implicit admission that the Government had been, and is, less serious about prior or previous, GAC Audit Reports than the 107th.

Given the prevailing, devastating impact of dishonesty or corruption, especially, in government, the Liberian people or any reasonable person would think or believe that audit reports by Government Auditing Agency, the GAC, are or will be given serious attention. However, according to Government Information spokesman, the contrary is, apparently, true, although the current President and Head of Government acknowledged and declared, publicly, that public dishonesty or “corruption is Liberia’s public enemy #1”, in the light of increased incidence of corruption.

Apart from the description of public dishonesty or corruption, as “Rampant Corruption”, the major theme of the April 12, 1980 Event and its phenomenal practice throughout the 167-year history of our nation, corruption is not, any longer “rampant”, but “roaring”. Corruption has been developed into a thriving, successful “business” of Corruption, Inc. that may be likened to the famous (or infamous) Mafia. It is the brainchild of a corps of highly-educated MBAs, LLMs and PhDs, politically- and socio-economically-connected individuals placed in strategic positions in government and the corridors of state power and politics. 

Corruption, Inc. is financed, now, by lawful public policy of the Salary/Wage Allowance scheme. Today, Cabinet Ministers and Deputies; Agency Heads and Deputies; State-owned Enterprise MDs/Presidents and Deputies are paid fabulous Salary/Wage-supported salaries in addition to other, dubious allowances.

According the Liberian National Budget submitted June 29, 2013 to the National Legislature for review/approval, we noted the following allocations: 

Office of the Speaker, House of Representative              US $766,357.00

Office of the Deputy Speaker                                         700,302.00

Office of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate        846,653.00

                                                                                    Grand Total      $2,313,312.00

In words, Two million, Three Hundred Thirteen Thousand, Three Hundred Twelve dollars allocated to three offices/officials!! The concerns raised by these figures demand explanation; in that, our country that is reeling not only under the burden of socio-economic and political under-development, but also that with an overwhelming majority of its citizens shackled with abject poverty, un-information, illiteracy, disease and an alarming mortality rates, it is next to inhumanity to note that three offices are allocated, almost, a million, US dollars each with no obligation to account.  

The Continuing Rise of Corruption

Back in the 1980s and beyond, “The effort to combat Liberian corruption in the public sector began to be taken serious. It was decided that it should and must be based on social, economic and political considerations. Salary/wage and benefit rates/levels in the public (government) sector should and must be not only be consistent with prevailing rates/levels in the private sector, but also consistent with the changing levels of the cost of living as well as reflect human need and perception of human value or worth. However, experience shows that this condition has not been the case in our Liberian, public service. Such employment benefits as health/life insurance, retirement, job security, in-service training & education for upward advancement, periodic performance appraisals for merit promotion etc., taken for granted elsewhere, are either non-existent and/or systematically abused for personal gain. Thus, highly-educated and experienced cabinet ministers, state enterprise executives, professional technocrats, medical doctors, state university professors and public school teachers who put in ten-to twelve-hour days of dedicated service do not have job security and other related, employment benefits, including salaries and wages that are not compatible with their training/experience and the social demands of their positions”. The conclusion: seek foreign Aid from our “partners-in-progress” (the USA-USAID, EU, UNDP, etc.) to be known as “allowance” to complement low-level, public salary/wages. This has become successful but turned out, apparently, to be something else, as shown below.

Fiscal 2013-2014 Budget, (submitted June 29, 2013)

Transparency, Accountability and Credibility demand that those who crafted this budget with these allocations will have to come forward with reasonable, credible explanations/rationalizations for the taxpayer and our foreign donors.  If we agree, just for the sake of the argument, that the taxpayer and donors will go along with the three, unexplained and, therefore, questionable “allowances” – general, special and salary – why should and must the taxpayer foot the bill for the cost of personal expenses (high-lighted in red below) such as rent, electricity (generator & fuel), automobile insurance, newspaper purchase, automobile repairs and upkeep, including such dubious allocations as “special services, operation expense, transport equipment, etc.? 

The generous, salary/wage allowances made available are intended to enable civil servants to pay their own costs of living, in accordance with generally-accepted and practiced conventions. There is, absolutely, no reason for which such costs should and must be paid by the taxpayer/employer.  

A closer look at these budgeted, line-item “allowances” is, indeed, necessary because there are several, unexplained categories of allowances - “general, special and salary” – raising questions about the level of amounts allocated. These are:

Office of the Speaker

General Allowance                             US$197,654.00

Special Allowance                                      72,000.00                        $269,654.00

Salary Allowance                                        55,000.00                            55,000.00   $324,654.00


Personal, Un-explained Allocations

Rental Expense                                        24,000.00

Fuel –Vehicles                                          90,942.00

Fuel – Generator                                      37,252.00

Repairs                                                      24,000.00

Special Services                                        28,892.00

Operational Expense                                11,271.00

Local Scholarship Give-away                   10,000.00 

Purchase of Newspaper                           4,000.00

Equipment                                                 3,000.00                                                   $233,357.00    


Office of the Deputy Speaker

General Allowance                                   111,557.00                       

Special   Allowance                                    60,000.00                         $171,557.00

Salary Allowance                                        65,000.00                                65,000.00      $236,557.003


Personal, Un-explained Allocations

Rental Expense                                         24,000.00

Fuel – Vehicles                                        100,056.00

Fuel – Generator                                       41,000.00

Repairs                                                       36,000.00

Operational Expense                                39,694.00

Special Services                                         22,000.00

Vehicle Insurance                                       4,000.00

Local Scholarship Giveaway                      3,500.00

News Paper Purchase                                2,100.00                                                     $272,350.00       


Office of the President Pro Tempore

General Allowance                                  162,000.00                           

Special Allowance                                      72,000.00                        $234,000.00

Salary Allowance                                     175,000.00                         $175,000.00      $409,000.00


Personal, Un-explained Allocations

Rent                                                            18,599.00                             

Fuel for Generator                                     30,838.00

Special Services                                          66,000.00

Operation Expense                                     61,000.00

Transport Equipment                                 16,000.00

Local Scholarship Giveaway                        5,000.00  

News Paper Purchase                                  4,000.00                                                   $201,437.00  

The next and final, crucial and closer look is and must be at the budgetary, line-item allocations of, just, these three offices; this is enough to raise an alarm, because these are likely to be a tip of the proverbial “iceberg”. We took the pain to list the allocations as described and let the people know and decide:

                         Office of The Speaker

                         General Allowance                                                              US $197,657

                         Special         “                                                                                  72,000

                         Salary          “                                                                                   55,000

                         Foreign Travel                                                                              139,638

                         Domestic Travel                                                                             12,000

                         Residential Rent                                                                             24,000

                         Fuel – Vehicles                                                                                90,942

                         Fuel – Residential Generator                                                        37,252

                         Vehicles Repairs                                                                              24,000

                         Entertainment                                                                                 15,000 

                         Special Services                                                                               28,892

                         Internet Service & Postage                                                           12,000 

                         Operational Expense                                                                      11,271

                         Local Scholarship Giveaways                                                        10,000

                         Purchase of Newspapers                                                                 4,000

                         Stationary                                                                                         11,904 

                         Furniture                                                                                             6,000 

                         Equipment                                                                                          3,000  



                      Office of the Deputy Speaker 

                        General Allowance                                                                        111,557

                        Special          “                                                                                    60,000

                        Salary            “                                                                                    65,000

                        Management Expense                                                                   446,745

                        Foreign Travel                                                                                    98,896

                        Domestic   “                                                                                       14,000

                        Fuel, Vehicles                                                                                   100,056

                        Fuel, Generator                                                                                 41,000

                        Internet Service/Postage                                                                 28,000

                        Repairs                                                                                                36,000

                        Residential Rent                                                                                24,000

                        Operational Expense                                                                        39,694

                        Entertainment                                                                                   19,000

                        Special Services                                                                                 22,000

                        Vehicle Insurance                                                                                4,000

                        Local Scholarship Giveaway                                                              3,500

                        Stationary                                                                                             8,500

                        Printing                                                                                                 5,000

                        Newspaper Purchase                                                                         2,100



                      Office of President Pro Tempore

                      Salary Allowance                                                                                175,000

                      General     “                                                                                         162,000

                      Special       “                                                                                           72,000

                      Foreign Travel                                                                                     101,000

                      Domestic   “                                                                                           72,000  

                      Residential Rent                                                                                   18,599

                      Fuel, Vehicles                                                                                        69,092

                      Fuel, Generator                                                                                    30,838

                      Internet/Postage                                                                                  18,605

                      Special Services                                                                                     66,000

                      Operational Expense                                                                            61,000

                      Entertainment                                                                                       12,240

                      Transport Equipment                                                                           16,000

                      Machinery                                                                                              14,900

                      Local Scholarship Giveaway                                                                  5,000

                      Newspaper Purchase                                                                              4,000

                      Stationary                                                                                                 9,000

                      Printing                                                                                                     3,404



With the aid and knowledge of computer technology, these budget and finance gurus have captured the nation’s successful, official salary/wage allowance system and transformed it into a sophisticated, booming, corruption bonanza for the few, well-heeled and well-connected. For, they and their business friends are wheelers/dealers in high-priced SUVs, electric generators, spare-parts and service, high-rent apartments, mobile cell telephone, etc., industry, all financed from and by “allowances”.

Given the foregoing information, our Government should and must “take” and be “serious” about all Audit Reports by the GAC.  

With Bai M. Gbala, Sr.

April 17, 2015

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