Varbah Gayflor Choked Over Funds…As Legislative Account C’ttee Opens Hearing

By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie

Former Gender and Development Minister, Varbah Gayflor, has been allegedly chocked for misapplying over US$23,901.71 and LD$31,180.00 funds collected from the usage of the ministry’s conference hall.

Madam Gayflor has also been accused for failing to account for US$319,748.43 during the period under audit for fuel and gasoline procured for the Gender Ministry. Audit report says she could not account for the amount due to the absence of fuel requisition and distribution report.

Appearing before the House and Senate Standing Committee on Public Account yesterday in the William R. Tolbert joint chambers at the Capitol Building, Deputy Auditor General of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) Mr. Wessely Nyakan told the committee members that the  audit report covers 2006-2009. He said the report is not intended to witch-hunt a particular person or a special group of people.

In his report to the committee, the Deputy AG Director explained that the money raised for the rent of the ministry’s hall cannot be traceable to bank statement, the ministry’s financial report or report submitted to the Ministry of Finance.  Mr. Nyakan added that the audit report shows how former Minister Gayflor had poorly managed assets and could not account for funds generated during those periods under review.

The report further revealed that subsidy and transfer payments in the tune of US$313,970,306,218 for unaccounted for while it was noted in the report that there were irregularity purchase of vehicles and motorbikes for Gender Ministry over paid to vendors. The report says there is a variance of US$6,334.29 from the transaction.

In the report before the Senate and House Public Account Committee, Madam Gayflor has been accused for misappropriating over US$75,000 allotted to set up leadership structures for rural women within the 15 political sub-division of the country. The GAC could not see any document to substantiate the usage of the money.

Instead of using the US$75,000 for the intended purpose, Madam Gayflor diverted the money into a loan program that she could not up to present produce documents to the effect as to how and who the loans were given to.

In her response to the GAC’s report and the committee’s inquiry, former Minister Gayflor who now serves as Director of the Cabinet in the Unity Party (UP) led administration told the lawmakers that the GAC did not treat her fairly with the report because they went to the ministry with a preconceived mind.

The former Minister averred that she earlier addressed herself to the audit report and later there was a MOU signed between the GAC and the Gender Ministry to acquit her and other staff of the ministry. But the GAC was quick to respond to her comment that at no time did the Auditing Commission ever told anyone that he or she has been acquitted from such audit report.

Madam Gayflor mentioned that prior to the coming of the GAC, the Gender Ministry lacked system. She also accused the GAC of being in adopting an antagonistic posture when the report was conducted.

Commenting on the funds collected from the conference hall of the ministry, Madam Gayflor told the committee that she used the money to pay Janitors and purchased chairs for the hall.

The Committee described her action as a complete violation of the revenue code law of Liberia which mandates all heads of ministries, agencies to submit all funds to the Ministry of Finance for onward deposit to the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

Madam Gayflor responded again saying that the act was not intentional because at the time nobody told her about the existing law that is now being referred to. It is therefore expected that the Public Account Committee would recommend to the Executive Branch of Government for action.