By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Auditor General’s findings with recommendations to the joint legislative committee on Public Accounts witnessed serious disagreements between the Ministry of Public Works and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) yesterday during a public hearing in the joint chambers of the National Legislature.
The legislative committee had suggested five recommendations for the public hearing when it was furnished with a forensic audit report on the sale of road equipment that should have been bought by the Consolidated Group Incorporated to the Ministry of Public Works for the period of 2006-2007.
The report was released on February 2009 with allegation ranging from violating the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding signed and pro-forma invoices delivered, deviation from MoUs and the Public Procurement and Concession Commission Act of 2005, as well as other procurement related offences and the breach of financial discipline.
The public hearing mainly covered discussions on the bid analysis sheet from US$ 693, 595 to US$ 887,945 which created variance of US$194, 350 including US$ 151, 000, payment made to Consolidated Group and Public Works submitted a voucher in the amount of US$ 205, 000 while the analysis sheet submitted showed a price bid of US$ 53, 900.
The AG recommended also that former Public Works Minister LuseniDonzo, former acting Minister Charles Carpenter, former Assistant Minister and acting Comptroller John Gbalah be reprimanded from conspiring with the Group to defraud government in the tune of US$ 877, 945.
The recommendation is also proposing that the chairperson and members of the GSA Independent Committee be liable and prosecuted for producing a bogus report to undermine not only the works of Public Works engineers, but also the waste of Liberian taxpayers’ money which cost the country US$ 877, 945.
Meanwhile, following justification from the Public Works comptroller, Abraham Samukai who is believed to be the longest serving employee in the Ministry, Public Works Minister Gydue Moore said his administration could not be held liable for what was done in the past even though he has assumed the highest position at the Ministry and should be in the know.
The hearing was rescheduled for what the committee observed to be a controversy between the GAC and the Ministry of Public Works on whose explanation to believe.