In the wake of mounting and incessant reports about the alleged mismanagement or misuse of funds given to this country by the Japanese government to undertake several development projects, President Sirleaf has ordered a full scale investigation including comprehensive audits of all seven projects supported by the Japanese Counterpart Value Funds based on the recommendations of the Ministry of Justice.
According to an Executive Mansion release on the matter said the President ordered the “full scale investigation” following the receipt of preliminary investigation reports by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, on the slow pace of implementation and allegations of financial improprieties in some of the seven social and economic development projects supported by the Japanese Government.
These projects include the Institutional and Human Resource Support Project under the Department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the construction of three bridges in Grand Cape Mount County managed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the construction of five storage facilities and the Paddy and Seed Rice Project, Phase two managed by the Ministry of Agriculture; and the LIFE and Small Medium Enterprise (SME) Projects managed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Additionally, President Sirleaf has further mandated the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to expeditiously conduct a comprehensive forensic audit of the finances of the projects, while the Ministry of Justice will continue its investigations into the implementation of the projects, in close collaboration with the GAC and relevant institutions with the view to identifying and subsequently prosecuting those who may be culpable for any improprieties.
The Executive Mansion’s release said these actions are intended to prevent impunity, protect the integrity of the projects, induce transparency and accountability in their implementation, and to ensure that the developmental objectives contemplated under these projects are achieved.
We are in full support of the audit into these funds to be able to establish those who have been involved in these alleged acts of mismanagement or misuse of funds intended to undertake development projects in the country’s post war recovery.
For us, since reports about how the funds were not being properly used, we have been saddened by this because such has the propensity to discourage others who are helping this country in its recovery, and furthermore, may also bring about donor fatigue in that they may not want to commit any funds for fear of being misused or mismanaged.
As the press release rightly said, we welcome this audit “to prevent impunity, protect the integrity of the projects, induce transparency and accountability in their implementation, and to ensure that the developmental objectives contemplated under these projects are achieved.”
However, we hope that at the end of this audit, anyone found liable or culpable should be made to face the full weight of the law to serve as deterrence to others. This country cannot be asking for aids, and at the same time those aids are not used for the intended purpose. This is tantamount to stabbing one in the leg or back.
Again, we welcome this audit, but hope it will not be for mere charade or a public relations stunt.