KEEP GAC –AFTER MORLU- ‘INDEPENDENT’
Watchdog group says it is worried that the decision not to re-nominate Mr Morlu may signify another setback in the Liberian Government’s efforts to combat corruption.
he London-Based accountability watchdog group, Global Witness is urging Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to ensure that the General Auditing Commission remains strong and independent in the wake of the departure of Auditor General John Morlu.
In a letter addressed to the Liberian leader, the group says if the post-war nation is to break from a history of financial and accounting irregularities, it is essential that the government maintains a strong and independent GAC, and that the government adopts the Commission’s recommendations.
Said Global Witness: “When Mr. Morlu departs, Global Witness urges you to replace him with an individual who can help the Liberian government achieve this end. We hope that you will appoint in his place a candidate who is not politically linked, has no vested interests, has a record of integrity and is both experienced and well-qualified.”
Global Witness also vented its displeasure over the president’s decision not to re-nominate Morlu.
The group said: It is disappointed to learn that you have decided not to re-nominate John Morlu as the Auditor General. Global Witness has been impressed by the quality of audits conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) under the leadership of John Morlu and is concerned that the great work of the Commission may be jeopardized by Mr Morlu’s departure.”
Global witness said the GAC represents an indispensible mechanism for achieving accountability within the Liberian Government. “This is nowhere more true than it is for the ministries responsible for regulating the country’s natural resources, several of which continue to operate in a non-transparent manner. The GAC’s 2010 audit of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy provided information not available elsewhere, highlighting how the ministry was unable to account for millions of dollars of expenditures and how the ministry had only limited control over the country’s diamond industry. Global Witness is also concerned by possible irregularities in other sectors such as forestry and agriculture. As such, preserving the independence and integrity of the GAC is important to safeguard its key oversight role.”
The group says it is worried that the decision not to re-nominate Mr Morlu may signify another setback in the Liberian Government’s efforts to combat corruption. “Rather than acting to address issues of corruption and financial mismanagement revealed by GAC audits, individuals within the government have too often attacked the Commission and its Auditor General. The government has also been slow to adopt recommendations made by the GAC.”