Morlu certainly has a “fish to fry” in budget matters in Liberia

By Isaac Browne, Jr.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 2, 2007


As a young Liberian it is encouraging to note that The Perspective has certainly given me, among other things, the platform to air my opinion regarding matters concerning my country Liberia. Among the many articles I read daily some are encouraging and quite stimulating, while others leaves much to be desired particularly when I attempt to analyse the actual logic behind certain articles. In particular, a rather shallow article by one James W. Harris about Liberia’s Auditor General’s legal or constitutional role in addressing budgetary matters just left me wondering whether this individual actually has Liberia’s current development at heart or whether he is just engaging in an intellectual discourse that really has no basis.

It is therefore against this background that I will like to address Harris’s rather bogus argument that the Auditor General of Liberia (AG) has no legal mandate to publicly address irregularities discovered in the recent 2007 Liberian Budget. In the article which was dated June 19, 2007 in the Liberian Perspective, the Harris stated that the only body with the legal right to carry out a licit address on budgetary matters in the country of Liberia is the legislature.

I must state that before going any further with my response to this individual’s lack of appreciation of the AG’s role regarding budgetary matters in Liberia, it is important to highlight that the good Harris observation of the AG’s position really has nothing to do with the financial integrity of the Liberian Government and its agencies to the Liberian people, but rather his aim was to serve his appetite unfounded argument. For instance, Harris’s article was written not at the request of the innocent Liberian people who are constantly affected by corruption, but it was in response to his colleagues need for an unwarranted debate. I am referring to the so-called “several persons” he mentioned in the beginning paragraph of his work. The people on whom behalf he wrote to address Morlu. His goal unfortunately, was to write on their behalf on matters regarding auditing practice within the territorial boundaries of Liberia. It is clear from the very start of this individual address to the AG or the reading public that the “persons” who drew his attention to the Budget really don’t have Liberia any where near their heart. In fact the ‘good’ scholar implicitly noted at beginning of his work that his goal was not the Liberian government’s integrity before the world, but rather his aim was to prove the AG was legally wrong by chronicling his ‘righteous’ position about the AG’s legal mandate in Liberia. It was therefore no surprise that the good comrade Harris wrote to protest the AG’s ‘lack of respect for legal procedure.’ He even went on to substantiate his so-called claims against the AG by quickly attempting to outlined the Job description of the AG as stipulated by the Executive law of 1972(please see Harris’s Article).

What should however be noted is that the purported constitutional or legal argument this man has put forward is the same argument that has exposed him. For example ,he categorically stated that according to “section 53.3 of the Executive Law of 1972(Part a) it is stipulated that once a year the AG should perform audits of all Government agencies and organization and examine, to the extent the AG deems necessary etcetera.” It is clear in this line that the law has given the AG the power to carefully scrutinized books of government agencies and organizations in Liberia. The AG therefore does not only have a mandate to address the legislature after his/her analyses, but as is deeming appropriate he may examine all transaction and speak out. Note, as he/she deems necessary. This is important because after the AG’s examination, he/she must be accountable within the framework of his/her practice and the law. This mean he/she is to speak out the facts for which he/she was put into office, and according to the requirement of his practice, and not just the law.

The AG is also to prescribe auditing standard. For example if Government standard does not agree with accepted international auditing standard. He/She also has the obligation to ensure Liberia adhere to accepted professional standards. This does not undermine the authority of the legislature in anyway as claimed by Harris. However, even if indeed it did, Harris is not the legal adviser for the legislature. I guess he should try thinking about that now.

It is also a matter of interest to note that the AG is responsible for providing ‘reasonable’ assurance to the National legislature as stipulated in the 1972 Executive law put forward by this Harris fellow. Reasonable assurance reflects the fact that the AG may well know that it is well within reason, without any doubt, that he/she knows what is expected of him/her in dealing with such matter.

Furthermore, to merely assert that the AG operated outside his domain, as was claimed by Harris, is a display of lack of understanding of the role of the AG. The AG is not only Liberia’s auditor general but he has an obligation to other stake holders in and outside Liberia. A good example would be for the purpose that local and international investors may have confident in the nation’s operation, based on sound auditing practices and reports on investments from the AG and others, or the legislature. It’s therefore his/her duty to address matters within this framework.

In all I would close by stating that right now Liberia need an independent Auditor General like Morlu, in order to address budgetary matters. It is within this framework, together with all the stake holders, that accountability and integrity can be achieved if our nation is to go anywhere. Addressing financial irregularities in Liberia is critical for our nation’s development. Indeed it is no academic debate .This is a matter of sanitizing Liberia, to promote future economic growth and sustainable development.

Harris must know indeed that Morlu does have a fish to fry and he (Harris) really has no Fish to Fry.

© 2007 by The Perspective

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