REPORT ON PAC WORKSHOP

This report is on a five-day retreat held in preparation for upcoming Public Hearings on the Auditor General’s reports and the enhancement of the capacity of Public Accounts Committee members as well as the PAC Secretariat of the 54th Legislature in the scrutiny of statement of accounts of SOEs. The workshop was planned for five days beginning with the capacity building of SOEs Unit staffs from October 20-21, followed by the PAC members’ workshop which went from October 21-24, 2020 at the Jackie’s Guest House in Ganta, Nimba County. However, the workshop ended on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020 instead of Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.

DAY-1: Wednesday, October 21, 2020:

The PAC members’ workshop began on Wednesday, October 21 and ended on Friday, October 23, 2020.

Giving the overview of the workshop, Hon. Edward W. Karfiah identified as a serious problem the redundancy of SOEs in complying with the remittance of amounts they were assessed for and that as a result, MACs are underfunded and consequently, their activities are not financed.

Mr. Michael M. Thomas, the Executive Director of PAC Secretariat provided a step-by-step procedure relative to the receipt of audit reports from GAC. This was followed by a question & answer period. In conclusion, the Deputy Auditor General, Mr. Wesley Nanka recommended that at the end of the retreat, a Form Committee be setup to ensure implementation of recommendations.

Making presentations at the retreat were the following integrity institutions:

  1. LACC
  2. GC
  3. GAC
  4. PPCC
  5. IAA

The presentations were centered round the fight against corruption in the perspectives of the institutions, specifically on the execution of their mandates, achievements thus far, current activities, challenges and recommendations. One of the key issues coming out of Mr. Nanka’s presentation was the issue of Financial Autonomy as enshrined in the GAC Act being infringed upon. Comments coming on the floor indicated that this problem is not unique to the GAC as other institutions like the LACC do not enjoy their Financial Autonomy stipulated in their acts. Hon. Alphonso Gaye promised to have PAC look into this matter as it is a violation of the laws governing the integrity institutions.

DAY-2: Thursdays, October 23, 2020:

  1. Presentation on the impact fight against corruption from the SOE Unit’s perspective:

Key issues discussed out of the presentation were:

  • Function overlap between the State Owned Enterprise unit and the Bureau State Enterprise;
  • The need to enhance collaboration between the SOE Unit and GC since they all conduct SOEs assessments;
  • Financial Reporting format for SOEs: Some SOEs are using IPSAS, IRIS or GAP while others don’t report at all. Of the 16 SOEs, only 30% (5 SOEs) are in compliant and are submitting adequate information;
  • The SOE Unit is understaffed: there are 39 SOEs but the Unit is only monitoring 16.
  • The need for lawmakers to enforce the PFM law was stressed.

It was reported by PAC that MoFDP is always reporting on the budget year that there are no undisbursed balances the budgetary appropriations and allotments of MACs; meaning that all approved budgets are always utilized. Going forward, MACs are to send copies of their quarterly reports to PAC.

  • Presentation from IAA’s perspectives:

Mr. Akoi in making this presentation provided clarity on the mandates of GAC and IAA, and said that they are not doing the same work.

Following the presentation of IAA, it was recommended that the LACC send copies of their Corruption Risks Assessments conducted by the E & P to the IAA since they have their Internal Auditors seated in the MACs.

Another recommendation was that before any Presidential Appointee is confirmed, the PAC should ensure that integrity institutions (preferably GAC & LACC) are contacted to verify that the appointees are not under investigation by the LACC.

The following audit reports were presented by Mr. Nanka of GAC and they were reviewed by PAC members:

Audit reports on Nimba County CDF, LPRC, NASSCORP, & NPA. 

DAY-3/4: Friday/Saturday, Oct. 23, 2020

I played spider on day 3 and could not be at this retreat for the first two presentations. When I got there in the afternoon, they were closing the retreat because they have condensed all activities for the two days on day-3. Therefore, the workshop ended on day-3.