Johnson-Sirleaf, a Nobel peace laureate, has pledged to fight graft as the West African country strives to recover from a sporadic 14-year civil conflict that ended in 2003 and left its once-prosperous economy in tatters.
A presidency statement said Auditor-General Robert Kilby, who took office last year, was being dismissed for a clear conflict of interest due to his private business dealings.
Pearine Davis-Parkinson, director-general of the General Services Agency (GSA), was dismissed for approving contracts involving Kilby in violation of Liberian law.
Davis-Parkinson told a parliamentary committee last week the GSA had employed an accounting firm owned by Kilby to set up an asset tracking system for the government.
“Join me in our continued fight against corruption,” Johnson-Sirleaf said in a statement announcing the dismissals.
Johnson-Sirleaf, who took office as Africa‘s first elected female head of state in 2006, has come under pressure for failing to root out corruption.
A recent audit of resource contracts by the accounting firm Moore Stephens showed that almost all the $8bn worth of resource contracts signed since 2009 violated Liberia’s laws and showed irregularities.
Johnson-Sirleaf told Reuters that the audit had been designed to highlight problems so that they could be addressed, and her government was taking action to do so.
She has forecast that economic growth, which has averaged 6.5% over the past four years, will hit double digits within two years as foreign investment starts to have an impact.
Activities at the General Auditing Commission have come in the prism of review and reflection days after 46 staffers were relieved of their posts due to what the new administration of Robert Kilby terms “overlapping of functions and budgetary constraints.”
The reported unwholesome activities and malpractices reportedly allegedly championed by the new boss include the purchase of vehicle outside of the Procurement Act, employment of individuals on family and friendship basis and many others.
The African Standard an online news magazine in a statement released and cascaded to media entities has detailed some of the troubling activities at the GAC as the involvement of Auditor General Robert Kilby in acts that do not conform to set standards, ranging from the purchase of a vehicle outside of the Procurement Act, the employment of relatives and comrades and many more.
Besides that, he is accused of employing people who lack the professional wherewithal to perform the tedious task at the GAC while at the same time laid off those who underwent rigorous trainings in many fields of the profession here in Liberia and outside at the expense of the institution.
The magazine named the former Engagement Manager of NOCAL audit, Mr. Alieu Konneh, senior auditor Amos Borbor and overall audit boss Richard A. Wisseh as some of the experienced auditors fired.
For example, the African Standard Magazine claimed Mr. Kilby has just hired 18 people, adding US$35,000 per month to GAC monthly payroll.
According to the report, these new positions were not budgeted for in the current 2012/2013 Budget
Some of the staffers hired by Mr. Kilby are named as Cornelia K. Green-Mason, Executive Assistant to AG with the reported salary of $3,000, Theophilus Julu, Manager Facility with the alleged salary of $1,000, Nathaniel Brumskine, Director of Communication with the alleged salary of $3,600, Stephen Weltee Kilby, Executive Driver with the alleged salary of $700 and Ebenezer Clanko Dunn, Messenger with the alleged salary of $700…Read more.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has disclosed that there has been unprecedented success in scaling up malaria control, with a 33 percent decrease in malaria deaths in Africa over the last decade.President Sirleaf said however, the current global funding crisis threatens this progress and the achievement of the health MDGs – Goals 4, 5 and 6.
“Our national malaria control programs have completed comprehensive programmatic and financial gap analyses, detailing a $3.7 billion gap in the finances needed to sustain universal coverage of essential malaria interventions to the end of 2015 in Africa,” President Sirleaf said.
“I speak on behalf of the 44 ALMA Heads of State and Government. As the world begins discussions on the post-2015 development framework, African leaders understand that we have a three-year window to leverage every resource to ensure that we achieve the health goals for our people and to develop plans to sustain the gains,” she said.
President Sirleaf said in the coming months, the High-Level Panel, which she has the honor to co-Chair with British Prime MinisterDavid Cameron and Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono, will lay the groundwork for a global post-2015 agenda with shared responsibilities for all countries and with the fight against poverty and for sustainable development at its core.
“This new agenda must build on the successes that will have been achieved during the MDG era,” she added.
President Sirleaf said over the summer, African leaders rallied and decided that they will be at the forefront of The Big Push to 2015.
In this vein, President Sirleaf said African leaders have decided that it was important to call upon their bilateral, private sector, NGO, CBO, foundation and Development Bank partners to keep their commitments to global health. “They have done a great job thus far, but more is needed because the whole world benefits when our people thrive,” she averred.
She said African leaders have also decided to ensure value for money across all aspects of prevention and treatment which means full transparency and accountability and realizing efficiencies wherever they can be found.
She said ALMA has worked, over the past years with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to model sustained financing plans and to look at financial management best practices.
“We support the roll-out of procurement efficiencies, such as pooled procurement, standardization of net specifications and local manufacture of anti-malarial commodities. By doing so, we can save hundreds of millions of dollars. Uganda, for example, saved $17 million by standardizing mosquito net specifications and opting for pooled procurement,” the Liberian leader said.
She said African leaders have also decided to increase domestic resources from the public and private sectors, key elements of The Big Push to 2015 and beyond while committing to allocate 15 percent of public sector funds to health…Read more.
DAKAR, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Liberia‘s forestry department has given a quarter of the nation’s land to logging firms over the past two years in a flurry of shady deals now under investigation by the government, advocacy groupGlobal Witness said on Tuesday.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, fending off accusations of graft and nepotism within her government, has suspended the head of the West African state’s Forestry Development Authority and launched a probe into the recent timber deals amid concerns of widespread fraud and mismanagement.
Global Witness said its research revealed that the scale of the deals marked a serious threat to the war-torn and impoverished country’s vast rainforests, as well as to the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on them.
“A quarter of Liberia’s total landmass has been granted to logging companies in just two years, following an explosion in the use of secretive and often illegal logging permits,” the group said in a statement.
“Unless this crisis is tackled immediately, the country’s forests could suffer widespread devastation, leaving the people who depend upon them stranded and undoing the country’s fragile progress since the resource-fuelled conflicts of 1989 to 2003.”
Corruption is seen as a big obstacle to development in Liberia, which remains one of the world’s least developed countries nearly a decade after the end of a 14-year civil war.
The government has been struggling to clarify land ownership issues across its vast forested zones, traditionally divided along ethnic lines.
Global Witness said about 26,000 square kilometers of land had been granted to timber companies through at least 66 so-called Private Use Permits – lightly regulated deals between timber companies and private land owners.
It said many of the deals made with individuals said to own the land were backed by land deeds held in the collective name of people of a district or clan who had little knowledge of the accords and would reap little benefit from the timber exported…Read more.
MONROVIA, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) — The African Petroleum (AP), an oil and gas exploration and development company in West Africa, announced on Tuesday that a potentially large accumulation of oil deposits had been found off the coast of Liberia. The discovery was made at National Oil Company of Liberia (NACOL) Narina-1 exploratory well drilled in BlockLB-09… According to McClain, the process necessitating the tests for the oil’s discovery would take a pretty extended time. He told reporters that the country’s oil evaluation would indicate as to whether the deposits are in sufficient quantity to be commercially viable for production. NACOL said a period of additional 5 to 7 years is expected for the project immediately after the appraisals.
The discovery by the AP is said to have taken place in Block LB- 09 off the coast of Liberia. This block is one of the blocks being operated by the company under a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA). The PSA was negotiated by the executive branch and then later ratified by the legislature in 2008. The exploratory well is among several that have been drilled during the periods 2011 and 2012…Read more.
d. We have established and empowered an Anti-Corruption Commission with full powers to fight corruption anywhere in Government, including at the highest levels;
e. We have restructured and funded the General Auditing Commission, making it accountable to the Legislature as it is done in the United States and other progressive countries;
f. We have given the GAC sweeping powers to audit any official and/or agency of government, even at the highest levels, at anytime, without necessarily seeking approval from the President or anyone else;
g. We have required appointed officials to declare their assets to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
h. We have ensured total freedom for the media to investigate and expose corruption everywhere in the country; we have required every agency of Government to fully cooperate with the works of the GAC and Anti-Corruption Commission. While we have always had qualms with the mode of operation of the GAC, we have fully supported the Commission and cooperated with its work;
i. Although overall corruption clearly remains a serious challenge in the country, we have made progress in our fight against corruption as evidenced by our ranking on the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index, which shows that Liberia ranks 13th place out of 47 countries on progress made against corruption in sub-Saharan Africa today compared to 30th place in 2008, an improvement of about 13 places.
As I have always said, corruption is not a new problem in Liberia. It is almost as old as the country itself. Therefore, the fight against it has got to be the responsibility of all Liberians, and it will take time, sacrifices and patience from all of us.
Our current Auditor-General, Mr. John S. Morlu II, was recruited and nominated by me in January 2007, confirmed by the Liberian Senate in February 2007 and assumed the position in March 2007.
On my advice to them regarding this appointment, the European Union concluded an agreement with the Auditor-General to pay the salary for the first four years of the contract, with the understanding that the Liberian Government will assume this responsibility thereafter. We want to thank the European Union for ensuring that the Auditor-General’s compensation was lucrative and for providing other forms of support to the GAC for the past four years.
We did not always agree with the way Mr. Morlu performed his job, including an indictment that our Government was three times more corrupt than its predecessors, even before he officially commissioned his very first audit. However, we continued to support him and want to sincerely thank him for his immense contributions to our fight against corruption. Our disagreements over his mode of operation have never negated the fact that he has established a foundation that his successors can build upon in the fight against corruption.
Fellow Liberians, whatever our differences and opinions, whatever our motives and objectives, the Office of the President demands a certain amount of respect and I can do no less than assure that this is the case. Additionally, as the fight against corruption will continue to demand a hefty amount of our time, our energies, our thoughts and our resources, we can ill-afford needless distractions and controversies. Therefore, I will not be re-nominating him for the post of Auditor-General of the Republic of Liberia.
Thus, in conformity with the Act, approved May 5, 2005, which changed the status of the General Auditing Commission, the Deputy Auditor-General will act in the capacity of the Auditor-General until, through a professional recruitment process, a new Auditor-General is nominated. This will ensure continuity in the work and independence of the General Auditing Commission.
We will ask for continued financial and technical support of the European Union to the General Auditing Commission. This will enable us to act even more effectively in fighting corruption and in pursuing appropriate legal action against those charged with financial malpractice in the 40-plus audit reports that have been concluded.
Please be assured that the change in the Auditor-General represents a mere change in person. Our commitment to continue the fight against corruption remains inviolate.