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Saturday, July 20, 2024

LIBERIA: DID AUDITOR GENERAL TRY TO COVER UP FOR MIN. SAMUEL TWEAH?

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Liberia’s Auditor General, Garswa Jackson Sr., has come under serious criticism for the form and manner he handled a recent Road Funds audit.

Even though the GAC reported discrepancies in the funding and management of the Road Funds program, Auditor General Garswa gave an unqualified opinion on a recent audit of the Road Funds management in which the audit revealed the diversion of over US$20 Million.

An unqualified opinion is an independent auditor’s judgment that a company’s financial statements are fairly and appropriately presented, without any identified exceptions, and in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

According to Local and International audit experts who spoke with Smart News Liberia, auditor reports with a standard unqualified opinion is only issued by an auditor when the financial statements are judged to be free from material misstatements and presented fairly in compliance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

The General Auditing Commission reports revealed the National Road Funds Annual Financial Statements for 2018-2020, showing the Liberia Revenue Authority collected US$ 48,364,012 for the fiscal year.

It said of the amount collected, a total of US$ 28,005,540 was transferred to the escrow account of the National Road Fund and a total amount of US$ 20,358,572.00 is yet to be transferred for the period.

GAC report further states that the government could not fully finance what was approved by the inter-ministerial steering committee; instead, withheld funds to the tune of US$ 13,358,572 and transferred an amount of US$7 million as direct budget support for the fiscal period 2019/2020.

The experts say the above constitutes a misstatement on the part of the road funds managers. They added, the decision is allegedly criminal and does not deserve an unqualified opinion from a trained and professional auditor general.

The audit experts note that the act that created the Road funds program, demanded that funds intended for road maintenance and construction must only be placed directly in the funds’ escrow account and not the so-called consolidated account of the government.

According to them, the failure to place all of the funds in the escrow account is not just a violation of the law, but a deliberate scheme to steal public funds.

Our Experts note that for the auditor to give an unqualified opinion, he must have discovered no material errors in accounting practices (for example, the auditor verifies that it has accounted for inventory correctly, has kept good records regarding its cash accounts, and provided adequate records for review.

They say, in the instant case, the auditor general, Garswa Jackson massively erred by contradicting his own findings of wrongdoings to give managers of the Road Funds including finance minister Samuel Tweah an unqualified opinion of its report.

One of them opined that the Liberian Auditor General’s action is deliberate and that the ‘Unqualified Opinion” of the road funds report is intended to cover up the finance minister and the entire road funds managers.

Another called for his dismissal for misleading the National Legislature and the entire country in his audit reporting.

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Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

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