Liberia’s new auditor general says his efforts to fight corruption are being frustrated by government ministers and agency directors. John Morlu The Second was recruited a little over a month ago by the European Union and later approved by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to serve as auditor general of Liberia and help fight corruption. Now Morlu told VOA that government officials facing possible audit are making his and other financial experts’ job more difficult.
“The job is a challenging job. As you know, most people don’t like to hear the word auditing. So that’s a natural inclination for people to not want to accept such an outcome. But at the end of the day, this is something that is part of accountability and has to be done,” he said.
The Governance Economic and Management Assistance Program (GEMAP) was put in place under an international agreement to help control corruption in Liberia.
But Morlu said GEMAP experts are also facing stiff resistance from government ministers. He also said Liberia’s current national budget is flawed.
“At the end of the day the fight against corruption must begin with the budget, and this budget leaves out almost 60 percent of the revenue base of this country. Now unless we can handle that, whether is the auditor general, whether is GEMAP, we will all fail to fight corruption. Mrs. Sirleaf understands that. So that’s why I am pushing very hard and working with the GEMAP to ensure that every revenue that belongs to the Liberian people, every dollar must be put back on the table and accounted for,” Morlu said.
He said some government ministers and directors of agencies are refusing to cooperate with GEMAP experts.
“I think the holdback in implementing the GEMAP, from what I have been able to learn so far, is coming from the government ministers and government directors, institutions in which the GEMAP works. I think the GEMAP is a good program. I think it will work. But there is a lot of lack of cooperation on the part of certain quarters of the administration to make sure that it is effective and working,” he said.
Auditor General Morlu said he was not sure whether President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was aware of the difficulties that the GEMAP experts were facing. But he said there was pressure being brought on the financial experts.
“I don’t know whether she’s aware or not. But what I know is the fact. I have talked with the GEMAP people, and these guys are under extreme pressure to conform. I have come under the same pressure as a Liberian to conform. People tell you will fall in line. People tell me you will come down to our level. They try to frustrate every effort in this country to maintain the status quo. So if they can do that to me as a Liberian, just imagine what they are doing to these GEMAP people,” he said.
Morlu expressed frustration that he and other financial experts are not being allowed to do the job they were hired to do.
“Look, at the end of the day, this Sirleaf Government will never be accountable until it is audited, until we can make sure that the money that belongs to the Liberian people is accounted for. We are prosecuting people today – Gyude Bryant, Edwin Snowe, a whole lot of people based on audit. So let’s audit the Ellen government to see. Some people don’t what that happen. So from where I sit and what information I got, this government is three times more corrupt than Gyude Bryant government. So let’s put the resources in the institutions to withhold and to audit to identify the weaknesses and hold people accountable,” Morlu said.