LIBERIA: THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE EXPENDS 48 MILLIONS MORE THAN WHAT WAS AUTHORIZED
The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) exceeded approved Legislative Budgetary Appropriation by US$48,194,043.99 for 13 ministries, agencies and commissions during the fiscal year January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022.
The disclosure was contained in the Audit of Government of Liberia Consolidated Funds Account Financial Statements for the Financial Year January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022.
The audit report was released to the National Legislature by Liberia’s Auditor General, Mr. P. Garswa Jackson on August 31, 2023.
According to the report, the MFDP facilitated disbursement of Grant expenditure to ten (10) ministries, agencies and commissions amounting to US$ 25,370,063.99 in excess of the approved appropriation in the National Budget for the Fiscal Year 2022.
The approved grant as per the National Budget was US$37,690,882 while the MFDP disbursed US$63, 060, 945.99 resulting in an over spending of US$25, 370.063.99 without Legislative approval.
These grants in some cases, where in addition to the approved budgetary appropriation allotted to the affected ministries and agencies.
The entities include the National Legislature, grant budget of US$2,457,312 and actual expenditure of US$8,381,913.73 resulting in excess expenditure of US$5,924,601.73; Ministry of Internal Affairs grant budget of US$9,991,369 and actual expenditure of US$14,147,631.50 resulting in excess expenditure of US4,156,262.50; Ministry of Health, grant budget of US$7,005,943 and actual expenditure of US$10,940,654.42 resulting in excess expenditure of US$3,934,711.42, among others.
Additionally, the GAC observed that MFDP expended moneys that exceeded the approved appropriation of three (3) Government entities amounting to US$ 22,823,980.
The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning Actual Expenditure FY 2022 was US$141,521,860 and FY2022 Revised Budget was US$123,023,940 resulting in an excess expenditure of US$18, 497,920; National Security Agency Actual Expenditure was US$29, 741,010 and FY2022 Revised Budget was US$25,704,000 resulting in excess expenditure of US$4,037,010 and Liberia Revenue Authority for FY2022 Actual Expenditure was US$16,311,880 and Revised Budget was US$16,022,830 resulting in excess expenditure of US$289.050.
There was no evidence of disclosure of the Statement of Excess Expenditure neither did the GAC obtain evidence of legislative approval, the reported stated.
These excess disbursements were contrary to Section 24(1-2) of the PFM Act of 2009 amended and restated 2019 which states that where, in exceptional circumstances, at the close of account for any fiscal year it is found that moneys have been expended on any expenditure in excess of the amount appropriated for it by an Appropriation Act or a Supplementary Appropriation Act or for a purpose for which no moneys have been appropriated or not appropriated, as the case may be, shall be included in a statement of excess expenditure.
The Minister shall lay every statement of expenditure in excess before the Legislature, which shall refer it to the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature, and the Minister shall at the same time send a copy of the statement to the President.
The GAC therefore recommended among others that going forward, the MFDP should ensure that all excess expenditure exceeding authorized limits are approved by the National Legislature. Management should ensure that a Statement of Excess Expenditure is prepared and submitted to the National Legislature in a timely manner consistent with Section 24(1-2) of the PFM Act of 2009 as amended and restated 2019
In response to the GAC’s findings, the Management of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning indicated among others, stated that, ‘‘management would like to inform the GAC that all change in initial approved original amounts and the final amounts in the budgets were implemented in accordance with the mentioned PFM Regulations and all supporting authorizations are maintained for administrative and audit purposes.”
However, the Auditor General maintained that Management provided no evidence that it prepared and presented copy of a Statement of Excess Expenditure to the National Legislature and a copy to the Office of the President consistent with Section 24(1-2) of the PFM Act of 2009 as amended and restated 2019.
Also, in contravention to PFM Regulation 8.1,2, and 3 mentioned in Management’s response, Management facilitated excess payments to the highlighted GoL institutions without documenting whether the excess disbursements were as a result of over collection of approved projected revenue, national emergencies nor were there evidence that the National Legislature were informed accordingly.
Therefore, the GAC maintained its findings and recommendations and the GAC will follow up on the implementation of its recommendation during subsequent audit, the report stated.
This is not the first time that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has exceeded Legislative Approved Budgetary appropriation to some Government Entities without Legislative authorization.
GAC’s audit of the of Government of Liberia Consolidated Funds Account Financial Statements for the Fiscal year July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 and the Special Budget Year July 1, to December 31, 2021reported that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning exceeded Approved Legislative Appropriation in eighteen (18) months by US$40.8 million without Legislative Authorization as required by the Public Financial Management Laws of Liberia.
In all, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has exceeded Legislative Approved Budgetary Appropriation by a whopping US$89 million in two and a half years without Legislative authorization.