Monrovia- Liberia’s finance minister Amara Konneh has called for stronger legislative oversight to ensure that ministries and agencies are compliant with the laws consistent with Section 20.3 of the public financial management act.
Minister Konneh said all spending entities are fully accountable to the President and the national legislature for their performance in the implementation of their budgets.
Konneh disclosed that the issue of transparency in the use of public fund is a serious problem that the government is faced with and should be given serious attention by the legislature.
“The spending transparency problem is not only with the health sector but other agencies receiving taxpayers' money these agencies must account and in a timely manner for funds they received,” he told senators on Thursday.
“Section 20.3 of the public financial law states that Ministers of individual spending Ministries and other heads of budgetary institutions and agencies which are separately identified in the Annual Appropriations Act, are responsible for the proper and efficient execution of their budget in accordance with this Act, the regulations issued under it and the instructions and guidelines issued by the Minister."
The head of the country Treasury also said that consultancy and professional fees seem to be routine expenditure line for most of the ministries and agencies including the health sector.
"No construction has been carried out, though all the funds were dispensed," he revealed.
He told the lawmakers that where projects were expected to carry cost of investment, most of the spending was made on non-investment related activities contrary to what these projects were intended for.
He made the comments Thursday when he appeared before Plenary of the Senate to answer to questions about the delay in the payment of salaries for health workers, in Grand Bassa, Maryland and Grand Kru Counties.
Speaking on the issue of salaries for health workers the Finance minister blamed the delay to what he said is the lack of coordination among ministries and agencies that are spending tax payers’ monies.
On the specific issue of health workers’ salaried he told the senators that the vouchers for salaries for those workers were raise lately by the health ministry thus leading to the delay of salary payment for the workers.
He disclosed that other counties have already begun to receive checks and those counties such as Grand Kru, and Maryland which he described as hard to reach delayed because of transportation hurdles.
He accused the health ministry of not making any impact in the health sector with money allotted them in the National budget.
“A lot of money has been allotted to the health sector with no improvement made; for a matter of fact the health ministry had 22 million more in their 2012/2013 fiscal year budget than the previous budget year. We need to focus on the expenditure side of things we need to ask public officials how they are spending the money,” he said.
Commenting on money placed in the National budget from the pool fund he said 77.6 million was placed in the budget from the fund and that money was intended to be divided among other government ministries and agencies.
Konneh statement was in response to claims made by the health ministry that the money allocated in the budget under the pool fund was intended for the health ministry.
Also speaking Deputy Health minister for administration Matthew Flomo said the ministry is faced with a complex problem of employees coming from the NGO sector to government.
He said health workers in the three counties affected was being funded by Merlin an international non-Governmental organization, but since the departure of the organization from the counties government has shouldered the responsibility of the workers.
He said the problem of salaries has been settled with the finance ministry and promised that in the shortest possible time health workers in these counties will begin to receive their salaries.