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The Joint Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature has endorsed a recommendation contained in the General Auditing Committee (GAC) audit report calling on the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) to provide records of the US$651,378,000 approved for inmates' welfare.

 

The Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation operates under the Ministry of Justice. The GAC report stated that the Bureau failed to utilize funding provided by the Government of Liberia for the welfare of inmates at prison facilities.

The report indicated that only 52% of a total appropriation of US$554,799.000 for fiscal year 2008/09 and 41% of US$649, 891 for fiscal year 2009/10 were utilized.

The report also revealed that the total appropriation of US$1,204,690 of which only US$533,312.00 was used, represented actual expenditure incurred by the Bureau for prison operations.

The report further said during the auditing period, additional sources of funding from donor partners were identified including the Peace Building Fund, IRCRC, GTZ, UNMIL, UNCHR and US$600,000 from the U.S Government in support for the construction of a structure at the Monrovia Central Prison.

According to the Auditor General's Report, Norwegian Government provided US$400,000 for the construction of National Palace of Correction in Grand Gedeh County and the renovation of the Gbarnga Central Prison.

However, the PAC said during public hearing on the issue, authorities of the Ministry of Justice confirmed the under-utilization of funds intended for prison systems but clarified that the Ministry did not receive said appropriations due to budget shortfalls.

The Justice Ministry's authorities, according to the PAC, blamed the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for not making available the necessary funding appropriated in the national budget for these periods.

On the issues of financial improprieties, the GAC indicated that the Bureau did maintain financial records of purchases made during the periods under review to substantiate whether funds were used for the intended purposes.

GAC report also said prison superintendents failed to provide financial records to justify expenditures made from allocations provided by the BCR.

The report noted that checks were issued directly to prison directors who in turn paid out cash to Wardens for basic operations of the prisons, which is said to be in violation of the Public Financial Management Act of 2009.