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Senate Faces GAC Audit… Amid New Reform Measures

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MONROVIA: In one month as Pro Tempore of the Senate, Madam Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence has hit the grounds running with several reform measures.

The new measures which include modernization plans are intended to enhance accountability, transparency, fiscal prudence, research, oversight, and dignity in the Upper House of the country’s bicameral Legislature.

Senator Karnga-Lawrence has also set sight on ensuring an improved sanitation by providing pipe-borne water in all bathrooms; a situation, which has been a major challenge for several years at the Capitol.

The water, sourced from bore holes dug on the grounds of the Capitol has solved the age-old problem of “No water in the bathroom.”

The availability of running water in the Senate wing based on the effort of the Senate Pro-Tempore has so far enhanced the sanitary condition of the Upper-House.

Pro-Tempore Karnga-Lawrence has also commenced works relating to installation of public Wi-fi at the Senate.

When completed, the internet service (Wi-fi) will affect the various corridors at the Senate`s wing, and also the chambers where regular plenary sessions and hearings are held or conducted every Tuesday and Thursday of a week.

The Plenary is the highest-decision making body of the Senate.

As part of her efforts in promoting transparency and accountability, Grand Bassa County Senator, Madam Karnga- Lawrence has announced a System Audit at the Senate, working with the state-owned General Auditing Commission (GAC), to accomplish such a remarkable task.

In a formal communication to the GAC, the President Pro-Tempore noted that the Audit Initiative, taken by her leadership, is gear towards promoting accountability, transparency, and fiscal prudence in the management of the Senate.

“As part of the reform initiative, the Liberian Senate would like for the Auditor General of Liberia to conduct financial management system and controls assessment of the Senate’s operating environment for the current period,” she said in said communication.

The assessment of the GAC would include the review of the Senate’s Accounting and Financial Management Processes, Policies and Procedures, Financial Reporting, Internal Controls, Documents Management System, and Compliance with Applicable Laws and Regulations.

Its objective will also be to identify areas of weaknesses in the financial management system and controls environment.

Thereafter, the GAC will recommend improvements to ensure that the Senate financial management system and controls environment are operated effectively and efficiently.

In coherent with her effort to ensure transparency and credibility, and leading by example, the Senate, under her Leadership, has agreed to set up a mini-desk at the Capitol of the Senate’s Wing for Staffers of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), assigned there to enhance the Process of Assets Declaration of Senators who are yet to complete the process of their assets’ declaration.

According to the Senate Pro-Tempore, the LACC Desk at the Senate Wing will help and provide guidance on the process of filling in the assets’ declaration forms for Senators to be able to submit them to the anti-graft Commission on time.

On the other hand, as a major national concern, Pro-Tempore Karnga-Lawrence has also setup a Specialized Senate Committee to investigate the causes behind the recent protest by women, who are believed to be the wives and widows of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

Members of the committee include; Sen. Augustine Chea, (Sinoe County) chair; Sen. Amara Konneh (Gbarpolu County), Co-Chair; Sen. Darius Dillon (Montserrado County) Member; Sen. James Biney (Sinoe County), Member; Sen. Momo Cyrus (Lofa County), member; Sen. Dabah Varpilah (Grand Cape-Mount County), Member; Sen. Gble-Gbo Brown (Maryland County), Member; Sen. Crayton Duncan (Sinoe County), member; and Sen. Francis Dopoe (River Gee-County), member.

The Committee will probe the situation that caused the cancellation of celebration marking the recent observance of the Armed Forces Day (AFL), which is a national event held every year on February 11.

The Committee has also been mandated to look into the main cause of the situation and recommend appropriate remedies to the Senate Plenary that could be transmitted into policy action to avoid the re-occurrence of such national embarrassment.

Meanwhile, the President Pro-Tempore has also constituted a technical committee to plan a retreat which is aimed at looking into the substantive issues facing the Liberian people and how Senators’ oversight can be strengthened to allow the national budget positively affect the ordinary people; to improve on staffers incomes and benefits, train and employ specialized staffers to enhance Senators’ effectiveness in service.

Senator Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County has been charged with the responsibility to plan the retreat in consultation with the office of the Pro-Tempore.

The Office of the President Pro-Tempore has furthermore begun the process of a regular senate session journal to bring the public up to date with the daily or weekly activities of the Liberian Senate, something, she strongly believes, will bring about openness in the Senate.

With collaboration with the Executive Branch, for the first time in many years, the Senate, under the leadership of Pro-Tempore Karnga-Lawrence met with the President of Liberia, Joseph Boakai, to encourage regular engagements for the smooth operations of the government.

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