Home Economy For Two Years: NaFAA Fails To Submit Financial Report …As National Budget Faces “Significant Fiscal Risk”

For Two Years: NaFAA Fails To Submit Financial Report …As National Budget Faces “Significant Fiscal Risk”

by newsmanager

MONROVIA: The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), has miserably failed to submit an Annual Financial Report for 2023 and the previous year.

According to the Bureau of State Enterprises Portfolio of State-Owned Enterprises Annual Aggregate Performance Report 2023, NaFAA violated section 59 (2) of the Amended and Restated Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2019 and M.10 and M.11 of the PFM Regulations of 2009.

“Therefore,” the Report said, “it is difficult to do a comprehensive analysis of the financial performance, financial position and viability of the entity for the fiscal year under review.

Touching on NaFAA’s Financial Performance the table below depicts NaFAA’s Financial Reporting Status for Fiscal Year (FY2023), which includes the financial performance for Qarter-1 of the year under review.

Commenting on what it calls “Government Exposure,” the Report indicated that delayed reporting reduces the availability of crucial information for assessing the entity’s financial health and guiding Government decisions.

However, according to the Report, “the lack of reports to monitor the performance of NaFAA poses a significant fiscal risk to the national budget, which may impact the Government’s fiscal position.
The report stressed that “NaFFA’s deliberate non-compliance with the FMA laws is a serious issue that requires the attention of the office of the President to ensure compliance.”
In a related development, the Workers Association of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAAWA) has expressed grave concern over ‘the misapplication of project funds’ within the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).
In a press statement issued recently, NaFAAWA called on the President of Liberia, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, to take action as soon as possible to safeguard the image and integrity of NaFAA and the Rescue Mission.

The Workers Association’s call comes in the wake of recent investigations by the World Bank Liberia Mission which uncovered discrepancies in the allocation and utilization of the World Bank-funded Project (LSMFP) funds, Sustainable Management of Fisheries Project (LSMFP) funds and directly implicated Madam Emma Metieh Glassco, Director General of NaFAA.

The findings of the World Bank Mission, a copy of which is in our possession, revealed shocking instances where allocated project funds were diverted for unauthorized purposes, contrary to the intended objectives and guidelines set forth in the Project Appraisal Document (PAD).

“This blatant misuse of funds represents a breach of trust and fiduciary responsibility,” the Association added.

The World Bank Mission findings further revealed that Madam Glassco has rejected the project’s proposal to build a climate-smart state-of-the-art headquarters for NaFAA and has diverted the US$3 million dollars allocated for this purpose to purchasing vehicles and generators which are not being utilized by the project.

Disturbingly, the two 100KVA generators are in use at the residence of Madam Glassco and the vehicles are being used at the discretion of Madam Glassco while the project has only two cars for its operations, the workers alleged.

Despite encouragement from the World Bank Mission to return these assets to the project, Madam Glassco has refused to comply, according to the workers Association.

The fisheries sector of Liberia lacks basic infrastructures including an administrative building with adequate workspace compared to our sub-regional counterparts such as Sierra Leone, Ghana. Guinea, Ivory Coast etc.
Additionally, the two offices of NaFAA are not providing adequate or conducive workspace and environment for the over 200 plus staff of NaFAA.
Directors and their subordinates are balloon in one small office with no space, and even the office per department cannot provide the workspace needed for all the staff of a department. As a result, staffs are seen sitting underneath the trees, in corridors or sitting in the conference room during working hours, the Association stressed.

The refusal of the Director General to construct the headquarter of NaFAA is the testament of her lack of vision for the fisheries and aquaculture sector. This has led to the running of the two offices of NaFAA that have proven to be cost intensive and NaFAA on its own cannot independently afford the running cost of both buildings. That is the reason why the LSMFP Component 4 operational budget is almost depleted.

Moreover, the LSMFP will be constructing a fishing port at the technical office and during that period and after, the three technical departments currently occupying the building will not be allowed to use their offices. The original design for the technical building office was to only host the FMC and the inspectorate program including the computer lab, while the rest of the offices will be used by the port management.

The Association said her misapplication of donors’ funds does not only undermine the credibility of NaFAA, it betrays the public trusts, and will serve as an impediment for international partners to support the institution.

NaFAA is currently divided, and senior staff who have worked tirelessly to support the reformation in the sector have been sidelined at the detriment of the institution while Madam Glassco walks around in vainglory threatening to get rid of staffs when the dust settles,” NaFAAWA noted.

The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA was established by an Act of the Legislature in 2017.

The mandate of NaFAA under the Act is to manage all fisheries resources, which are the natural habitat of the Republic, and the natural assets, heritage, and sovereign rights of the people of Liberia.

The fisheries authority has jurisdictional and consequential custody of these resources to ensure that they are sustainably managed and economically viable for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Revenue generated from the fisheries and aquaculture sector is distributed between NaFAA and the Government of Liberia on a 60 percent to 40 percent basis.

NaFAA generates bits core revenue from regulatory charges, including access fees license fees, earned from fishing vessels and input and export permit fees earned from importers and exporters of fish.

However, responding to claims of corruption recently reported by this paper, the Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) has denied corruption allegations surrounding the World Bank-funded Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries Project (LSMFP).
Madam Emma Metieh Glassco denounced the claims as baseless, emphasizing that all disbursements from the LSMFP have undergone rigorous review and approval processes by the World Bank, with no expenditure made without explicit consent.

Following media reported recent findings from a World Bank review mission on the LSMFP), NaFAA’s Director General issued a statement on Monday, June 24, addressing allegations of misapplication of US$831,000 by NaFAA officials.

The funds were reportedly taken from a US$3 million budget intended for constructing the National headquarters of the institution.

The NaFAA DG refuted these claims, expressing concern that such unfounded allegations could potentially undermine the integrity of Liberia’s fisheries sector and ongoing efforts to ensure sustainable management.

She highlighted the multiple layers of oversight and approval involved in LSMFP’s implementation, with collaboration between the World Bank, the Ministry of Finance, and NaFAA’s Project Implementation Unit.

LSMFP’s implementation, the statement indicated, “involves multiple layers of oversight and approval, disclosing that the World Bank, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, through the Project Financial Management Unit (PFMU), and NaFAA’s Project Implementation Unit (PIU) manage the project collaboratively.”

The annual work plan under the project is approved by the Project Steering Committee and is subject to World Bank review and approval, which guides all activities. “No payments are processed without the World Bank’s clearance, and the Director General has no direct involvement in fund disbursements,” the statement noted.

“There was no disbursement done without the explicit ‘no objection’ from the World Bank. Each transaction has been executed through the Ministry of Finance with the World Bank project office’s oversight, ensuring transparency and accountability,” she said.
Glassco clarified that the funds in question were allocated for essential project items, including vehicles, motorbikes, billboards, and generators, necessary for effective project implementation. She refuted accusations of the misuse of vehicles for political campaigns, labeling them as false and without merit.

“We possess comprehensive documentation to substantiate these processes; these will be made available to the public and the media,” she said in the statement.

Reacting to the US$3 million initially allocated for constructing the NaFAA Headquarters, Madam Glassco explained that US$831,000 was spent on essential project items, including six vehicles, two motorbikes, public awareness billboards, and electric generators.

“These expenditures were necessary for the effective implementation of the project and were sanctioned by the World Bank.” She said, dispelling the allegations that the vehicles were purchased for political campaigns.

She disclosed that the procurement of the six vehicles received was approved by the World Bank, and two of these vehicles are actively used by the PIU for project activities. She said all expenditures are aligned with the project’s objectives and have been transparently managed with the World Bank’s consent.

She blamed the “fake reports” on those she termed as distractors, some of whom are both current and former employees. “These people are perpetuating these falsehoods to tarnish my reputation and to seek my removal from the office, though it is a tenured position. “This orchestrated misinformation campaign is a direct attack on the progress and transparency NaFAA has maintained under my leadership.”

Interestingly, Madam Glassco is yet to comment on her administration’s alleged refusal to submit financial report to the Bureau of State-Owned Enterprises for two years, 2022 and 2023.

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