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GAC Audits Liberia’s
31 Years Domestic Debts
-Harmonizes Gov’t Payrolls From ATAPS To CSM Module

The General Auditing Commission (GAC) has announced that two major independent audits are ongoing across the country.
The African Development Bank is funding the Government of Liberia domestic debts audit which commenced October 27, 2021 while the national Civil service audit supported by the World Bank commenced since October 15, 2021.
Addressing a press gathering on Friday at the GAC head offices, the Auditor General, P. Garswa Jackson, Sr. rolled out the Commission’s plans relative to the importance of the exercise.
The exercises which are ongoing across the country along with development partners are based on negotiations with the Government of Liberia.
The scope of the Wage-Bill Team was to collapse salaries across government in an automated payroll system that would pay employees in two denominations: United States Dollars & Liberian Dollars, in percentage ratios determined on the availability and amount of monies in the Government’s coffers for any given payment period.
Unfortunately, the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS) (CSM) payroll module was configured to pay salaries only in Liberian Dollars while the Alternative Temporary Automated Payroll System (ATAPS) was developed and programmed to pay salaries in multi currencies as approved in the interim.
The Civil Service Agency and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning worked with Freebalance (the company that built the (CSM) payroll module) to reconfigure multi- currency functionalities in the Civil Service Management payroll module and since July 2018, the ATAP) has been used for processing and paying of civil servants’ salaries.
Now that the CSM payroll module has been reconfigured to handle multi-currency functionalities, the GAC under the AG Jackson said there is a need to seamlessly migrate the harmonized payroll dataset from ATAPS into the IFMIS (CSM) payroll module.
Therefore, the government in collaboration with the World Bank engaged the services of GAC to verify the civil servants’ payroll data in ATAPS and the effectiveness of the controls over the use of the payroll data before it is migrated to CSM payroll module.
The government and the World Bank have concluded that before the migration of payroll data from the ATAPS to CSM payroll module, a comprehensive (100%) head count verification of all government’s employees must be performed with an assurance from the stakeholders that they will provide reasonable assurance over the completeness of payroll data in ATAPS before migration to the CSM.
Therefore, in establishing the completeness and accuracy of payroll data in the ATAPS, the GAC will validate assertions categorized in the mapping of the country into five regions with plans to perform the comprehensive head count verification in the regions simultaneously to prevent significant movement of employees across the country, thereby minimizing the risks of employees being counted more than once.
The initial count exercise will last for 30 working days and the GAC will utilize payroll data extracted from the ATAPS as source documents for performing the verification while the employees will be validated by presentation of their Identification Cards, credentials and through inquiries conducted by auditors.
The Heads of Government Ministries and Agencies (which are the Principal Accounting Officers per the Public Financial Management Regulations) will also be expected to take ownership of this process by facilitating the full participation of their employees during the verification.
After the initial verification, reconciliation will be performed between the system data and the head count results taking a period of 15 working days given to individuals who were not physically verified during the process or those classified as “doubtful” to prove their existence.
These individuals will be expected to assemble at designated centers in the regions with evidence of employment to substantiate their employment claims as the GAC recommends removal of employees who were not verified during both verification periods from the payroll.
The Auditor General said to further ascertain the completeness and accuracy of payroll data in the ATAPS, the GAC will segment individuals of similar portfolios in Government and reconcile the salaries of selected individuals to the government’s harmonized pay grades adding, “We will also reconcile the net salaries per the payroll data in ATAPS to net salaries sent to employees’ bank accounts.”
The AG explained that the government through the Ministry of Finance in 2008 commissioned a study to verify the authenticity of claims submitted and reached a conclusive recommendation whether to accept or reject those claims but currently, there is no comprehensive database to indicate whether or not a claim has been fully settled.
It can be recalled that KPMG (Ghana) was contracted to conduct a comprehensive audit on all vendor claims and other domestic debts that were accumulated during the period between January 1982 and October 2003 and arrears incurred on these debts from October 2003 to January 2006. KPMG (Ghana) at the end of its exercise classified the claims it vetted as either “Valid, Invalid or Contestable.” Some of the valid claims have been settled.
On August 27, 2020, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) through the Debt Management Unit (DMU) received vendor claims and arrears in the amount of US$124,014,000 and L$11,049,000.
These recorded claims as well as those outstanding in the KPMG audit report need to be further validated and negotiated in order to devise a realistic settlement plan. The GAC is also expected to provide recommendations on the validity of each individual claim, domestic debt and arrears which will enable the proper development of a comprehensive database (Commonwealth Meridian System) of domestic debt management system at the Debt Management Unit
In order to provide independent evidence to the government on the validity of claims and to finalize the validation of domestic debts and arrears, the MFDP decided another round of verification of the authenticity of claims submitted between 1980 and 2021 to obtain a recommendation on the validity of all claims within this period.
He explained that for the government to reach a conclusion on the validity of claims, domestic debts and arrears, the government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in collaboration with the African Development Bank has engaged the services of the GAC to verify the authenticity of claims submitted.
The government has put in place mechanisms discourage overcrowded payroll and to ensure that Civil servants are paid just wages by adopting the FreeBalance Civil Service Management (CSM) module in 2012 and in 2018, the National Wage-Bill Team
Based on the scope and given that the multicurrency functionalities in the CSM payroll module were not fully functional at the time; the government approved the development of an alternative system that could facilitate the implementation of this assignment.
The GAC recognizes the significance of the National Civil Service Payroll Audit, as personnel costs on average constitute about 58% of the national budget adding, “We also appreciate the enormity of resources committed to this exercise and the importance and urgency the World Bank and the Government of Liberia has attached to this project.”

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