By: Melvin Caesar
Liberians woke up early Thursday morning to media report that the National Port Authority (NPA) is booked in an audit report for “Flaws and Irregularities in operation” with the image of the current Managing Director of the Port Authority, Madam Matilda Wokie Parker.
The image of the innovative NPA Boss, according to pundits, was placed on the article in an attempt to draw MD Parker into the mud in spite of the fact that the audit in question was conducted long before she took office in May, 2009. The audits in question were conducted in 2007- two years before Madam Parker assumed office. The placing of the NPA photo on the article was clearly intended to defame her as it is not an indication of fact.
Interestingly, the media report is a repetition of a story that was published in December 2013 and the NPA Management punctually responded and set the record straight as the falsehood of irregularities at the NPA was fast moving across the public sphere.
At the time, the Management of the National Port Authority (NPA) said it welcomed the conduct of a public hearing on NPA’s “Landed property Audit.” The management, however, said it disliked the manner certain media outlets are reporting sensational stories on the matter, insinuating the NPA management is culpable of wrong doing.”
In a statement, dated October 30, 2013, NPA further said “Let it be known that the GAC, in 2008, conducted an audit of the NPA, covering the period 2006-2008 in which the Commission indicated the need to conduct a second audit specifically on NPA’s lease and land properties. When such specialized audit was conducted, for the periods 2006-2007, 2007-2008, the NPA shows no record of being served a copy of the report and therefore is not aware of the content of the audit report in question.”
However, NPA said it believed “the decision by the Joint Legislative Public Account Committee to review audit reports by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) is part of continuing effort to reform our government. “Although the current management team, headed by Madam Matilda W. Parker, was not at the NPA during the period under review, NPA management will support the process as required by the laws of Liberia,” the statement added.
Similarly, NPA’s Public Relations Manager, Mr. Joash T. Hodges, clarified that “sensational headlines being drawn out by some local dailies” insinuating that the current management team, headed by Madam Matilda Wokie Parker is in ‘trouble for US$7million’ were farfetched and lack substance of professionalism.” Mr. Hodges made the remarks on October 31, 2013, when he appeared on Sky FM’s morning show “Just Another Day (JAD).
The NPA’s Public Relations Manager also pointed out that Madam Parker was appointed as NPA’s Managing Director in May of 2009. He also disclosed that the invitation sent to the current management of NPA by the Legislative Public Account Committee indicated that those who were at the helm of the NPA when the audit was conducted should be taken along to the hearing.
Recently, the joint Public Account Committee (PAC), in a dispatch, said it has embarked on an initiative to scrutinize audit reports submitted to National Legislature in order to discuss some of the technical issues, recommendations, and questions outlined in the report.
Some of those reports under scrutiny are the National Port Authority Land Property audit and Ministry of Gender and Development’s financial audit. The audit on the NPA’s Land Property is said to have unearthed financial irregularities and high devaluation of the port’s landed property, accounting for the loss of over one million United States Dollars (US$1m) to the Port Authority.
The irregularities and devaluations, according the audit report contravenes NPA’s internal regulations on lease and landed properties. The audit report also shows that NPA failed to collect over six million United States Dollars (US$6 Million) as revenue for its landed properties.
As a consequence of this, it has been reliably gathered that the Matilda Parker’s administration is exerting frantic efforts in order to rescue the situation which took place during the tenure of her predecessor.
According to inside sources at the NPA, the new management has managed to secure the all legal documents as regards the properties being leased and appropriate legal actions are being taking to relief the Port Authority of these loses.
Our source also said that the Management of the NPA under Madam Parker takes the audit report very seriously describing it as a “helpful tool to the reforms taking at the NPA currently” especially when it comes to transparency.
Accordingly, pundits are of the view that the Madam Matilda Parker is only a “rescuer and not a culprit” as it is being spewed out by blackmail stooges in order to serve the whims of their masters.