President Weah’s Gov’t Certainly Confirmed Using Donors’ Funds for Purposes not meant for it- Liberia
By Abdul Rahman Suagibu –
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS, Monrovia, Liberia – The Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Mr. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, has admitted to media reports on the Liberia Government unilaterally taking and using development partners’ funds, held at the Central Bank of Liberia, for purposes other than ones agreed on by both the donors and the Liberian Government.
The Liberian Government’s official spokesperson stating that, the funds would be replaced, however, failed to state when.
Despite being an air-conditioned room, Minister Nagbe, who was addressing MICAT’s regular press briefing on Thursday, May 9, sweated continuously as he tried to defend the government’s action.
Acknowledging the donors’ letter, which took the internet by storm in Liberia on Wednesday, May 8, Minister Nagbe stated, “We have just received a letter, an informal information note, signed by nine of our partners where they raised issues – historical issues – where the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, moved monies from accounts under the supervision of the government to our Consolidated Account to handle Government’s expenditures. We have been having age-old debate, na today oh the only thing the letter dem ain’t leak before but now this new government’s letters can leak, and I challenge any of the partner to say that they never raise[d] this issue before. It’s an accounting administrative issue.”
Justifying the action of the Liberian government, he narrated that every December the government pays double for the outgoing and incoming years; adding: “So our wage bill, which is very high we have to pay and once there is cash flow issue.”
“There have been no criminal activities as a result of that movement of funds from one group of accounts to another all documented properly,” he further justified.
According to him, since the donors have always raised the matter, there was nothing wrong with what the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government, under President George Weah’s leadership is doing.
“In this instance, when you move donor-funded project accounts to the Consolidated Account when your cash position improves because of improvement in revenue generation, you recapitalize the accounts,” he added stating how the donors have, however, expressed their dissatisfaction with the process, describing it as “not best practice”.
Precisely, the Information Minister’s admittance, he disclosed that the government has been engaging with the donor partners “in setting up the proper perimeter to deal with this comprehensively.”
Despite him admitting that the process of taking the donors’ monies from their accounts and putting them into the GOL Consolidated Account without their consent is not the right thing to do, he still justified that it is not the first time for this to happen.
Even though he mentioned their engagement with the donor community, the development partners’ joint letter says it otherwise that their accounts are continually being depleted unlawfully.
“We regret to bring to your attention our receipt of a copy of the attached letter, which was sent by members of your government to the Central Bank of Liberia designating funding to be removed temporarily from a variety of accounts associated with donor programs. While some partners have been aware of particular accounts from which funding had been removed for purposes other than those that were intended and agreed, and have been addressing the issue, the letter indicates a greater scale of irregular withdrawals than was previously and collectively known,” an excerpt of donors’ letter says.
According to Min. Nagbe, it doesn’t mean that someone has stolen money; adding: “What all this noise about?” He further stated that donor community didn’t raise the issue to mean that the government is corrupt, to him they were “administrative and technical issues” that had been raised.
He disclosed that as a result of the matter coming to the President’s attention, he has mandated the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia to put a ring around all donors-funded project accounts.
According to the Information Minister, the government has been engaging in “dig hole cover hole” with the donors’ monies.
In the letter to President Weah from the nine diplomats representing the European Union Delegation to Liberia, the governments of the United States of America, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, they told him that they are “apprehensive about the potential negative impact that such conduct may have on assistance level to Liberia overall.”
“In light of this finding, the donor partners are obligated to consider the integrity of the funding that our governments have allocated for Liberian assistance programs and ways to protect it going forward. The so-called “borrowing initiative” damages donor confidence in your government’s use of donor resources and in its ability to serve as an effective partner on development programs. We are apprehensive about the potential negative impact that such conduct may have on assistance levels to Liberia over all.”
Following the comments from the Information Minister, the Liberian government’s leading critic, inarguably, Mr. Henry Costa, who leaked the donors’ letter to social media, told the press “We are happy to be vindicated that our source was very credible as always. What the government did is criminal; there is no way around. They must restore the donors’ funds or face serious consequences. Liberia has definitely fallen. We have more on the matter to publish in the coming days. In fact, I am releasing one of the letters later today, the World Bank wrote Samuel Tweah to refund their money.”
Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon, an official of the opposition Liberty Party, too, stated: “I wish to state outright that it is simply shameful and in poor taste for one to defend and justify their act of wrongdoing on account of another person’s alleged act of wrongdoing. Wrong is wrong!
“In justifying the unauthorized withdrawal and gross misuse of international donors’ money that was kept at Central Bank of Liberia, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe says this is not the first time donors have written such blunt letter; that the UP/Ellen-led Government was similarly written for misapplying donor’s money. This is a poor taste defense of wrongdoing! Can Eugene Nagbe and or the entire CDC/Weah-led Government produce one of such letters similarly written to the UP/Ellen-led Government by the int’l donors?”
For New Africa Business News Abdul Rahman Suagibu Reports, Africa Correspondent.