Liberia: Minister of Health Fumbles over US$1.8M in Budgetary Allocation
Monrovia – Not familiar with her Ministry’s component of the draft national budget, Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah fell short of defending a US$1.8 million, which is a portion of the US$58 million allotted for the Ministry of Health.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
In continuation of the ongoing budget preparation process, the Joint Ways, Means and Finance Committees of the Legislature, Monday, June 18, commenced public hearing on the expenditure component of the 2018/2019 draft budget with representatives of several ministries and agencies sent back for underperformances.
Representatives of ministries and public entities including the Ministry of Health and attachments (John F. Kennedy Memorial Center, Jackson F. Doe Referral Hospital, Phebe Hospital), Ministry of Agriculture and attachment (Forestry Development Authority), Ministry of Mines and Energy, National Elections Commission, Ministry of Youth and Sports, National Transit Authority, all attended the public hearing to defend why the joint committees should increase or maintain budgetary allotment in the draft budget for their entities.
Amongst the many entities, the Health Min., Dr. Jallah, fell short of defending her US$58 million. She couldn’t adequately justify why the Committees should increase the Ministry’s budgetary allotment as she struggled to make a case for increase in the workforce with the expected drawdown of donor support.
According to her, the Ministry of Health will shortly face the challenge of addressing a gap of US$11 million that had come from donors’ support as some of her major partners are drawing down support.
“I ask you committee members to relook at the draft budget and allotment for the Ministry of Health, which is transitioning from crisis to development,”Dr. Jallah said.
According to the Health Minister, 408 names have being discovered as ghost names. She disclosed that monies that should have gone to these alleged ‘ghosts’, will now be used for training and compensation of voluntary health workers.
Contradiction b/w MFDP, MOH
There was a contradiction in the presentation on the amount of US$1.8 million between the Minister of Health and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. In response to questions about what will the amount be used for, the Health Minister told the committee members that it would be used to purchase furniture, computers and others for use in health centers across the country.
Contrary to the Health Minister’s comments, the Ministry of Finance stated that the US$1.8 million was placed in the draft budget for mental health programs across the country and to compensate voluntary health workers, who have worked in the sectors for years and were demanding compensations with threats from them to carryout strike actions.
Also during the hearing, the management of John F. Kennedy Medical Center pleaded with the committees members to allot for the hospital US$5 million for operations and repairs and renovation of facility. Dr. Jerry Brown, who heads the JFK said the hospital lacks beds for patients and other essential medical supplies.
Dr. Browne promised to use his connections as to solicit support from friends and partners for the hospital.