Grand Bassa Heralding Teamwork – PMC Craves Development Funds
Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – The signs of change in Grand Bassa County are not massive but can be significantly built upon in the coming years.
With a cordial relationship between the county administration headed by Superintendent Levi Demmah and the legislative caucus chaired by Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, there is some progress so far, proven by the recent procurement of two new buses for the community college (GBCC) and the government hospital respectively – all in Buchanan City.
Purchasing these buses from Africa Motors after a rigorous PPCC procedure cost the county around US$126,000.00, according to the Comptroller of the Project Management Committee – H. Uriah Bryant.
Like the construction of a new Buchanan City hall this year, it is clearly a good indication of progress but impacting rural Grand Bassa by implementing projects earmarked at the last county development sitting makes the progress holistic. To achieve this, development experts in the county say the Social and County Development Funds (SDF/CDF) must be released by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning without needless procrastination and bottlenecks.
In May 2014, eleven months into the 2013/2014 fiscal year, MFDP only remitted US$600,000 to the county, something that created development stalemate in the county.
College Gets Better Support
The Grand Bassa Community College has now benefited the most out-of-a-fruitful coordination from all stakeholders including the Project Management Committee (PMC). Purchasing laboratory equipment for the GBCC worth US$10,000, rehabilitating its Paynesberry Campus’ Bridge with US$10,000 and sealing a US$65,000 deal with the Monrovia based Starz College of Technology to upgrade the GBCC computer lab are all interventions the county has made for the college over the last couple of months.
GBCC President, Dr. Levi Zangai hailed the collaborative efforts of the caucus and the administration in helping the college move forward and said it appears to him that they are now speaking with ‘one voice’.
“They seem to have decided that the county college in particular and other county projects need to be done,” Dr. Zangai said. “With that kind of cooperation between the county legislative caucus and the Superintendent, they are trying to have projects that were approved at the county sitting implemented and it is a good sound for the county,” he added.
The PMC says all the funds expended was from the county’s escrow account – which keeps hundreds of thousands of United States dollars accumulated from the sale of scrap irons left behind in the county by former steel company LAMCO. So far the PMC says it has used and replenished over US$120,000 from that account and if MFDP releases the SDF/CDF it will continue to stir more development projects across the county.
Confidently, the PMC is riding on the success of the existing prolific relationship amongst county officials although it is impossible to rule out delays on the part of the MFDP especially as an administrative transition is in the making at the ministry. “We know that the next minister or the next in line will do just what is written (in the budget law),” The PMC comptroller said confidently.
Receiving US$600,000 out of US1.7 Million during the 2013/2014 fiscal year due to the much publicized budget shortfall pronounced at that time by former Minister Amara Konneh left several unfinished projects in Grand Bassa and the aftermath still looms. This time the new PMC refuse to jitter because of a problem its predecessor endured which led to their drastic failure though there were allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds. And PMC Comptroller Bryant is optimistic but he reckons that there also delays.
“Right now it is a more difficult one to get funding than ever before,” said Bryant during an interview with FrontPageAfrica. “Unlike before, county just applied after the county sitting and received their money,” he said, while adding that additional bottlenecks involving the PPCC and the ministry has prevented Grand Bassa from getting funds from the GBCC since it made requests.
The county lawmakers have all committed to working together to ensure that the county moves ahead and they will have to pull the strings by using their legislative connections to ensure the county funds are remitted by central government.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence has echoed the cordiality they (lawmakers) enjoying with Supt. Demmah. Demmah and on the other hand, Demmah – who is an experience financier, has obliged to utilize his expertise in upgrading the county’s financial activities – as a means of impacting development in the county.
The PMC, lining on both sides – caucus and administration – is applauding and savouring the coordination from the two sides. With Theophilus Bedell since elected as PMC Chair last year, the committee has safely played the ‘Bassa politics’ for over a year avoiding divisiveness which could obviously strangulate its work if they dare.
“Everything is on course – there’s a huge coordination between the county administration, the caucus and that of the PMC; that’s why you see these activities (are) being accomplished,” Said the PMC Comptroller”.