Liberia: ‘Don’t Drag Us Into the Controversy’ – Health Minister Rejects Sen. Dillon’s US$7,500 Donation to County Health Team
MONROVIA – Health Minister Dr. Wilhemina Jallah has instructed the County Health Officer for Montserrado, Dr. Yatta Wapoe, to return the donation of US$7,500 given by Senator Abraham Darius Dillon to help in the covid-19 response in the county.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Senator Dillon made the donation Friday and disclosed that the money was part of the US$15,000 received by members of the Legislature for Legislative engagements.
Senator Dillon told reporters after the donation, “We remitted $7,500.00USD from the much talk-about $15K to aid their service to humanity. Remaining $7,500.00USD to be remitted to needy hospitals and other related institutions”.
He made the donation barely a few hours following the announcement of stringent measurements to help curb the third wave of the virus in the country.
However, the Minister of Health who also heads of the Incident Management System (IMS) has instructed the County Health Officer for Montserrado County to return the amount to the Senator, noting that its source is questionable.
In a communication to Dr. Wapoe, the Health Minister stated, “While the IMS appreciates Mr. Dillon’s kind gesture, the IMS, however, wishes to inform you that she CANNOT accept such a donation from the Senator or any other legislator at a time of ongoing polemic and public outcry concerning the source and exact of the funds.”
The communication further states: “We are aware of members of the National Legislature receiving USD15,000 (Fifteen Thousand United States Dollars) for purposes not clearly defined. Therefore, we firmly encourage the Senator to consider other priorities than dragging the IMS into the US$15,000 controversy.”
Dr. Jallah noted that the IMS receives donations from individuals and organizations but is cautious of the source of the resources, despite its challenges.
“We are aware of members of the National Legislature receiving USD15,000 (Fifteen Thousand United States Dollars) for purposes not clearly defined. Therefore, we firmly encourage the Senator to consider other priorities than dragging the IMS into the US$15,000 controversy.”– Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, Minister of Health
The Senate in a recent press statement explained that the US$15,000 received recently by each Senator and Representative is from an allotment under the Legislative Engagement Line of 2020/2021 National Budget and does not go into the pockets of the members of the Legislature. Instead, the money, according to the Senate, is geared towards the support to their initiatives in their various counties. With the leadership structure in their respective counties, the money is decided upon and invested as deemed necessary by the Senator and his county leadership.
“Over the years, Central Government has been overwhelmed by major developmental projects – focusing more on building of roads, agriculture and other infrastructure while at the same time boosting healthcare which has continued to do a tremendous job in curtailing the spread of the coronavirus – a pandemic that world has been battling for over a year,” the release continues.
The Senate at the same time stated “that no government, we know, has the financial and human capital to reach out and support the needs of every district and county in this country. While our people in these deprived areas continue to suffer untold suffering and hardship, they look up to their Senators and Representatives for the provision of schools, clinics, market, roads, and even direct personal support. Lawmakers have over the years, without hesitation, tried to meet these needs at their own expense.”
The Senate maintained that this fund could go towards helping in the fight against covid-19 in the county, construction of a bridge, road, library, hospital, school, payment of school fees, building of a modern public latrine or to help with some charitable undertakings, etc. This is how the counties get directly impacted with the little but needed developments.