Liberia: Edwin Snowe Raises Doubts over Legislators Allotting Additional Funds to Provide Stimulus amid Resurgence of Covid-19

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MONROVIA – Bomi County Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe has disclosed that the failure of authorities of the Government of Liberia (GOL), who handled the US$30M for the provision of food to vulnerable households to adequately account funds provided by government and partners, makes it difficult for members of the 54th National Legislature to commit to the allocation of additional money despite the emergence of the new outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country.

As of July 6, 2021, Liberia had 2343 active confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL)

It can be recalled that the Government of Liberia (GOL) allocated the amount of US$25M for the provision of food to vulnerable households in the country, with the remaining US$5M coming from the World Bank during the first outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

But the entire exercise which was done along with the World Food Programme (WFP) office in Liberia was marred by claims and counter-claims over the proper manner and form in which the exercise was handled.

A committee, headed by the current Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Professor Wilson Tarpeh was established by the government to spearhead the exercise along with the WFP.

In a report to the Liberian Senate in late June of this year, Professor Tarpeh claimed that about 2.3m vulnerable Liberians benefitted from the distribution. He was the Minister of Commerce at the time the program was launched.

But the Senators rejected Professor Tarpeh’s claim, and described the report as a “world trade center” document.

In Liberia, the “world trade center,” located on Gurley Street in Monrovia is normally considered as a place where people go to falsify documents, including government receipts and other school and university documents, among others.

A proposal of US$2M has been made by the Executive branch, through President George Manneh Weah in the current Fiscal National Budget that is before the 54th National Legislature for the enforcement of health and security regulations and protocols in confronting the new COVID-19 variant.

Senator Snowe, who is on record for accusing people of stealing and selling the stimulus package, including beans, rice and oil intended for vulnerable Liberian citizens, disclosed that government cannot pronounce the lockdown of the country or certain places and lawmakers cannot endorse any proposal for the allocation of additional funding for provision of stimulus package to citizens despite the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases due to what transpired in the past.

He made these comments when he appeared as guest on the OK Morning Rush Show on OK FM99.5 on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

He emphasized that though the situation is embarrassing, actions will be taken by the Senate to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.

“The Senate had been discussing this issue (Covid-19 stimulus package). As you know, the World Food Programme (WFP) people said they were not subject to audit; there has been lot of ruff and roll but I can tell you squarely that people stole the people’s food. It’s embarrassing and that’s why right now it’s even giving us hard time to do another stimulus program; we can’t do lockdown because of the past experiences we had for the first time. But actions will be taken”.

Consultations ongoing

Speaking further, Senator Snowe disclosed that despite the situation, consultations are ongoing at the national level to further amplify the country’s effort in combating against the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He stressed that different scenarios, strategies and analysis are being implored in not only Liberia, but other parts of the African continue to help defeat the spread of the virus.

He said citizens and others should continue to observe and abide by approaches and measures being instituted by the Liberian government, noting that, citizens should also be sensitized consistently about the preventive measures.

“In time like this is when national leadership is required and national leadership comes with lot of consultations. I’m one of those who believe strongly and I still believe that selective or temporary lockdown would do a lot. But again, national leadership also believes that there should be additional consultations. I am aware that there are lots of consultations going on”.

Senator Snowe emphasized that public officials especially authorities of the various city corporations, should not only supinely and wait for warning from the Liberian Chief Executive before carrying on their assigned tasks and responsibilities.

According to him, unhealthy environment will serve as a recipe for the outbreak of more illnesses and diseases among Liberians, and as such, citizens too have a greater responsibility to ensure that their environment and communities are clean at all times.

“We cannot put all of our responsibilities on the lap of the government. We need to keep our communities clean”.

Giving back

Recently, Senator Snowe cut short his tour along with other colleagues from the ECOWAS parliament to access the political and security situations in few countries in the West African region and return to Liberia to help combat against the virus, particularly in Bomi County.

His decision came following reports that there were confirmed cases of COVID-19 in his county.

Senator Snowe contributed his entire salary and benefits, which include over US$6,000 and L$200,000 for the month of June to the fight against COVID-19 in Bomi County.

Additionally, a consignment of 25 bags of rice was also given to the health workers in the county.

Senator Snowe further distributed temperature and pressure checkers to health centers in the county.

According to him, the move was intended to beef up the strength and honest efforts of the county’s health team towards the combat against the pandemic in the county.

Senator Snowe, however, used the occasion to call on Liberians, especially sons and daughters hailing from Bomi to rally around government to combat against the Coronavirus pandemic.

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