Liberia: LISGIS Claims To Have Transferred US$1 Million to Conduct Population Census But Source At UNFPA Says Only US$700k Was Received

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MONROVIA – The Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) has told the Liberian Senate that it has passed on the US$1 million received from the government for the conduct of the nationwide census to the UNFPA on the instruction of the government. But sources within the UNFPA say only US$700,000.00 was received.

This means US$300,000 remains unaccounted for.

The source at UNFPA, LIGIS implementing partner, says the entity will formally respond to the assertion that they received US$1 million for the census.

“The UNFPA has received only US$ 700K from Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS). We will be responding to that claim as far as we know only US$ 700k has been sent to the UNFPA,” the UNFPA source said.

At his Senate appearance, Mr. Francis Wreh head of LISGIS said the government promised his entity US$3 million of which US$1 million was given in partial fulfilment of the agreement between the government and the UNFPA for the conduct of the delayed population census.

The contract between the LISGIS and the UNFPA was for UNFPA and other partners to compliment the government’s funding of the census and at the same time manage the funds as per the UNFPA’s own financial policy.

Raising concern about the contract with the UNFPA, Senator James Biney (NPP, Maryland) said the contract stipulates whatever money is transferred to the UNFPA for the census will not be subject to the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit, and that the contract did not go the Public Procurement Concession regulations. It also did not meet legislative approval.

But Mr. Wreh told the Senate that the contract was signed on the instruction of Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah.

Professor Francis Wreh had appeared at the Senate to give reasons why Senators should sign another resolution to postpone the conduct of the population census.

Article 39 States: “The Legislature shall cause a census of the Republic to be undertaken every ten years.”

A Census was last conducted in 2008, in keeping with Article 39, Census should have been conducted in 2018, but was postponed by a joint resolution of the Legislature due to economic constraints.

Recently, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate   mandated its committee on Autonomous Commissions and Agencies to advice the August body on a request from the President of Liberia, George M. Weah seeking approval for the third postponement of the conduct of National Census which was slated for March 2021.

The communication from President Weah to the Senate which was read on Thursday, June 3, 2021 indicates: “During the 2020, I requested a joint resolution of the Legislature, mandating the Executive Branch of the government to conduct a National Census by further extending the 2018 Census from December 8, 2019 to March 8, 2021, which was granted. However, on March 3, 2021, I received a communication from the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-information Services (LISGIS), the institution clothed with the constitutional mandate to conduct the National population and Housing Census of the Republic of Liberia informing me that there exist a need for further extension to conduct the census at a specified date preferably March 20, 2022”.

The President further noted that LISGIS has informed him that staff that were trained from February to March 2020 to conduct the geographic planning (GP) which is a precursor to census enumeration, were not deployed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 that also halted so many things worldwide, and affected the census activities, including ordering of logistics internationally, while supply chains, transportation, and some factories disrupted.

President Weah: “LISGIS believes that the preferable date of March 20, 2022 will afford them ample time to conduct a nationwide Geographic Planning (GP) for a period of at most 10 months. The GP will delineate boundaries of newly created cities, clans, districts and or boroughs etc., across the Country and update the Country’s administrative database.

The President stressed that based on LIGIS request, the GP will provide information of the number of enumeration areas across the Country that will serve as the basis upon which enumerators will be recruited for the main census enumeration,

“The preferable date will also provide sufficient time for the conduct of a pilot census and other activities and to inform on the need for improvement or recalibration of the methods and tools to be used for the main census enumeration,” President Weah said.

He also acknowledged that government attaches great importance to the conduct of the Census, noting that data collected will inform the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evolution of the government’s developmental agenda.

“In consideration of the aforementioned, I kindly request a joint resolution of the Legislature, mandating the Executive Branch of government to conduct a National Census by further extending the 2018 Census from March 8, 2021 to March 20, 2022.” President Weah concluded

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