Liberia: Minister of Public Works Refutes Claims of Using US$27 Million of Road Fund
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The expenditure of the road fund tax in the tune of US$27 million generated during Fiscal Year 2018/2029 by the Liberian Government remains unclear.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
According to members of the Joint committee, the officials of the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP), testified during a budget hearing that the road fund was at the disposal of the Ministry of Public Works.
However, addressing plenary on Tuesday, September 10, Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan denied the claims and stated that the Ministry’s entire expenditure for FY 2018/2029 did not exceed US$20 million.
According to him, out of the US$48 million allotted to the Ministry of Public Works for FY 2018/2019, only 40 percent (US$20 million) of the budget was realized.
He added that the road fund tax was not included in the Ministry’s budget for 2018/2019 as it is captured in the current draft budget.
“That is why we are very appalled that during the hearing here some of our brothers went out and started misinforming the public that Public Works could not account for US$27 million; that US$27 million was missing when in fact the entire year we did not receive more than US$27 million,” he averred.
Responding to Minister Nyenpan’s assertions, a member of the Joint Budgetary Committee, Rep. Francis S. Dopoh (River Gee County District #3) countered the Minister’s rebuttal was vague and stated the information was given by the officials of the MFDP the road fund was at the disposal of the Ministry of Public Works.
“Let me inform you that it was the Ministry of Finance that told us the road fund is at your disposal, and when something is at your disposal, it means you have the leverage to use it.”
The road fund saga is the latest controversies surrounding the expenditure of the 2018/2019 budget.
Some members of the joint committee have complained of some ministries and agencies exceeding beyond their approved allotted budget.
Recently Rep. Robert Womba of Bong County called for a complete audit of the Ministry of Youth & Sports for spending more than US$700,000 outside of the ministry’s approved budget for sports.
Additionally, the MFDP was brought under the spotlight by the committee for illegally appropriating more than US$10 million to its 2018/2029 budget.
The MFDP has said it got its backing from the Public Financial Management Law but the committee refutes the ministry’s claims; prompting officials to request more time to submit full report.
Meanwhile, Minister Nyenpan had been invited by plenary to give reasons behind the delay in rehabilitating the damaged bridges in Cruizerville that link several communities in rural Montserrado.
Plenary took the decision recently based on a communication from Rep. Lawrence Morris (Montserrado County District #1), requesting plenary to invite the Public Works Minister and his principal deputies to give reasons for the ministry’s failure to rehabilitate the damaged bridges.
Minister Nyenpan told plenary that the assessments have been done for the construction of the Cruizerville and Clay Ashland Bridges at determined indicative cost of US318, 000 and US$225,000 respectively.
He added the bidding process is on at the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), and when finalized, construction work will be resumed immediately after the budget is passed.