Liberia: Ministry of Health Returns US$7,500 Cash Donation to Sen. Darius Dillon

Mr. Abel Plakie Receives the Money on Behalf of Senator Dillon

MONROVIA – Liberia Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah has accused members of the Legislature of receiving money from national coffers for purposes that are “not clearly defined” and that her ministry will not accept any cash donation from any of them.

She made the claim in a communication sent to the office of Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillon when she returned cash of US$7,500.00 donated to the Montserrado County Health Team by Senator Dillon as a contribution against the fight of the Covid-19 virus.

“We are aware of members of the National Legislature receiving US$ 15,000 (fifteen Thousand United States Dollars) for purposes not clearly defined. We therefore firmly encourage the Senator to consider other priorities rather than dragging the Incident Management System (IMS) into the fifteen thousand United States dollars Controversy.”

In the letter, the Minister of Health said, the decision to return the money to the Senator was reached on June 19, 2021, during a meeting called by the IMS. According to her, though they appreciate Senator Dillon’s kind gesture, they cannot accept the donation from the Senator or any other legislator at a time of ongoing polemic and public outcry concerning the source and exact purpose of the funds.

“The IMS notes that she receives donations from private individuals and organizations, however, in this case, the IMS is cautions of sources of the resources amid its challenges. Kindly, therefore, return to the Senator said donation until further clarification. Notwithstanding, the IMS looks forward to the supplementary budgetary allocation from the legislature to enhance her fight against the deadly disease.”

Senate’s response

The Liberian Senate in response to public criticism about the US$15K provided justification for the allotment of the Money to each lawmaker for legislative project and engagement while at the same time hitting back at the political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings, who has termed the allotment as political corruption.

The Senate in a 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.

The Senate noted that Lawmakers come from every district in every county in this country. Hence, both the members of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate represent every single citizen in every part of Liberia.

“Over the years, Central Government has been overwhelmed by major developmental projects – focusing more on the 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, markets, 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, the 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.