Liberia: Sen. Varney Sherman Says Fellow Senator Lied on Him Over Diverting Money Given to Grand Cape Mount County
MONROVIA – Senator Varney Sherman (UP-Grand Cape Mount County) has denied the allegations made by his colleague, Senator Simon Taylor (ANC-Grand Cape Mount County), calling them false and misguided comments. He also referred to Senator Taylor as a “coincidental colleague.”
By Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Last week, Senator Taylor accused Senator Johnson and other members of the county legislative caucus of individualizing approximately US$2 million dollars that was paid to the county by mining company, Bea Mountain. Senator Taylor also accused Senator Sherman of doing nothing for the people of Bomi since his election over nine years ago.
In response, Senator Sherman dismissed Senator Taylor’s accusations and stated that they were based on an erroneous assumption. According to Senator Sherman, Senator Taylor falsely assumed that the contribution from Bea Mountain was only for the Gola Konneh District, his original district, since that is where the gold is extracted. Senator Sherman clarified that other districts and localities are entitled to a portion of the contribution as well.
Senator Sherman explained that after members of the County Caucus, including local county officials, secured the contribution from Bea Mountain for the fiscal years 2013 through 2020, the Grand Cape Mont Legislative caucus, the superintendent, and the two assistant superintendents agreed that Gola Konneh District should receive 25% upfront, and the balance of 75% should be divided among all the districts.
He further elaborated that under their plan, Gola Konneh District would receive an additional 14% due to its size and population density, while Porkpa District would receive 13%, Tewor and Garwulu District would receive 12%, and other smaller communities would receive smaller percentages. Senator Sherman emphasized that Gola Konneh District would receive a total of 39% of the entire contribution from Bea Mountain, which was more than what was provided for most directly affected communities in Nimba County, Grand Bassa County, and Bong County.
Regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Senator Sherman explained that it was agreed that installment payments would be made to an account at a bank within three days of the execution of the MOU. Bea Mountain selected the International Bank (Liberia), and the amount in that account was supposed to be US$775,000.00. Section 19d) of the Mineral Development Agreement provides that the contribution shall be managed by a 10-man committee, with five members from Bea Mountain and five from the government. Bea Mountain named its five persons in the MOU, with the understanding that the other five would be named later.
The MOU provides that all decisions of this committee shall be made by at least six persons, three from each side. Senator Sherman clarified that the Liberian government did not use the US$100,000.00 contribution made by Bea Mountain for the development project in Cape Mount. Therefore, Bea Mountain welcomed their proposition that they (Cape Mount Leadership) would submit the names of five persons to represent Cape Mount.