Liberia: Text Message Links Sen. Peter Coleman to Plan to Defraud Govt US$200k, But His Office Denies Link; Says His Phone Was Stolen
Monrovia – The office of Senator Peter Coleman(CDC, Grand Kru County) says a text message said to be from his phone, now making the rounds on social media, is the mastermind of the Senator’s detractors aimed at framing him.
Senator Coleman is the Senate Committee Chairman on Health, a committee with oversight responsibilities over health matters of the Country.
In the alleged the text message believed to have been sent Senator Coleman’s phone to a person identified as Jlayteh Sayon, the Comptroller at the Ministry of Health, the Senator is said to be guiding the comptroller on how they could share US$ 200,000.00.
The Message purportedly instructs the comptroller on how to share two hundred thousand United States Dollars from a US$1 million dollars proposal from the IMF towards goods and services for the health sector.
FrontPageAfrica has not been able to reach Mr. Sayon for comments.
Phone ‘Fell into Wrong Hands, Aide Says
“Good Morning Jlayteh there have been some changes due to pressure from the IMF. As a result of this only 2M for hazard pay and an additional 1M for additional goods and services. So need to do some changes to our previous arrangement. So US$ 200k from the US$1M to be set aside for us to share. Please inform your boss. So another letter requesting the 200k needs to be sent to the MFDP (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning).”– The Message Purportedly Sent by Senator Peter Coleman to Mr. Jylateh Sayon, Comptroller, MOH
Mr. Jenkins Pelenah Chief of Office Staff to Senator Peter Coleman could not confirm or deny that the text message mentioned on social media was sent from his boss’s phone but however said, his boss phone went missing on the 7th of October.
Said Mr. Pelenah: “I can confirm that on the night of the 7th of October 2020, one of his phones was stolen. He has, since the 8th of October early morning hours, informed many of his colleagues about the same. They were also alerted that someone was messaging around with his contacts by sending messages and the same was appearing on social media,” Mr. Pelenah averred. “It simply fell into the wrong hands or detractors and adversaries.”
The Message reads: “Good Morning Jlayteh there have been some changes due to pressure from the IMF. As a result of this only 2M for hazard pay and additional 1M for additional goods and services. So need to do some changes to our previous arrangement. So US$ 200k from the US$1M to be set aside for us to share. Please inform your boss. So another letter requesting the 200k need to be sent to the MFDP (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning).”
FrontPageAfrica has been unable to contact the Comptroller at the Ministry of Health to confirm from him whether he has received a message of such from the Grand Kru Senator.
“I can confirm that on the night of the 7th of October 2020, one of his phones was stolen. He has, since the 8th of October early morning hours, informed many of his colleagues about the same. They were also alerted that someone was messaging around with his contacts by sending messages and the same was appearing on social media,” Mr. Pelenah averred. “It simply fell into the wrong hands or detractors and adversaries.”
Health workers on go-slow
The controversy comes in the midst of recent threats and strikes action by health workers across the country.
In September, the National Health Workers Union of Liberia (NAHWUL) demanded the certification of their Union, the provision of a clear salary base for each grade that corresponds with their qualifications, reclassification of health workers who have upgraded their professional status over the period of time, and the suspension of the policy document for Redeployment and Transfer until the Union can have an input.
The health workers have also demanded the provision of a blueprint on how the gaps created as a result of the pensioning of almost 1,000 health workers by the government will be filled, victims and families of Covid-19 should benefit from the US$500,000 announced in a July meeting held with authorities of the Ministries of Health, States for Presidential Affairs and Finance and Development Planning, salaries increment, and the payment of hazard benefits to all healthcare workers.
Diverting money for stimulus package
At a recent budget hearing, Senator Coleman suggested a halt in the ongoing stimulus package food distribution in a bid to save money and redirect funds to the operational budget of the Ministry of Health.
The Grand Kru CDC lawmaker recommendation was based on the discovery that the budget of the Ministry of Health was reduced to fund the stimulus package. “Right now, no one is dying of starvation since the food distribution is still ongoing, we need to stop it and take the balance money and restore it back to the Health Ministry budget.
The Senator said he is concerned and aware as a Lawmaker that a resolution was passed but acknowledged that no one mandated the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to go into the Ministry of Health’s budget to reduce allocations to health institutions.
The CDC’s Grand Kru County Senator described as double punishment to the population of the country the acts by the Ministry of Finance Ministry to reduce the budget allotted to the Ministry of health and health institutions in the country.
The cost attached to the Stimulus was USD$25 million from government coffers and US$10 from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if the government meets the needed requirement laid down by the IMF.
Since the approval, citizens have been anxious to know when the distribution will begin. More importantly, who will lead the process?
The highlight of the President’s plan features a US$25 million to support food distribution to households in designated-affected counties for a period of 60 days, electricity and water support during the Stay-at-Home Program; Market Women and Small Informal Petty Traders Bank Loan Program, a government domestic debt program and a President’s Tax Policy and Administration Stimulus Program.