Rep. Tarponweh Rallies Colleagues To Make  The National Road Fund Office An Autonomous Agency

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Capitol Hill – Representative Tibelrosa Summon Tarponweh of Margibi Electoral District 1 has forwarded before the Plenary of the House of Representatives a bill seeking to repeal the current National Road Fund Office Act of 2016 and enact into law an Act to establish the National Road Fund Administration of Liberia. 

In his communication on Wednesday, Representative Tarpokweh said the bill, when enacted, will make the proposed “National Road Fund Administration” an autonomous agency under the general supervision and direction of its Board of Directors appointed by the President of Liberia. 

The Margibi County District #1 Lawmaker asserted that road fund management and practices in the African region are operated by autonomous institutions.

According to him, making the current National Road Fund Office an autonomous agency will assist in protecting revenues collected from petroleum importers.

“Ring-fencing or adequately protecting revenues generated from fuel levies, direct deposits and remittances into the National Road Fund Administration account will be required when enacted,” he stated.

“Such protection will assure all Liberians adequate financial management and avoid the excessive risk of losing focus on the primary objective of the proposed National Road Fund Administration. This is justified in the fact that it increases a substantial amount of independence of the financial and program management system.” 

Following the reading and deliberation of the bill, Representative Sampson Wiah of Sinoe County proffered a motion to send the bill to the committees on Public Works, Judiciary and Ways, Means & Finance.

Recently, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning came under damning criticism for diverting nearly US$25 million from the National Road Fund account for the payment of civil servant salary.

The revelation of the unremitted US$25 million an audit of the fund by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) for two fiscal years, July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020, which observed that millions of dollars of petroleum levies paid by motorists for the maintenance and rehabilitation of roads in Liberia were not being used for the intended purpose.

The Ministry’s action violates Chapter 2.2 of the Act establishing the National Road Fund, whose source of revenue is levied collected from motorists to construct and maintain roads across the county. The Act states that “All funds of the NRF shall be held in the Fund Account from which disbursement shall be made solely to finance the approved annual road maintenance expenditure program and directly related costs as hereby required in this Act.”

However, appearing before the Legislature, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah justified the Ministry’s action, saying the government acted lawfully as the road fund is the government’s money and when it faces challenges, it can decide on how to solve them.” 

Minister Tweah cited extreme economic conditions as a significant factor that forced the government to use the US$25 million, which was earmarked for the NRF for a different government function.

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