Liberia: Vice President’s Office Reportedly Being Deprived Disbursement of Budgetary Allotment
MONROVIA – Madam Jewel Howard Taylor is unarguably having an uneasy vice presidency. From all indications, President George Manneh Weah wouldn’t just allow her function per constitutional mandate. Perhaps, she is now having a better understanding of what former Vice President Joseph Boakai meant by “I’m a racing car parked in the garage”.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Not only is VP Taylor being denied access to the President or are her foreign trips being disapproved by him, her supervision over some governmental institutions is also on the verge of being stripped off. There was once a reported failed attempt to stop her from constitutionally presiding over the Senate.
In addition to that, the office of the Vice President is being financially starved, making it difficult for her to fully function, a source within the ruling establishment told FrontPage Africa.
Information gathered by this paper reveals that for the past several months, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has been adamant in releasing budgetary allotments to the Vice President’s office.
“Staff in the office of the Vice President have not been paid for past two months, in fact, they don’t approve any check from the VP’s office that is above US$2,000. That is the situation here and we don’t know why they’re doing this?” the source said.
However, the Comptroller General, Mr. Janga Kowo, when contacted told FrontPageAfrica that the information is false and misleading. According to him, the VP’s office is one of the most supported offices by virtue of the fact she’s the Vice President of the Republic.
He also noted the Ministry of Finance does not take the payment of salary to such a key office for granted.
Yet, a source within the Ministry of Finance, also informed this paper that though disbursements are being made to the office of the VP, amounts being disbursed are insignificant for her to carry out any meaningful activity or project.
“Even for the salary, the instruction here is that we do not pay all. We cut some checks, and leave some so, I’m very sure that not all her staff get their salary regularly. Even most of her travels are funded by herself, like the recent one,” the source said.
VP Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP) under the leadership of expelled Chairman, James Biney last weekend expelled her from the party – a move which many political pundits believe was influenced by President Weah. FrontPageAfrica has, however, not been able to verify that belief.
The NPP, a party founded by VP Taylor’s ex-husband, former President Charles Taylor, is a member of tripartite arrangement forming the Coalition for Democratic Change.
FrontPageAfrica has reliably learnt that President Weah has been pushing for the merger of the NPP with the Congress for Democratic Change – a party founded by Weah. The NPP is the larger constituent within the Coalition, Weah’s CDC being the largest. VP Taylor has been opposed to the proposal, thereby, pulling strains with the President.
“Weah wants total control. President Weah and the CDC people know that without the NPP they cannot be as strong as they are now, so their plan is that they want to put NPP under the CDC so that they will have control over the NPP. But the VP being the standard bearer of the NPP does not want to agree to this. That is why all of these are going on,” a member of Coalition’s Governing Council confided in this paper.
It can be recalled that last week, the President submitted a bill to the legislature seeking to wrestle the VP’s control of the Liberia National Lotteries after reports surfaced that the VP had left the country without informing the president. FrontPageAfrica later learned that the President’s Chief of Protocol kept the VP waiting for three hours before telling her that the President was busy. And even though she left a file explaining the purpose of her trip, she was asked to returned home after her departure but she declined, expressing unhappiness about the lack of respect shown her by the President.
In May this year, there were heightened speculations suggesting a growing division between the President and his vice president which was a key factor in the President’s decision to dispatch the First Lady Madam Clar Weah and not his Vice President to South Africa for the funeral of Winnie Mandela, along with Foreign Minister Gbezohngar Findley even though the vice president had expressed interest in making the trip.
In the same month, the VP was reportedly summoned by the President Pro Temp Albert Chie who attempted to suggest that she should not preside over the Senate.
A few senators, according to the Senate source cited Article 51 of the Constitution which states: “The Vice-President shall be President of the Senate and preside over its deliberations without the right to vote, except in the case of a tie vote. He shall attend meetings of the cabinet and other governmental meetings and shall perform such functions as the President shall delegate or deem appropriate; provided that no powers specifically vested in the President by the provisions of this Constitution shall be delegated to the Vice-President.”
The push against the Vice President presiding was reportedly backed by Senator Varney Sherman (UP, Grand Cape Mount) and the Pro Temp Chie.
“At the end of the day, they realized that constitutionally the woman had the mandate. But this was a serious issue that triggered intense argument amongst senators,” the source added.