LIBERIA: VP Reportedly Boycotts Opening of Legislature Session over Operational Funds; Finance Ministry Debunks Claims

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MONROVIA – Aides to Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor have attributed her noticeable absence from the opening of the third session of the Legislature on Monday to lack of operational funds for his office, but the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has debunked the allegation, saying it has never withheld funding from the Office of the Vice President. 

Supported with over US$3 Million Since 2018

The Finance Ministry said it has supported the office of the Vice President by disbursing over US$3 million of budgetary allotment since 2018.

FrontPageAfricawas informed that the Vice President is demanding allotment from the previous fiscal year which cannot be paid unless it is accounted for in the current budget.

According to the MFDP source, the Vice President took vehicles for her office staff last year but the slump in the economy which affected the budget and caused salary delays also made it difficult for vendors to be paid. 

“The Government is working to bundle all such domestic arrears to process payments as part of a package of domestic arrears,” the source said.

Not Funds for Two Years?

FrontPageAfrica gathered from sources close to the Vice President that her office has for the past two years not received allotment for operational funds, making it difficult for her to carry out the duties of the Office of the Vice President. 

Key, among her concerns, according to reports, is the lack of an official armored vehicle for the Office of the Vice President, fuel and lubricants for the vehicles making up her convoy.

The Vice President has reportedly written the President and the Senate seeking redress to these concerns, but her situation is yet to be attended to.

She reportedly mentioned the alleged non/delayed processing or release of budgetary appropriated checks to her office for a protracted period to effectively manage her wellbeing and run her office effectively.

The Vice President, according to reports, is also grappling with default or non-payment on the leased property of the present residence in which she now resides. 

Exposed to Danger?

But this paper was reliably informed that both police escort vehicles assigned with her convoy have been down for the past eight months, leaving the Vice President extremely exposed to danger.

“The deadly accident her convey was involved in was as a result of the lack of police escorts both for the front and back of her convoy. She can no longer put the lives of people and herself at risk,” an aide of the Vice President told FrontPageAfrica.

Facts on the VP Budget

The budget of her office for 2018/2019 was US$2,216,196. She only received US$2,047,197 out of this total amount. This means she did not receive US$168,999 of her budget last fiscal year. 

The amount for her office in 2018/2019 was cut to US$1,837,246 in 2019/2020 National Budget. This implies that US$378,950 was sliced from her budget this fiscal year and it accounts for 17 percent reduction or cut in her budget for FY2019/2020. 

NPP Troubled over Jewel’s Safety

The National Patriotic Party (NPP) Bong County chapter recently said it is troubled by audios in the public believed to be the voice of the chairman of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Mulbah Morlu, in which he mentioned that there is a plan to remove Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, to be replaced by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill.

In a leaked audio released this week by controversial talk-show Henry Costa, Morlu is heard saying that those plans could come from within, and the masterminds are Ministers McGill and Finance, Economic and Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah.

According to NPP’s Bong chapter chairman James Dorbor Sao the revelations in the recordings have serious implications to the peace and unity of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). “This is not the first time such damaging revelation is coming out about our standard-bearer,” he said. “These revelations are scaring and have the propensity of bringing division within the Coalition for Democratic Change.”

In February this last year, a similar revelation was made by a senior member of the coalition, current Bong County Superintendent Esther Walker, who is the Women’s Wing chair about McGill and Tweah planning the strangulation and removal of Vice President Howard-Taylor.

Sao said had the CDC not chosen VP Howard-Taylor it would have been difficult for the party to win the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.

According to him, the CDC had not won Bong – the third populated county in Liberia – until Howard-Taylor was selected as running mate to President Weah. “The vice president played an integral role for the CDC in helping the party win the 2017 presidential election,” he said.  “She said commands influence not just in Bong County but Liberia.”

The treatment, he said, against the vice president is not a reciprocal gesture for the overwhelming support received as a result of her selection as vice president on the ticket if the CDC. 

The Vice Chairman for Administration of NPP in Bong County, Paul Wheeler, said the revelations expressed by Morlu in the leaked audio is a clear expression of the ill-treatment the vice president is enduring in the government. “This is not what we envisioned as partisans of the NPP,” he said. 

In September 2019, the chairman of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), John Gray, lamented that Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor is not protected under the Weah administration in her capacity as Vice President.

Gray said the vice president’s security personnel have been restricted by the CDC government and she doesn’t have the proper cars in her convoy to represent her status. 

Gray made the comments in Gbarnga at the funeral service of two of persons killed in the vice President’s motorcade accident.

Gray attributed the accident to what he described as “faulty vehicles” given to the vice president by the government. 

“You can’t have a vice president and give her old cars, you limit her security personnel. What’s the intent?”

“The car the vice president rides is her personal car. You don’t treat someone who was very instrumental in making the coalition wins the presidency. Politically, the NPP is as significant as any party within the coalition.”

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