Rep. Hanson Kiazolu Blames President George Weah, CDC Lawmakers For Poor Performances Of Public Officials
MONROVIA – Montserrado County District # 17 Representative Hanson Kiazolu has attributed the high level of hardship and extreme poverty on vast majority of Liberians to the alleged mismanagement of state resources and the shielding of dismally performing appointed public officials by the Executive branch, especially President George Manneh Weah, from carrying on their assigned tasks and responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner.
Lawmaker Kiazolu is a National Executive Committee (NEC) member of the former governing Unity Party (UP).
Representative Kiazolu observed that ill-performing public officials are most often shielded by not only the executive branch, but members of the legislative caucus of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
He maintained that in keeping with their oversight responsibility, efforts are being applied by some legislators, particularly those from opposition political parties to checkmate or bring to book poorly performing public officials assigned at various government ministries, agencies and corporations, but those efforts are always thwarted and meaningless towards the promotion of accountability and transparent in the public sector.
He made specific reference to the National Road Fund (NRF) money which was misallocated by the government and the shielding of some public officials from appearing before the Plenary of the House of Representatives in keeping with their oversight responsibility.
Representative Kiazolu added that CDC lawmakers at the National Legislature are allegedly engaged into the act in a bid to protect their political institution and safeguard their government from being disgraced in the public.
He maintained that such a move does not augur well for the country’s democracy, the proper management of state resources, as well as productivity, the promotion of effectiveness and efficiency in public service delivery.
He said some of these officials continue to flagrantly violate the Public Financial Management (PFM) and other laws in the country without any fear or remorse.
“Most of the Officers-In-Charge of government functionaries are stubborn and they don’t even want to respond to legislative citations. This is a country that is very old and most of those heading those public institutions are well educated. But yet still, they failed to abide by the basic laws that strengthen our systems and democracy”.
Weah is aware
Representative Kiazolu claimed that in some instances, some public officials allegedly used their influence and proximity to President Weah to snub or compromise their appearances before the Plenary of the House of Representatives.
The Plenary is the highest decision making body of the House.
As a result of this, he indicated that these officials continue to dismally perform at their respective institutions, leaving the ordinary citizens to suffer the most.
“If you invite people; sometimes they will not even come. Take for example Bill Twehway; whenever we invite him, he does not even respond and it is compromised behind closed doors due to his proximity to the President and the President also gives leverage to those compromises”.
“Most of these people are poorly performing because they feel that they are not accountable to the Legislature and they have the protection of the President. This is wrong; our country has been compromised internally. What sense does it make for foreigners to come here and obtain diplomatic passports and some officials are aware of it. The Executive is consistently shielding and preventing these people from appearing”.
Representative Kiazolu disclosed that “there are group of guys” currently at the National Legislature, “who only duty is to protect the CDC officials”.
“They are in the majority and so; the few of us in the opposition who are aligning will not get the vote. The childish word that ‘we need to protect our government’ normally go through’. They have assembled themselves to protect the wrong happenings in government. But they will get their results because 2023 is around”.
Liberians desperate for change
Speaking further, Representative Kiazolu observed that Liberians are desperate for a change in national leadership due to the manner and form in which things are ongoing in the country.
“Though I cannot speak to the conscious of the Liberian people, all I can say is that from all indications and from the faces of our people, there is indeed desperation for a change because there are too much of lapses and issues that are confronting the people”.
He maintained that the wellbeing of Liberians remains their security and as such, they will not compromise it to please a specific group of people come 2023.
Representative Kiazolu named the growing wave of secret and ritualistic killings of peaceful Liberians in cold-blood with no trace of the perpetrators and the hike in economic constraints, especially the increase in the prices of basic commodities, with nothing being done to address the situation, as some of the reasons for a change in leadership.
He claimed that salaries of civil servants continue to be harmonized in the wake of worsening economic constraints.
According to him, accountability and transparency in the public sector remain lacking.
He observed that foreign entrepreneurs are the ones mostly benefitting, while Liberians continue to feel the pinch in their own country.
“The prices of basic and local commodities are going up and most of those benefitting from this are foreigners. They have gotten millions from our citizens and government is not doing anything to alleviate some of those constraints”.
Representative Kiazolu maintained that citizens will vent out their anger during the 2023 elections if the government fails to fight against exploitation being meted against them by foreigners.
On road fund
Liberia passed the National Road Fund Act in 2016 and operationalized the National Road Fund in 2018 following the inception of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah. Among other things, the law sets aside the amount of US$0.25 on every gallon of gasoline purchased in the country to go towards the rehabilitation of roads in the country..
But an audit of the conducted on the Fund by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) for two fiscal years July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020, unearthed that millions of dollars of fuel levies paid by motorists for the maintenance and rehabilitation of roads in Liberia are either not being remitted to the road fund account as required by the act creating the National Road Fund or expended for the intended purpose.
The GAC observed in the report released to the National Legislature last week, that the Liberia Revenue Authority collected US$53,018,871.54 and deposited the money in the Consolidated Fund Account instead of the National Road Fund Account as required by the Road Fund Act. The Consolidated Fund Account is the Government general revenue account that is controlled by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). Of this amount, according to the report, the MFDP remitted US$28,152,231 to the National Road Fund thereby leaving a difference of US$24,866,637.54 which was not remitted.
Authorities of the Liberian government have justified that the amount of US$25m intended to rehabilitate roads across the country from the account of the NRF account was used to pay salaries to government employees.
Poses Jeopardy to funding transition
But Representative Kiazolu maintained that the money was used without “proper authorization” from the National Legislature.
“This is becoming a perennial thing that government officials will collect public revenue and expend it on themselves. This, of course is not productive and it contravenes the Public Financial Management (PFM) law. The usage of the road fund money and the Brownie Samukai issue has some similarities. It borders on the greater good of the people and the good of few persons. The Road Fund was collected but it was applied to payment of salaries-that was very, very wrong”.
According to him, the misapplication of the money by the government jeopardized what he called the “smooth process of funding transition”, nothing that; the move was “not the appropriate way to source money to pay salaries”.
He said authorities of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning should desist from trending similar path in a bid to promote accountability and transparency in the management of public funds.
“People involved into the management of public funds should know exactly what to do”.