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Friday, July 19, 2024

BILITY CLAIMS LIBERIA’S INFRASTRUCTURE INITIATIVE UNDER FIRE AMID PROCUREMENT ALLEGATIONS

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MONROVIA, LIBERIA – The Chairman of the Liberty Party, Musa H. Bility, has publicly criticized the government of Liberia, specifically targeting President Joseph Boakai’s administration, for the procurement of 285 earth-moving machines intended for infrastructure and agricultural development. Bility claims that the procurement process failed to adhere to legal protocols, including the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) guidelines, and that lawmakers were not informed about the acquisition details.

Bility, who represents Nimba County District #7, issued a statement urging his colleagues in the Legislature to take action against the Executive’s alleged breach of procedure. In his statement, dated Sunday, July 7, 2024, he stressed the importance of rejecting the procurement deal to uphold constitutional integrity and serve the nation’s best interests. He emphasized that while infrastructure improvements are crucial, the terms of the current deal do not align with Liberia’s constitutional responsibilities.

Adding support to Bility’s stance, civil society advocate and writer Grace RK Guar called on the 55th Legislature to prioritize Liberia’s future and reject the questionable loan proposal associated with the procurement.

However, Bility’s statement has sparked a heated debate on social media. Critics like Shelton Gonkerwon and Lawrence T. Hoff accused Bility and the Legislature of hypocrisy and political maneuvering, arguing that their opposition to the procurement undermines national development efforts.

The controversy intensified with the arrival of the first batch of the equipment at the National Port Authority (NPA) on Saturday, July 6, 2024. Minister of State Without Portfolio, Mamaka Bility, oversaw the transfer of 31 units to the Barclay Training Center (BTC) Barrack. She expressed joy and emphasized the critical need for these machines to improve road conditions and support agricultural activities in remote areas.

Despite her optimism, the procurement has been under scrutiny since its announcement during a Cabinet retreat on May 24, 2024. Allegations of conflict of interest involving government officials and companies tied to the procurement have surfaced, raising further questions about the transaction’s integrity.

The procurement process, shrouded in secrecy and controversy, has prompted calls for an independent investigation. Various civil society organizations have joined the chorus, demanding transparency and accountability from the government. They argue that without a clear understanding of how these machines were procured and financed, the public cannot fully trust the motives behind this significant investment. Critics contend that this lack of transparency undermines the government’s credibility and raises doubts about the true beneficiaries of the deal.

In response to the growing outcry, some lawmakers have signaled their intention to launch a formal inquiry into the procurement process. This investigation aims to uncover potential conflicts of interest, verify compliance with procurement laws, and ensure that the acquisition serves the public good. Some lawmakers expressed his support for such an inquiry, emphasizing the need to restore public confidence in government operations. He stated, “It is our duty to ensure that every action taken by the government is in line with our laws and serves the best interests of the people.”

Meanwhile, the public remains divided on the issue. Supporters of the procurement argue that the immediate need for infrastructure improvements justifies the government’s actions, even if the process was flawed. They believe that the equipment will significantly enhance road connectivity and agricultural productivity, leading to long-term economic benefits. However, opponents remain steadfast in their demand for transparency and proper legal procedures, warning that any shortcuts could set a dangerous precedent for future transactions. As the debate continues, the spotlight remains on the government’s next steps and its commitment to addressing the concerns raised by critics.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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