An opinion by Cde. Jusu Kamara
Liberia has been reduced to a den of thievery and mass looting. The current leadership which is a basinet of deplorable career mafias and social delinquents is not only bereft of ethics that guide public administration but also very awful to accountability. This is why they have run the country for the last five years like overlords presiding over their fiefdom.
They have transformed the national treasury into a personal purse and they deplete it slavishly at will. They carry on these vicious acts with the arrogance that no one dares ask them for any accountability or transparency. This is how the country is, under the con artist President in Weah and his CDC gang of scoundrels and burglars. This is why they live in the apostasy of delight and pageantry while the people are made to rot in despair and despicable destitution. This is Weah Liberia for you.
The regime is a theater of the absurd that creates a film of tragic comedy for the Liberian people. It is a scandal and that’s why every day Weah Liberia brings its scandal. If it’s not futile $US 25million for mop-up exercise with no accountability, it’s the auctioning of our diplomatic passports to criminal foreign business merchants and terrorists; if it’s not the broad day looting at Agriculture Ministry, it is the insolent plunder of US 24.8million National Road Fund. The thespian art of corruption flows in sequence by the day under George Weah- the Zero President.
In 2016, the 53rd National Legislature passed the National Road Fund Act with the clear license of raising money to finance road projects across the country. And we are very convinced that this law was made against the backdrop of the country not only relying on donors’ support to carry on road projects, and that since the national revenues collected by the government could not procure significant funding for the government to maintain built roads and construct new one where necessary, this law was formulated to have a system wherein the Liberian people can contribute to building and maintaining road networks across the country.
This is why a surcharge of 30 cent was put on petroleum products and lubricants so that the government can raise money for road projects. And the law is very clear with regards to the usage and objectives of every cent raised in the name of the National Road Fund in sections 2.2 and 2.3 of the NRF of 2016 and read as follows:
USE OF THE FUND
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.
The method for determining the use of funds and their disbursement on a year-by-year basis shall be set in regulations.
OBJECTIVES OF THE ROAD FUND
To ensure that road assets are sustained and that sufficient funds for both periodic and routine maintenance are allocated for this purpose.
To ensure that each of the categories of national, sub-national, and feeder roads have a sufficient share of the total budget such that these roads can operate as an integrated network.
To defray the costs of loans approved by the Government to extend the length of maintainable roads.
To ensure that the needs of the road user and those impacted by roads are considered in terms of safety, security, and environment.
Every line of sentences written above is lucent and self-explanatory for anyone to understand. Money raised can only be expended for road purposes and anything other than that is not only a betrayal and undermining of that law and the intent of the fund, but also criminal. So, the General Auditing Commission(GAC) has come up with a comprehensive audit report of the National Road Fund raised between the time interval 2018 to 2020 has vividly indicted Mr. Tweah of not remitting some 24.8milllion road fund generated between 2018 and 2020 to the escrow account for f the National Road Fund.
And funnily yet very interestingly, Tweah has admitted to this indictment and has come up to justify that the money was used for salary payment. That government was challenged in 2019 and needed to pay civil servants so they bashed into the road fund account to settle their obligations with civil servants. And that it was done with the approval of the National Legislature. No rational person with gritty understanding can buy such outrageous falsehood of justification.
One argument one could raise if wanting to even agree with such a blatant lie is, why has it taken Tweah so long to show any evidence of having the approval to misapply money? Again, the chap feels the Liberian people are stupid so he can throw any nonsense out there for justification and it will be accepted. No, he has got it wrong this time. The people have understood how money raised on their sweat, blood, and tears has been siphoned by Tweah and you can see that through the action on the issue.
However, let’s look at some of the financial government transactions in 2019 to really establish whether the government was challenged in truism as the loud-mouth Tweah has claimed.
In 2019, the government lousily boasted of its revenue surplus leaving from $US 22 million in 2018 to $US 42 million in 2019. That’s $US 20 million in increment. You can read page 50 of the Central Bank Annual Report of 2019 and see what we are saying.
In 2019, the government borrowed $US 53 million from local commercial banks and $US 65 million from foreign financial institutions; this was reported by the Central Bank in its 2019 Annual Report, page 53.
In the 2018/2019 budget year, donor partners gave to nongovernmental and governmental institutions to use for programs $US 584 million. Read page 9 of the Citizens Guide Budget of 2018/2019 drafted by the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning.
In the same year 2019, the Liberian government printed $LD 4billion in addition to the $LD 16billion printed and brought into the country between 2016 and 2018. You can read page 2 of the 2019 Center Bank of Liberia Annual Report and see what we are saying here.
In addition, the government, since its inception in 2018 has always generated revenues at the threshold of $US 500 million for the national budget. Something we all know in this country.
And during the 2018/2019 fiscal year, the Liberian government through the Ministry of Finance, in the national budget paid $US 35 million to the Central Bank of Liberia, in a situation where the government was not out of money.
Owing to all these undisputed financial transactions of the government during the year under discussion(2019) how did the government get challenged to the extent of illegally burglarizing into the National Road Fund account to pay salaries as outlandishly thrown by Min. Tweah?
The conclusion that one can draw here is that the CDC government headed by con football legend turned president, George Weah is that the Public Financial Management law of 2009 which calls for accountability of every cent spent in public service had been flippantly violated by Mr. Tweah, Finance Minister of Liberia. And this is one of the main reasons the international community has persistently lambasted the government for financial Indiscipline thus discrediting the entire government to the world. A situation breeds serious tragedy for the masses of the Liberian people back home.
In an attempt to bury this case into obscurity, the government is currently putting together a ploy with some members of the Legislature to conspire against the Liberia people and the state- to come up with a back-dated resolution indicating the approval of the legislature for the usage of $US 24.8million by Mr. Tweah for salary payments, whatever. There is an offer of $US 16,000 for each member of the House of Representatives and $US 25,000 for each member of the Liberian Senate, at the current. This is the level to which the Liberian Legislature has been reduced to; thievery, conspiracy, broad day loot and betrayal of the hope and aspiration of the misery-torn Liberia masses, destruction of peoples’ destiny, if you like.
nearly a week ago, Frontpage Africa, a supposed to be a credible newspaper in Liberia reported that United States Embassy near Monrovia and other international partners in-country consented with the finance minister and some legislators for $US 7million to be used by the finance minister to settle salary commitment of the government to civil servants. Bearly in less than 24hrs, the US Embassy responded of knowing anything as such and distanced itself from such news as published by Frontpage Africa. This is the extent to which the government is very desperate to airbrush this case.
If you were to take a tour just across Monrovia and its environs, the number of deplorable roads you will encounter is more than the good ones, least, before talking about the countryside; from Gbarnga, Bong County to Lofa, from Ganta to the entire southeast, from Buchanan, Grand Bassa to the southeast, and from Po River, Bomi County to Cape Mount, all the roads are in destitution and tatters.
For the southeast, it is a colossal death trap. One would have to endure a whole of before reaching there. Yet, it’s from the hard labor of the suffering people of those counties that the National Road Fund is generated to ease their challenges. And sadly, the government would go about pillaging such money leaving the people to struggle with the devastating roads, a situation that makes their farm produce spoil in their hands and not come to Monrovia to sell.
Another sad narrative of this National Road Fund is that it was recently reported by GAC that the government collects 50 cents on each petroleum product and lubricant yet only 25 cents is accounted for. The question the government is yet to answer here is where the other 25 cents go? Another criminal maneuver. Worst of all these terrible revelations is that there is no system put in place for internal audit schemes that demand a quarterly report of money raised for the National Road Fund.
Since the takeover of the Weah-CDC black fascism, there is not a single financial report on any of the roads built so far. There is not even a competitive bidding process by the Public Procurement and Concession Commission that awards contracts to competent and qualified Construction Firms because people in the government have construction firms and contracts are given to them on a crate-blanched basis. And they do substandard work. That’s the majority of the roads built between 2018 and now are in ruin. A situation of conflict of interest, which is vehemently opposed by the Code of Conduct. Again, this is how the country has been reduced to a casino under Weah.
The Liberian people are doomed. The country has gone down the dream. Corruption is now institutionalized and publicly celebrated. Because of this misconduct, public schools are in shacks, education is bastardized, and the health sector is in turmoil. The people’s hope is a chimera.
But amidst all, we can assure Min. Tweah one thing; that this National Road Fund saga will not be like the $US 25 million ‘Mop-up Exercise’ situation where he didn’t account for how the fund was used. For this Road Fund, we are going to heat Mr. Tweah for accountability. We shall create situations that will make him very uncomfortable until the Liberian people’s money is restituted!
This we can assure Tweah!
About the author.
Cde. Jusu Kamara is a left-wing student activist in Liberia. He studies political science at the University of Liberia and is the current Secretary-General of the Vanguard Student Unification Party- SUP. He can be reached via: Contact: +231777654997/ Email: email@example.com