MONROVIA – Just days after the US Ambassador designate to Liberia issued a blistering attack on the George Weah Government for “lawlessness and Corruption” officials at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in Monrovia also announced that fire had engulfed a very significant section of the Ministry- The department where documents on International support to Liberia are stored.
The U.S. Ambassador-designate to Liberia, Mark Toner, had said that the George Weah government has recognition for corruption and lawlessness and that he will do all in his power to fight against these vices during his assignment here.
Addressing the U.S. Congressional Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Friday, October 20, Toner said progress made in Liberia since the end of the war in 2003 has been eroded by corruption and lawlessness in the current administration.
“The United States is the largest bilateral donor to Liberia, with more than US$5 billion in bilateral assistance since 2003. That assistance has paid concrete dividends in the economic, education, security, and public health sectors,” Toner told the committee. “But that progress has also been heavily eroded by growing lawlessness and corruption within the present administration.”
If confirmed, Toner plans to lead the US government’s efforts to hold “corrupt government officials accountable and keep Liberia on a path to self-reliance, so that ordinary Liberians see the benefits of private-sector growth and accountable government.”
These efforts, he said, are geared towards ensuring that Liberia remains the United States’ most steadfast partner in Africa.
Officials at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning are not speaking loud about the incidence but Concord Times has learnt that that serious documents relating to multilateral financial transactions were burnt in the fire disaster just days after the incoming Ambassador’s threatened he was coming to clean up the corrupt system.
People close to the fire incident say, couple of employees at the MFDP are answering to security inquires to establish the cause of the blaze.
No name has yet been released. MFDP officials are tightlipped on the current affairs.
The documents kept in that section is a testament to the support the country received from various organizations, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United States and European Union and other multinational entities.
These records were crucial for the proper functioning of the government, ensuring transparency and accountability in the utilization of funds.
Under the administration of President George Weah, Liberia had seen some level of international aid to bolster its development projects and improve the lives of its citizens, especially in the health sector.
Whispers of mismanagement and corruption had begun to circulate, even before the charred documents were cleaned up, casting a shadow of doubt over the CDC government’s integrity.
It is not really clear whether there is a correlation between the Ambassador’s threat to clean up corruption and hold public officials accountable and what may have caused the fire.
People who were on the scene said the fire started at about six in the morning. The fire raged on, reducing stacks of documents, files, and computers to ashes, according to people within the ministry.
Panic gripped the nation as news of the incident spread like wildfire.
Amidst the chaos, rumors began to surface, suggesting the fire had been deliberately set-an act of arson perpetuated by those seeking to avoid or delay the government’s auditing process.
People familiar with the issue whispered to the Concord Times, voicing their concerns and suspicions.
As the smoke cleared and the embers cooled, the government and the citizens of Liberia were left grappling with the aftermath of this devastating incident.
Former Finance Minister Amara Konneh, says news of the fire at the ministry reminded him of the days of President Samuel K, Doe, whose administration not account for donors’ funds and people would only later hear about fire in the same ministry. Amara Konneh told Spoon News that
The loss of vital records mean an arduous journey ahead—rebuilding the ministry’s infrastructure in the destroyed section, painstakingly reproducing lost documents, and restoring the trust that had been shattered.
Opponents of the government and pro-justice groups are demanding thorough investigation, not only to determine the cause of the fire but also to identify the individuals who may have been responsible for this alleged act of sabotage.
Meanwhile, multiple sources at the Liberia Fire service say the investigators at the agency are under pressure from officials at MFDP to release report into the incident and attribute the cause of fire to electrical shock.
The ruling party is in a dog fight in a second round balloting with the main opposition Unity Party.