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Friday, July 19, 2024

LIBERIANS DEMAND FULL DISCLOSURE OVER SENATE RETREAT EXPENSES

Date:

MONROVIA – In the midst of ongoing controversy regarding the reported US$700,000 expenditure on the Senate retreat in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, a group of Liberians led by Martin Kollie has formally demanded a full disclosure of the retreat’s financial details. Kollie, the Chairman Emeritus of Research and Policy Response for the JNB for President 2023 campaign, addressed a letter to Senate Pro-Temp Madam Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, urging transparency and accountability.

Titled “The People Demand Full Disclosure and Accountability,” Kollie’s letter responds to a press statement issued by Karnga-Lawrence on June 12, 2024, at 11:18 P.M. The statement, which consisted of 429 words, was criticized for providing an insufficient breakdown of the retreat’s expenses. Kollie pointed out that despite the detailed narrative, the statement lacked specific figures for various spending items, only vaguely mentioning a US$50,000 expenditure without proper itemization.

The letter lists seven budget categories that were cited in Karnga-Lawrence’s statement:

  1. Accommodation for all attendees
  2. Rental of conference halls
  3. Catering services
  4. Daily subsistence allowances (DSAs) for all support staff (excluding the Senators)
  5. Transportation
  6. Secretariat services
  7. Security arrangements

Kollie emphasized the need for full documentation and transparency, asserting that the funds used for the retreat belong to the public. He argued that true financial prudence involves openness, efficiency, and accountability. Kollie also challenged the claimed US$50,000 expenditure by highlighting discrepancies in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) financial records, which show a receipt of US$275,000 for the retreat, a figure far exceeding the one mentioned by Karnga-Lawrence.

In his letter, Kollie demanded a comprehensive financial report, including authentic receipts for all expenses related to the retreat. He underscored the urgency of this request, giving the Senate Pro-Temp a two-day deadline to comply. Failure to address this issue, he warned, could have significant political repercussions.

Kollie’s letter further criticizes the perceived disconnect between the Senators’ lavish retreat and the hardships faced by ordinary Liberians. He stressed that the essence of the “rescue” government is to serve the people, not to benefit a select few at their expense. He called for a return to the principles of transparency and accountability for which many had fought and suffered.

The call for financial transparency has garnered widespread support from various civil society organizations and ordinary citizens. Many Liberians have expressed their frustration over the apparent misuse of public funds, especially at a time when the country faces significant economic challenges. The demand for accountability is seen as a critical step in restoring public trust in the government.

Furthermore, political analysts have noted that this issue could have broader implications for the Senate’s credibility and the overall political landscape in Liberia. The way this controversy is handled might set a precedent for how similar issues are addressed in the future. It could also impact the upcoming elections, as voters may base their decisions on the perceived integrity and transparency of their leaders.

As the deadline approaches, the pressure on Senate Pro-Temp Karnga-Lawrence continues to mount. Her response, or lack thereof, will likely influence her political standing and the public’s perception of her commitment to transparency. The next few days are crucial for her to address these allegations and provide the detailed financial report demanded by the people.

In the meantime, Martin Kollie and his supporters remain vigilant, ready to hold the government accountable for any misuse of public funds. They have vowed to continue their advocacy for transparency and good governance, reinforcing the message that public officials are stewards of the people’s resources and must act with integrity and accountability.

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Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

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