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Saturday, July 20, 2024

SENATOR AMARA KONNEH BOWS TO PUBLIC PRESSURE: REFUNDS EXCESS DAILY SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE

Date:

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – In response to mounting public pressure and a critical open letter from activist Martin K. N. Kollie, Senator Amara Konneh of Gbarpolu County has announced that he will refund a substantial portion of his Domestic Daily Subsistence Allowance (DDSA) received during a recent controversial Senate retreat.

Senator Konneh stated, “I have gone ahead quietly to do so. My Assistant is on his way to the CBL to refund LRD 318,000 out of the LRD 328,000 they gave us for Domestic Daily Subsistence Allowance (DDSA) into the GOL Revenue Account. I have many $1,704 I have earned over the years.” This move comes after intense scrutiny and public outcry over the funds spent on the Senate retreat in Buchanan.

The controversy began when Martin K. N. Kollie, a prominent Liberian activist, wrote an open letter highlighting significant discrepancies between the amount allocated to senators for their DDSA and the legal stipulations. Kollie pointed out that the Government of Liberia’s Revised Travel Ordinance of 2016/2017 clearly states the allowable DDSA for a senator is LRD 10,000 per day, which equates to US$52.08.

In his letter, Kollie detailed how Senator Konneh and his colleagues received L$328,000 each, equivalent to US$1,708, for what was initially reported as a two-day retreat. This sum translates to an illegal increase of 93.91% over the stipulated rate. Even if the retreat lasted four days, the daily rate far exceeded the legal allowance, amounting to US$427 per day.

Kollie’s letter emphasized, “The correct amount each Senator should have received for 2 days is US$104, and for 4 days, US$208. Instead, each of you received US$1,708. This is astonishing.” He demanded that each senator refund US$1,604, representing the excess allowance taken from public funds.

In addition to addressing Senator Konneh, Kollie’s letter also called out Senate Pro-Tempore Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence for spending US$75,000 on food alone during the retreat, despite misleading the public that only US$50,000 was spent. The actual spending included US$75,000 for food, US$25,000 for facilitators, and US$25,000 for security, drivers, and staff. Kollie also pointed out violations of the 2005 Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) Law, which requires competitive bidding for services costing more than US$10,000—a requirement that was allegedly bypassed.

Senator Konneh’s decision to refund the excess DDSA is a direct response to these allegations and the growing public demand for accountability and transparency in government spending. This move, while a positive step towards addressing the immediate issue, underscores the need for stringent adherence to financial regulations and greater oversight to prevent such discrepancies in the future.

As the public continues to scrutinize the actions of their elected officials, this episode serves as a reminder of the critical role of civic engagement and activism in holding government accountable. The people of Liberia deserve transparency and honesty from their leaders, and it is imperative that those in power adhere to the laws and regulations designed to protect public funds.

The spotlight remains on the Senate and its spending practices, with calls for further investigations and reforms to ensure such violations do not occur again.

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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