LIBERIA: SNOWE BLASTS AT MINISTRY OF FINANCE
Despite being a supporter of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government and a key campaigner of the re-election bid of President George Manneh Weah, Bomi County Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe did not mince his words in expressing serious opposition to the manner and form in which the monetary affairs of the country is being handled.
Speaking during the last day of Plenary proceeding of the Liberian Senate, the Bomi County Senator reported to the august body about how the people of Bomi have been unjustly treated by the Liberian government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) over the remission of Bomi County Social Development Fund (SDF) paid by Western Cluster.
The Bomi County Senator reported that despite US$3.5M paid by the company as SDF to the three affected counties; namely, Bomi, Grand Cape and Gbarpolu paid in US currency, MFDP converted said fund and paid in Liberian Dollar, thus making Bomi to sharp shortage of half a million due to the low exchange used by the Ministry.
Senator Snowe has in past times complained that the MFDP was not remitting the required US$3.5M annual due to his people, something which he said was undermining development in the county.
“We were short of more than half of million due to the exchange rate of the Ministry and contrary to the skyrocketing exchange rate of the market. The first thing is that the money was paid by the company in US Dollar and so the Ministry had no business to convert this into Liberian Dollar,” said Sen. Snowe.
“Let me make it clear here today that our people are not stupid. The same thing happened when Sime Darby over US$M as land rental fee we did not get that money. We are appealing to the government to pay the people their Western Cluster money. This is not fair, and in so doing we are going to invite the Finance Minister here to give us reason for this,” he added.
At the same time, Bong County Senator Prince K. Moye has decried the MFPs MFDP inability to translate SDF paid by China Union to the affected counties.
According to him, Bong has only been able to receive from the government through MFDP just US$500,000 out of US$3M paid by the company to the government as the entitled amount to the county.
“Bong should have received US$1.5M in the first payment, but got only US$500,000. In the second payment of US$1.5M that should have gone to the county, not a cent was given to the county. This means that the county has not received payment of US$2.5M; this money, despite being paid by the company, nothing yet to be paid to the people. This is very frustrating. There is no medicine and electricity at our hospitals. We would have intervened with these amount paid, but government is not remitting the funds,” the Bong County Senator told plenary.
Meanwhile, the Special Session, which commenced August 22, 2023, was adjourned today following two intensive weeks of plenary sessions. The reconvening of the Senate for the Special Session was intended to consider what it calls time- bound matters of national interest consistent with article, 32(b) of the 1986 Constitution.
In his closing statement, Senate Pro-Tempore, Albert Tugbe Chie, said the Senate was successful in approving some of the Agenda items that were earmarked for the Special Session.
The Senate Pro-Tempore indicated that the Liberian senate was successful in the confirmation of Seven Commissioners of the Liberian Anti- Corruption Commission who were recently nominated by President Weah.
Pro-Tempore Chie was however quick to say that though the Commissioners were confirmed, the Plenary mandated him not to communicate the result to the executive until all financial obligations for the unexpired portion of the tenure of the those Commissioners who were not nominated on the new board of Commissioners are settled by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
A Senate release says ‘Upper House’ was also able to get a positive update from the Board of Commissioners on the coming October elections.
According to Senate Pro-tempore Chie, the Senate also ratified the Amended and restated Mineral Development Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and the Bea Mountain Mining Company so as to continue developing gold resources in Western Liberia.
The Amendment contains improved revenue and benefits to the Government and Peoples of the host communities.
Pro-Tempore Chie also disclosed that the Public Health law was discussed informally by the Senate, and debate will continue upon the return of the Senate in the last quarter of this year amongst others.