U.S. AMBASSADOR TO LIBERIA SAYS COUNTY HOSPITALS DID NOT RECEIVE MONEY DESTINED TO THEM
U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Michael A. McCarthy has been touring inner Liberia to ascertain conditions in various hospitals for the past three weeks. According to the American diplomat, this was in fulfillment of his promise to the U.S. Congress to be an Ambassador to all Liberia, not just Monrovia.
McCarthy said in a press release from the U.S. Embassy that he was frightened to notice that county hospitals did not receive money that was destined to them.
“Unfortunately, on the trip I was startled and deeply troubled to encounter multiple county hospitals that received not one penny of what they were promised in the 2022 budget. Hospitals on which lives depend, where outbreaks are prevented and suffering is alleviated, did not receive any portion of the US$100,000 or more appropriated by the legislature for them to operate. As reported in the press last week with Tellowoyan Memorial Hospital in Lofa County, these facilities currently survive on the backs of incredibly dedicated health professionals, making do with whatever they can scrape together. Lest you think this is the work of one political party, that notion was quickly dispelled by Liberians I talked to.” He said.
The U.S. Ambassador lamented on the fact that new hospital built was finding it difficult to get a care taker because local authorities believe it will be more difficult to take care of a bigger hospital when the “make shift” facility is yet to be taken care of.
“The blocking of resources is so complete that it must be institutional: and the lack of any alarm being raised indicates a syndicate involving players at the legislature, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In one town, administrators look with anticipation mixed with fear at the brand-new, modern hospital that sits vacant, knowing that they can barely keep the existing makeshift facility going, and running the new one will require ten times the resources.” The Ambassador said.
Ambassador McCarthy said that the United States Government is about to spend a total of over US$40 million constructing Liberia’s state-of-the-art National Reference Laboratory (NRL) that, when completed, will require US$3 million to US$4 million a year from the Government of Liberia to operate.
“If the Government is failing to deliver statutory appropriations of only US$100,000 to existing hospitals, why would we ever trust annual pledges of US$3 million for the future NRL?” He added.
The U.S. diplomat also grieved on how legislators are “busy buttering their bread” instead of making sure that what is allotted for in the national budget is quite implemented.
“It was striking that the further I went from Monrovia, the more elaborate and explicit were the reasons given for the lack of funding from the central government. “Oh, it is challenging for the government these days.” “Oh, Putin’s war has made everything more difficult.” “Prices have dried up the budgets.” “You donor partners must fill the gaps.” I wonder if these people are aware that, much to their credit, the LRA has surpassed projections and increased revenues for the past four years, climbing from US$435,682 million in 2019 to US$605,005 million in 2022? I suspect the country folk don’t know that the Liberian economy grew by 3.7% in 2022. And I am quite sure they have not been told that the legislature has spent more every year for the past three years buttering their own bread, allocating over US$65 million in 2022 for salaries and operations.
That’s correct – while hospitals went without, and service centers withered on the vine, the 30 senators and the 73 representatives spent sixty-five million U.S. dollars feathering their own nests.
We withhold 25% of the salaries of our Liberian employees at the Residence and at the Embassy to pay their legally mandated income tax to the LRA. Why are the much better-paid representatives and senators not paying a full 25% of their salaries? Why are legislators and ministers, those living on the top of the heap, given annual duty-free imports that deny the LRA much-needed additional revenue? Is there any reason other than the perverted version of the Golden Rule – “those that have the gold, make the rules”? McCarthy said in a press release.