22 February 2013

Liberia: Commerce Ministry Swings in U.S. Four Million

An investigation by this paper has discovered that the ministry has failed to account for proceeds from the sale of the first consignment of the Japanese-donated rice to the Liberian Government. The consignment is expected to have netted US$4 million.

But officials of the Commerce Ministry, including Minister Miata Beysolow and Deputy Minister for Public Affairs, Rufus Neufville continue to shy away from providing the account title and number, as well as the bank in which the money was deposited.

It can be recalled that the Japanese and Liberian Governments in March 2008 signed an Exchange of Note for the first consignment of 8,617 metric tons of rice as Food Aid for monetization to support socio-economic development projects in Liberia.

A total of US$ 4 Million was reportedly realized and the amount should have been used o finance the paddy and feed rice project executed by the Cooperation Development Agency with the Ministry of Agriculture exercising oversight authority.

Also in March 2010, the Governments of Liberia (GOL) and Japan signed Separate Exchange of Notes for an additional consignment of 19,101 metric tons of rice, which the Commerce Ministry says it is still being monetized, the noting that part of that agreement also included mixed petroleum products of 12,404 metric Tons valued at US$ 25 Million, and that the proceeds would again be used to support Liberia's Socio-Economic Development.

When Minister Beysolow was contacted for verification, she declined to comment and later referred this paper to Deputy Minister Rufus Neufville for comments on behalf of the ministry, but he went mute on the matter struggling to select his words in response to the information.

Minister Neufville, after few minutes of delay on the phone, Neufville, who served in the House of Representatives for eight years, promised to respond to matter in seconds following contacts with those in-charges of the rice project. Hours again, this paper again contacted Neufville, but refused respond to the call up.

There are also reports that some of the money generated from the sales was used to financing the 2011 Unity Party campaign activities that brought President Ellen Johnson to the Liberian presidency for her second term, while a huge portion is still with Commerce Minister Beysolow.

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