12 March 2014

Liberia: 'Great Harm' - Prez Addresses U.S.$200 Million Lobby Fees to U.S. Firms

Photo: Liberian Legislature
Members of the Liberian legislature in session (file photo).

Monrovia — The Office of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has described as irresponsible and uninformed media reports of claims made by Rep. Bhofal Chambers (CDC-Maryland County) regarding an alleged use of more than US$200 million in lobbying fees to foreign firms by the government of Liberia.

Legislature Probes $200M PR Expenditure

The President in a letter to the plenary of the House of Representatives claimed that Liberia could suffer potentially great harm by the allegations made by Representative Chambers.

The President in her communication, said: "It is simply preposterous to believe that with a budget under US$600 million and under a transparent and accountable financial system,the government could spend such an amount.

The President added that Liberia's Ambassador accredited to the United States of America, Mr. Jeremiah Sulunteh, who is now in the country to participate in the US-Liberian partnership Dialogue confirmed the concerns expressed by friends of the Liberian government in the US congress who may believe that the statement made by the legislators has to have been verified.

Said President Sirleaf: "It is my understanding that you call for a hearing on this issue and was fully informed that such expenses can be attributed to the Liberia shipping Registry Corporation, the US Company which registered as an agent for Liberia's Maritime program."

The President, in her communication, declared that the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs has provided evidence that the only lobbying done by the Liberia is limited to the US firm KRL, for which a total amount of US$ 368,209 was spent over the period 2007 to 2013 averaging US$52,601.00 per annum.

Said Sirleaf: "Mr. Speaker, we often try to understand the motive behind those who spread wicked and false information to undermine the credibility of our Country and can only conclude that this dirty politics will end up hurting the country," the President said.

Representative Chambers, last month wrote a communication to plenary of the House of Representatives asking the August body to launch an investigation into an alleged spending of over two hundred million United States dollars made by the US State Department in its report's on Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

The United States department of records in its report claimed that the Liberian government paid more money for public relations abroad in 2008 than expenditure it capture in 2007. Chambers in his communication further claimed that firms where services were periodically solicited or contracted are located in Washington DC and Vienna, Virginia, USA.

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