The New Dawn (Monrovia)

15 March 2014

Liberia: 'Senseless Outcry' - GOL Rubbishes $200 Million Claims

Government's spokesman Lewis G. Brown is pondering if there's any sense to claims that government spent $200m on foreign public relations, while it struggles with a budget of some US$500m.

"Even if you don't like us, it makes no sense; [when] we just got $500 million for the whole country budget, which is [the budget] for some elementary schools in some other countries... then somebody says we're taking $200 million of that and sending it for PR- that's not true," said Information Minister Lewis G. Brown.

His comments on Thursday came after President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in a letter addressed to House Speaker Alex J. Tyler dated March 7, disclosed that the government spent over US$368,209.00 on international public relations, other than the alleged US$200 million claims made by Maryland County Lawmaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers.

Addressing the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism or MICAT's regular Thursday press briefing, the Information Minister argued that it was an incitement of the people against their government, claims that $200m was spent for foreign public relations in the United States amid several challenges here.

Amid tough times the government was facing here to build everything all over from school to church, Minister Brown said the government was asking for aid, and yet, others were inciting people with claims that the very government was sending $200 million to the United States to do public relations.

As to claims, attributed to Dr. Chambers and others, accusing President Sirleaf of insulting lawmakers in her letter to Speaker Tyler, Minister Brown said the president was referring to the report that Dr. Chambers had based his allegations.

But the Minister argued strongly that it hurts the nation and people that officials of government, who claim to love the nation and its people, will stand to suggest without any verification, that the government was sending out $200m instead of using it here to built latrines, schools and hospitals.

"People will think we have our priorities upside down- we're crazy people; so when you go ask for help, who will help you?"

He said the Department of State in the United States reports to the US Government twice a year of every foreign agent or every US registered company doing business with a foreign government or foreign firm.

He said KIL International contacted US Government officials, media representatives, congressional staffers, members of Congress and others, to discuss the state of bilateral relations between the United States and Liberia.

Minister Brown, explaining from a power point, said further that the registrant which is KIL International also contacted US Government officials to ensure that the foreign principal or Liberia, remain eligible for bilateral programs, at a cost of US$30,000.00 for a six month period ending July 31, 2012.

Giving reasons for Liberia's need for public relations in America, Minister Brown said "Even if America can't help you, you don't want them to hurt you; by that, when the people sneeze in America, everybody else can get cold," he indicated, saying even big countries around the world perceived to be an equal to America, have public relations in America.

He argued that just as Liberia does only by offering US$30,000.00 every month to have somebody (KIL International) knocking on the doors of America everyday on her behalf, other countries do; but not as less as Liberia pays.

He said what Liberia gets in return to the public relations in America partly are support from USAID, training of the army here, hydro program, and other activities America was engaged in here. He, however, concluded that it was due to inexperience on the part of others here, that they were making allegations against the government.

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