12 June 2014

Liberia: Kofi Woods' Probe Recommended

A lawmaker of the 53rd Legislature has recommended the investigation of former Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods by the House of Representatives.

Grand Bassa County Representative J. Byron Browne said his decision to recommend Mr. Woods' investigation is predicated upon the blame games being played by incumbent Public Works Minister Dr. Antoinette Weeks.

Minister Weeks is on record for describing works done during the Kofi Woods' administration as substandard, thereby placing a moratorium on the signing of new road construction contracts in the country.

Appearing before the House of Representatives Tuesday, Minister Weeks openly told the lawmakers that various road construction contracts were awarded to companies on the basis of single source from 2011-2013.

Single sourcing is a process where individuals or companies are singlehandedly selected and awarded contracts without a competitive bidding process.

Minister Weeks disclosed that those contracts single sourced amounted to 72 percent of the total contracts awarded by the Ministry of Public Works from 2011 to 2013.

The Public Works Minister further admitted that from these periods, the Public Works Ministry actually single sourced 34 contracts.

She said documents available for these contracts revealed that they were awarded because they were not objected by the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC).

In an apparent angry tone, Rep. Browne said citizens of the country are tired of Minister Weeks' continuous blame games for which he has suggested an investigation of Mr. Woods so that he could provide clarity on some of these grave allegations coming from his successor.

Browne said inviting Mr. Woods to appear before the House's Plenary or Committee on Public Works would give a clear picture to make an informed decision on situation at the Public Works Ministry.

"Madam Minister sometimes shifts blames by saying I should have gotten these things I did not receive it because of the past minister, as a citizen if you resign that does not put you above the law. I would think Mr. Kofi Woods should be made to answer to some of these questions," Rep Browne stressed.

Rep. Browne said this stance is to register that people who serve the government and resign are subject to inquiry if the need arises because they were entrusted with the country's money.

Last week, the Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Public Works and Rural Development Oscar Cooper unearthed that over US$80 million worth of road construction contracts were awarded to contractors by the Ministry of Public Works on the basis of single sourcing.

Senator Cooper said information in the possession of the Senate Public Works Committee has revealed that most of these single sourced contracts were not signed by the ministers of Public Works, Finance and Justice, as required by the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of Liberia.


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