Monrovia — Deputy House Speaker Hans Barchue has disclosed that the Finance Ministry has not disbursed to members of the House of Representatives district development funds for projects amounting to five million United States Dollars.
Rep. Barchue said, though the money was placed in an escrow account, but Lawmakers are finding it difficult to access the money in order to carry out development in their various districts.
He said with the budget year coming to a close, it is important that the public is aware of the unfolding development. Deputy Minister for Budget, Sebastian Muah, said the holdup in disbursing the US$5 million is due to the lack of project earmarked by the Lawmakers for the project.
Deputy Minister Muah said both the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives have not agreed on the projects to be implemented with the money and as such the Ministry can not make disbursements. He said in the 2012/2013 budget an amount of US$1 million was appropriated out of which LACE was expected to implement projects, but the entity only used US$600,000 of the amount.
The Deputy Minister said as a result of the failure of the Legislature to submit the projects to be implemented the Finance Ministry has not provided the funding and the Liberian Senate wrote requesting the Ministry not to disburse the funding until the projects are identified.
"Both houses suppose to agree on which projects to use the money for; money cannot be disbursed until the senate and the house agree on the projects. If it means we carry the money forward for the same Legislature to re-appropriate it, we will do that", said Muah.
Not hurry on oil law
The Deputy Speaker said that the National Legislature is in no hurry to pass the draft oil law without addressing the many sticky issues that the law did not take into consideration.
He said Lawmakers at the level of the House of Representatives are concerned about addressing those issues before passing the draft law and the body wants the law to make a positive impact in the lives of the ordinary Liberian. Rep. Barchue said the law has not addressed the issue of local content, which means differentiating between oil and gas and who gets what.
The Lawmaker also failed to provide the full report on the over nine hundred thousand United States dollars used by the House of Representatives on the nationwide oil consultations as was promised during his previous press conference as he again promised that the report will be made available in subsequent time.
Commending Vocational Education
Deputy Speaker Burchue has also recommended that vocational education be included in the academic activities of secondary education in Liberia. He said the bulk of the youths graduating from high schools and universities nowadays finds it difficult to find jobs because most of the courses offered are in accounting, economics, public administration and management.
Barchue said: "If you did survey years ago, waterside market was a combination of Ghanaians and Nigerians who were degree holders; but right now if you did a similar survey, waterside and Redlight markets are a combination of Liberians who have degrees".
He also said "The question is, is the direction of our educational system proper or should we shift the emphasis? Maybe counselors at various universities need to tell the students what courses to do; to help them to shift their emphasis in those disciplines that will benefit them tomorrow."
Speaking Saturday at the joint graduation program of the Thomas Fallah Computer training institute in Paynesville, Rep. Barchue challenged the graduates to take advantage of what they learned and be a help to themselves and their communities as well as the nation.
He said, Liberia as a country and part of the global community technologically transforming, knowledge in computer is an added advantage that should be welcomed and supported by all stakeholders and well-meaning Liberians. Deputy speaker Barchue also commended Representative Fallah for the initiative to provide the enabling environment for young people that will provide them with professional skills.
The deputy speaker cautioned the National Oil Company to decentralize the scholarship programs for students wanting to study in the oil sector as he said oil discovery is not limited to one county. "Take your recruiting exercise to Lofa, Bomi, Nimba, Bong, Buchanan and all other counties and recruit people from there and train them," he said.
For his part Representative Fallah (CDC-District#5 Montserrado County) proprietor of the T-Five institute in the Paynesville community said he will push for the school to be subsidized in the National budget as the Legislature deliberates on it for FY: 2014/14.
Rep. Fallah said, though the school was established by him, it is providing vocational and academic education to students who are Liberians but do not have the opportunity to sponsor themselves in school. "I think it is only but fair that the T-Five Academy and vocational training institute benefit from the subsidy as others are also benefiting from government subsidies," he said.
"We have been doing it alone, but we think it is time that we raise the alarm for national government to assist the process. But be it as it may, whether or not the government comes in, we will continue to carry on. But we think it is fair that we too benefit from this as another area." Over fifty students graduated with certificate in advanced computer knowledge.