29 May 2016

Liberia: Where Is the U.S.4 Million? Senate Seeks Explanation - Accuses Public Works

Monrovia — The Liberian Senate Plenary fell into an atmosphere of uneasiness when senators began questioning the whereabouts of 4 million United States dollars approved in the past fiscal year for roads maintenance in the country.

The curtain raiser debate among senators on the US$4 million intended for the reconditioning of major deplorable roads ensued on Plenary floor of the Liberian Senate Thursday after a communication from Grand Gedeh County Senator Marshall Dennis, highlighting the issue of deplorable roads in Liberia, was read in session.

Several Senators who spoke on the matter, after it was opened for discussion, expressed grave concern about the lack of interest by Liberian by government into the embarrassment deplorable roads were causing the people.

The joint legislative committee on budget of both the Senate and the House of Representatives which comprises 30 lawmakers allotted and approved US$4 million United States dollars for the reconditioning of major deplorable roads across Liberia.

In an apparent frustrated mood, many of the Senators who spoke at the hearing pointed out that in spite of the approval of the 2014/15 fiscal budget in the amount of US$4 million for the Ministry of Public Works to recondition bad roads around the country, the Ministry only concentrated its focus in communities that host homes of members of the executives in Monrovia, leaving out major highways in rural counties.

The senators, during the hearing, believed that the impact of US$4 million dollars allocated in the budget of the Ministry of Public Works for road maintenance, as was said to have been used for the intended purpose, could not be felt among citizens in urban communities for which the Ministry alleged it has used the money.

Speaking on the floor, Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay accused senators from the Southeastern region of Liberia of treating the issue of roads network or deplorable roads in their respective counties with "lip-service".

Senator Teahjay continued that lawmakers from Southeastern Liberia have not proven to be in the interest of the people of the region to push for roads construction and/or the conditioning of deplorable roads in that part of Liberia.

The Sinoe County senator further said the issue was no longer about major highways alone that need attention; it was equally about bridges and major feeder roads linking Monrovia to the Southeast, especially the ones between Rivercess and Sinoe Counties.

He pointed out that the feeder roads linking highways leading to Monrovia have been destroyed and need urgent repair to create smooth passage for citizens in that part of Liberia.

The Sinoe County Senator also questioned the application of the US$4 million in the Public Works Ministry's budget for roads conditioning, noting that it was time that senators take up the challenge to ensure that what is placed in budget is used for the intended purposes and in targeted areas.

Senator Teahjay then called on the Ministry of Public Works to account for the amount to the Liberian Senate and the entire Legislature.

Grand Kru County Senator Peter Coleman who took the floor also descended on the Public Works Ministry for the appalling road condition in the country.

Senator Cole noted that the country will not achieve its potentials should the issue of roads continue to be treated with neglect.

He concluded that to ensure that Liberia achieves fast development and economy growth, roads constructions and maintenance must remained major priorities of the government, and that the Ministry of Public Works must play lead in accomplishing this agenda..

Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence, who spoke earlier on the matter, said it was important that the ministries and agencies receiving budgetary allocations submit to the Liberian Senate and the National Legislature performance reports to enable lawmakers carryout their oversight responsibilities.

Senator Kangar-Lawrence said that submitting performance reports by ministries and agencies of government to the Legislature will enforce the accountability and will encourage a successful achievement of every budgetary agenda of the government.

Sen. Kangar-Lawrence concluded that until that policy aspect of coordination can be enforce by lawmakers, responsibilities assigned to ministries and agencies will not be implemented in accordance to budgetary expectations for impact on every sector of the Liberian society.


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