Monrovia, Liberia – February 18, 2019: The fight against public corruption in the West African country of Liberia appears to be a losing exercise in addition to lackluster support from the George M. Weah Administration.
Capitol Hill, Monrovia Liberia – February 12, 2019: An investigation conducted by the West African Journal Magazine reveals that, in violation of the Liberian Constitution, the Executive branch of the Liberian Government has failed to provide expenditure reports to the National Legislature since the inauguration a year ago of the George M. Weah Administration.
The specific Constitutional provision Article 34 states that “…(ii) no monies shall be drawn from the treasure except in consequence of appropriations made by legislative enactment and upon warrant of the President; and no coin shall be minted or national currency issued except by the expressed authority of the Legislature. An annual statement and account of the expenditure of all public monies shall be submitted by the office of the President to the Legislature and published once a year…”
Members of Liberia’s Legislature are failing in their Constitutional duty and oversight to hold the President accountable for provision of the reports which are due quarterly. Four expenditure Reports are now delinquent.
Earlier this month and in open protest, a lawmaker from the southeast administrative district of River Gee County Francis Dopoh II, staged, a “walk out” of legislative plenary session at the Capitol. He later fired off a letter to the House Speaker in which he charged that “…the importance of these financial reports are intended to give this Honorable House an understanding of the performances of various budget lines and to help us guide the direction of the government’s fiscal stance…”
Excerpt of CBL 2018 Revenue Publication
The Liberian Ministry of Finance and Development Planning oversees the budget preparation, execution and reporting processes, in close collaboration with the National Legislature; but has failed along with other government agencies to report to the President and National Legislature for over a year.
Meantime, an inside source at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), has disclosed that revenue collected over the final quarter of 2018 is still unaccounted for on the books of the country’s central bank.
Last August, the LRA announced that it actually collected USD $41.48 million, well above the USD $33.7 million which it says it targeted for collection. All revenue collected were within Liberia.
The source who is intimately knowledgeable about the non-reporting of millions of USD revenue still do not show as “inflow” or “deposit” from the LRA and no credible system exist at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to transparently account for monies received. The Liberian Financial Statistics bulletin published by the CBL for Sept-October, 2018 reveals Revenue and Non-Tax Revenue sources for the Government for the period between July – October showed a total of an estimated USD $24.4 million.
There is no reporting for the period between October – December, 2018 nor any record of the $$41.48 million reported as revenue collected by the LRA.
The LRA says its mission is to “ professionally, fairly, transparently and effectively collect lawful revenues; facilitate legitimate trade and social protection for the people of Liberia.
CPA Aaron Wleh
A Liberian Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Mr. Aaron Wleh, based in Massachusetts the U.S., when contacted, questioned the accounting and bookkeeping regime of Liberia’s Central Bank. “This is not an accounting error. The monies are either at the bank or missing and squandered and must be accounted for And I don’t see where the Bank believes it has an obligation to accurately report on its books,” Mr. Wleh noted.
A Liberian Management scientist Dr. A. Joel King based in New Jersey, U.S. recommended that the CBL initiate a system to report monthly on its revenue sources, balance sheet and statement of cash. “An accurate system of reporting that meets international best practices is needed at the CBL,’ Dr. King said.
Liberia’s economy is under serious stress and the Government has come under heavy criticisms by citizens and international partners for lack of transparency in the management of resources and pervasive graft.
Most major financial defenses are lacking due to lack of technical capacity and infrastructure which are hampering Government’s ability to improve its financial governance system.
By Our Economic Reporter
West African Journal Magazine
The Liberian Senate has begun serious debate on the proposed Dual Citizenship bill for Liberians and others who have pledged their allegiances to other nations to obtain citizenship as Liberian.
Liberian Legislators in Session – File Photo
Our Monrovia correspondent reports that some members of the Liberian Senate who are in support of the Bill said that it’s time that modern day Liberians think twice about those Liberians who fled the country and obtained citizenship in other countries to allow them to also form party of the country’s rebuilding process.
Senators from other counties said that the debate is necessary and healthy but that it will be important for the committee to bring in experts to enable lawmakers to hear their views on the matter and make a good decision at the end.
Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson
As the debate went on, Nimba County Senator and former war lord, Prince Y. Johnson told his colleagues that supporting dual citizenship is not the priority of the people of Liberia.
Senator Johnson who committed hideous crimes during the civil conflict in Liberia said instead of the Liberian Senate wasting its time after bills that have no effect on the people of Liberia, they should instead focus on strengthening the education, health and other sectors of the country.
The former rebel general now Senator from northeastern Liberia added that those supporting the Dual Citizenship Bill are those who have pledged their allegiances to other countries and take Liberia to be their farmland where they can collect funds to support their families abroad.
The Nimba County Lawmaker further stated that these people come to Liberia to earn money and send the money to other countries to buy houses and support their families who are in those foreign lands. He said these individuals are not helping to build Liberia instead they are destroying the country.
Also speaking, Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Varney Sherman who was indicted for corruption in the Sable Mining case in the last administration presented the Bill in Plenary and stated reasons why Dual Citizenship Law should exist.
Senator Sherman who is chair on Judiciary at the Liberian Senate gave reasons why amendments to the the country’s Alien and Nationality law is necessary The Senator said it is unfair to have a naturalized Liberian in another country and deny them their citizenship.
He stated that it is necessary to make amendment on chapter 20, 21 and 22 of the Alien and Nationality law. Giving reasons, he said when a father’s citizenship is revoked the child/children’s citizenship should not be revoked as it is stated in the law.
According to reports, this is the third time that the Dual Citizenship Bill has been presented to the Senate plenary for discussion but it has not been favorably supported. The first it was discussed was during the leadership of the 52nd and the second time the 53rd Legislature lawmakers and it was trashed out due to its nature. Now the 54th session of the small West African county’s Legislative body has been presented with this Bill and from the views of several lawmakers, this bill will not be passed into law.
President George Weah, in his annual message said since the founding of this country in 1847, more than 170 years ago, there have been certain restrictions on citizenship and property ownership that in my view have become serious impediments to the development and progress of this country.
He stated that these restrictions include the limitation of citizenship only to black people, the limitation of property ownership exclusively to citizens, and the non-allowance of dual citizenship.
He mentioned, “This may have been appropriate for the 19th century, and for the threats and conditions that existed at that time. However, here in the 21st century, I am of the view that these threats no longer exist, and that these conditions have changed. In these circumstances, it is my view that keeping such a clause in our constitution is unnecessary, racist, and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today in the comity of nations.”
“It also contradicts the very definition of Liberia, which is derived from the Latin word “liber,” meaning ‘Liberty’. I believe that we should have nothing to fear from people of any other race of becoming citizens of Liberia, once they conform to the requirements of our Immigration and Naturalization Laws, as maybe appropriately amended to address this new situation,” President Weah stated.
The Liberian leader said, “In fact, we have everything to gain. If we look in our region amongst the other member states of ECOWAS, especially our neighbors in La Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, it will soon be observed that permitting people of other races to become citizens has not marginalized their indigents”.
“I believe that this is an anomaly that should not have found its way into the 1986 Constitution -Chapter 4, Article 27. I therefore strongly recommend and propose, respectfully, that consideration should be given to removing it by appropriate measures provided for in our laws for amending constitution,” President Weah noted.
Reporting by Lincoln Barcon in Monrovia
West African Journal Magazine
Contrary to conflicting statements by incumbent President George M. Weah and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on the state of the Country’s economy, the House of Representatives has confirmed that Liberia is actually broke.
House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, after hours of closed-door session disclosed that after listening to Central Bank of Liberia’s Governor, Milton Weeks and the Ministry of Finance, Development Planning, it was confirmed that the country is broke as was previously stated by President George M. Weah in his annual address.
According to information gathered from sources at the Capitol Building, the seat of the country’s Legislature, members of the House of Representatives are believed to be hiding some basic information from the public which has the propensity of creating doubts in the minds of the people that elected them as their representatives.
Our sources at the House of Representatives said the CBL disclosed that the funds that the former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf spoke of, in the country’s reserve account, is over US$300 million but can be used after a specific period of time; the time which is yet to be specified.
Political observers are saying if those lawmakers are concealing public information from the citizens of Liberia then they are afraid that Liberians will continue to live below the poverty line because of the lawmakers’ inability to tell them the current state of the nation’s economy.
After hours of a closed-door session on Thursday, the issue of releasing the proper information as to whether the country’s economy is actually broken, as President Weah said, was not clear thereby leaving doubts on the minds of many.
In President George Weah’s first State of the Nation address, he informed the citizens that the West African country’s economy is broken and that the country is broke. But contrary to his statement, former President Sirleaf, in an interview on the BBC, claimed that she left more than US$400 million in the nation’s treasury; something that has caused serious concern among the populace.
The two conflicting statements by President George M. Weah that Liberia’s treasury is empty and the government is broke and former President Sirleaf’s revelation caused the lawmakers to invite the three public financial institutions to give a clear picture of the state of the nation’s economy.
In his testimony in the Chamber of the House Thursday, Central Bank Governor Weeks said as of January 22, 2018 the bank has over US$5 million and the amount of over L$500 million.
Also speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, Development Planning, the Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Samora Wolokollie disclosed that when the CDC-led Government took over, the country had over US$11 million and L$600 million respectively which summed up to US$ 16 million.
Our correspondent in the Liberian capital reports that the baffling question is who is really telling the truth on the state of the nation’s financial standing; as President Weah has said that the nation is seriously broke while former President Sirleaf has claimed that the country is not broke?
Meantime, some Liberian social media posters are heavily criticizing the former Liberian President Johnson-Sirleaf and asking the current administration to conduct an audit of her government.
By Lincoln Barcon in Monrovia
West African Journal Magazine
Monrovia, 16 January, 2018 – In the West African nation of Liberia, less than a week to the inauguration of President-Elect George Weah to succeed outgoing president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, lawmakers on Monday convened the first session of the 54th Legislature where a new corp of leadership was selected.
Maryland County Rep. Bhofal Chambers emerged as Speaker unopposed while Bong County Rep. Prince K. Moye was elected deputy speaker over Grand Bassa County Rep. Hans Barchue, who previously held that position.
But the election of Sinoe County Senator Albert T. Chie as president pro-tempore astonished political analysts who voiced criticisms that both legislative and executive powers have now gone to the southeast of the small West African nation, since President-elect Weah also hails from Sinoe in the southeast.
But the new President Pro-Tempore Senator Chie of Sinoe differs, arguing that Weah had been Senator of Montserrado County; an unamusing reality since Weah ran and won and has been Senator for Montserrado County since 2014.
Yet Weah has, at no point, ever denied the truism of his roots in Sinoe County in southeastern Liberia, Senator Chie argued.
Meanwhile, outgoing Vice President Joseph Boakai and former House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay on Monday turned over their offices to their respective successors.
Vice President-elect Jewel Howard praised Dr. Boakai for his fine leadership as leader of the Liberian Senate during the past twelve years, and suggested retention of some of Boakai’s key staff for her start-off, saying “ we will be new to this office”.
In another political development, barely one week before President Sirleaf hand over power to her successor Weah, executives of the outgoing ruling Unity Party (UP) have expelled the Standard Bearer Emeritus President Johnson-Sirleaf and others including Commany Wesseh and Medina S. Wesseh for what has been described as party “disloyalty and gross violation of its constitution”.
Executives of the ruling Unity Party (UP), in a statement issued over the weekend in Monrovia, accused the expelled members of “campaigning for the CDC.”
But President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf rebuked the action as “illegal”, saying there was not even a due process prior to taking of the action.
Liberians are divided over this strange development as they countdown to a historical democratic transition never seen for more than seven decades since William VS Tubman was inaugurated on 3rd January 1944. President elect George Weah will be inaugurated on January 22nd to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
By Tepitapia Sannah in Monrovia