CSNL Disagrees With Snowe on PW Boss -Calls Senator’s Action “Overreach”

MONROVIA – The Civil Society Network of Liberia (CSNL) has said it is troubled and disgusted over the demand of Bomi County Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe that the Minister of Public Works, Mrs. Ruth Coker-Collins should present reports on all ongoing road works in the country, including all payment receipts to road contractors and described the action as “sinister and amount to legislative overreach”

CSNL was reacting to the demand from Senator Snowe which was given to Minister Collins at the end of her reeent appearance before the Senate’s Public Works Committee which is being chaired by the Senator that the minister should present information on all payments made to road contractors in the country.

“The Civil Society Network of Liberia strongly believes that Senator Snowe’s demands that the Public Works Minister present information and receipts of payments made to road contractors in the country is sinister and amount to legislative overreach. While the Legislature has oversight responsibility over the workings of agencies of the executive branch, it lacks the authority to play the role of an auditor or auditing institution. The Senate’s committee on Public Works, lest to say the committee chair in Senator Snowe does not have the right to request for payment receipts to road contractors. The act of requesting for information and payment receipts to road contractors is tantamount to usurping the function of the General Auditing Commission (GAC), which has been statutorily legislated by the very Legislature to audit the operations of agencies of government”, CSNL said in a press statement dated February 22, 2023..

In the press statement which was signed and approved by Francis Collins and Sensee Kiadii, Secretary General and Executive Director respectively, CSNL said it was making it clear that there are clearly laid down processes through which agencies of government account for monies allotted to them for operations and that Senator Snowe needs to understand that under the Public Financial Management Law, it is only the GAC or anti-graft institutions that have the function to audit the operations of government agencies regarding receipts and payments of funds.

“So, it is illegal for Senator Snowe to request the minister of Public Works to provide all receipts of payments made to road contractors in the absence of an audit report. Until an audit is conducted on the operations of the Ministry of Public Works, showing allegations of mismanagement of funds, no oversight committee of the Legislature, including the Public Accounts & Expenditures committee has the authority to do raw audit or review of the books of the Ministry”.

“The Civil Society Network of Liberia also sees as legislatively intimidating and worrisome for Senator Snowe to accuse the Minister of Public Works of ‘cherry picking’ in payment made to road contractors in the absence of reviewing the ministry’s contractors payment record. This also shows that Senator Snowe wants to use his influence as chair of the Committee on Public Works to ensure that payments are made to his interest contractors. This assertion by Senator Snowe has an interest-protection undertone and is totally out of order.

“It is noteworthy for the CSNL to state that the statement by Minister Ruth Coker Collins that 12% of roads have been completed shouldn’t be misconstrued or taken in actual terms. It is an administrative psychological expression intended to dismiss any form of excitement by road contractors, and motivate them to do more in ensuring that the Ministry meets its road construction goals. There are several roads that have been constructed, and are undergoing construction that visibly show that far more than 12% of roads have been completed. The Fish Town to Harper Road; Ganta to Saclepea Road; Ganta to Sanniquellie; Gbarnga to Sanoyea Road; Sanniquellie to Luguatuo Road; the Banjor to Bomi Road; the Soul Clinic Road; the Johnsonville Road; and many other roads  are laudable accomplishments of the Ministry of Public Works under Minister Ruth Coker Collins.

Concluding the press statement CSNL called on Senator Snowe to desist from intimidating the Minister of Public works, as he lacks the authority to demand the Minister to provide receipts of payments made to road contractors. “This does not fall within his scope as Chair of the Senate’s committee on Public Works. Senator Snowe should rather focus on clearing himself from widespread allegations that he received bribes from Western Cluster Liberia for their illegal operation in Bomi County”, the statement said.

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