Govt. Debunks COVID-19 Financial Malfeasance Claims -Vows to Work with Credible Partners to Implement Food Stimulus Package

Last Saturday, Liberians were shocked to learn from Monsterrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon that the government of Liberia would be extracting US$9 million for administrative costs out of the US$30 million earmarked for the COVID-19 food distribution. But as The Analyst has now gathered from documented evidence, the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has ordered the movement of US$25 million from the Central Bank of Liberia to the World Food Programme’s account to operationalize the nationwide “free food” distribution exercise.

Reacting sharply to Senator Dillon’s social media post, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe termed the social media post from Senator Dillon as ludicrous, as he further informed a local daily that the earmarked US$25 million would be controlled by the World Food Program, in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding.

Towards operationalizing the food stimulus package, the Ministry of Finance on June 11, 2020 wrote the Central Bank of Liberia instructing the national clearing house to move to the WFP account US$25 million from the nearly US$50 million disbursed recently by the International Monetary Fund to support government’s COVID-19 Food Stimulus Package and other related activities. The said transfer is expected to be made on June 15.

While describing Senator Dillon’s social media post as a sign of “naked desperation” Minister Eugene Nagbe said the government will concentrate on garnering and receiving support to curb the negative impact of COVID-19.

The post from Senator Dillon and Minister Nagbe’s subsequent reaction followed remarks from Commerce Minister Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh last Friday when he presented a working plan for the food distribution to members of the National Legislature.

As Chairperson of the COVID-19 national taskforce on food distribution, Prof. Tarpeh informed the Senate Plenary that US$30 million had been allocated for the food distribution exercise, and out of that amount, US$20 million would be used directly for the food distribution to the citizenry, while US$9 million would go towards administrative and operational cost.

“The two amounts have been disbursed and the process is underway to get the funds into the account of the World Food Program (WFP) head office in Liberia,” Minister Tarpeh had informed the Legislature, noting further that the remaining US$5 million of the US$30 million would be used to procure local food items.

“Perhaps Senator Dillon and others should have requested further clarification from Professor Tarpeh when he informed them that the government had earmarked US$20 million for the food distribution and US$9 million for the administrative and operational cost. If in fact the government has ordered the transfer of US$25 million into the WFP account, then it simply means that US$20 million will be used for direct food assistance, while US$5 million would go towards administrative and operation costs,” Pundit said.

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