LACE Acted Contrary To Its Statutory Mandate – Kimmie Weeks Weighs on Rejection Debate

By Stephen G. Fellajuah

The rejection by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) of the return of 15,000 United States dollars by Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon to the institution for the building of public Library for Montserrado County has been generating mixed feelings in the public with diverse opinions from pro-CDCians and opposition supporters and sympathizers, the latest being generated from a Facebook post by a Liberian activist, Dr. Kimmie Weeks who criticized LACE for its stance.

Dr. Kimmie Weeks, a former senatorial candidate for Montserrado County, says he is surprised and taken aback by the press release from Liberia Agency for Community  Empowerment  which stated the that institution cannot take funds from individuals to support the work of LACE in Liberia.

Dr. Weeks made the comment Wednesday, June 16, 2021 on his Facebook page following a press statement issued by LACE rejecting US$15,000 from Senator Darius Dillon for the construction of a public library in Montserrado.

“I am particularly confused since the act establishing LACE clearly states in Section 50(b), and  24 (b) that the agency can receive funds not only from the national government but also from development partners and the community at large.  It goes on to define development partners as: “local and international donors to the social funds or activities here under”, Dr. Weeks pointed out.

He disagreed with LACE’s press statement issued Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in which the institution stated that it will not be part of the construction of a public library for Montserrado County after Senator Dillon had conceded to turn over the controversial US$15,000 to the agency. LACE said it is unable to take receipt of the US$15,000 cheque upon learning from media reports of the Senator’s intention.

The young Liberian activist indicated that LACE acted contrary to its mandate,  and said there is nowhere in the Act  creating LACE that forbids the entity from accepting donations from Liberians or international partners, specifically mentioning the LACE’s  Act in 50B.27 provides that: The Government of Liberia, Development Partners and the community at large, shall provide Funding for the Agency.

“Did the folks at LACE not read the statute establishing the agency before writing that release, he wondered, adding,  “We need to stop playing with Liberia.”

His criticism and disagreement with LACE comes in the wake of a press statement issues by the agency, informing Senator Dillon and apprising the public that the regulations governing its operations and statutes do not allow it to carry out individual projects for legislators outside the structures of an MOU signed between itself and the Legislator and in line with budget appropriations or budget process.

In its statement, the agency said “LACE would carry out such a project as part of the budget, and once such appropriation is made to LACE through the budget process,” the agency said, noting that receipt of individual project monies from legislators would be contrary to governance norms to which LACE subscribes and would be a marked departure from LACE’s best practice.”

“We regret to inform the Senator that LACE is unable to take receipt of the US$15,000 check,” the Agency declared.

The Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment’s statement publicly distancing itself from implementing projects targeted by legislators under the US$15,000 disbursements because doing so contravenes the Liberian budget law leaves more questions than answer, since LACE had done several individual projects including the re-roofing of the hoses in Gibrata under the patronage of President George Weah.

Observers are watching to know what action Senator Dillon contemplates since LACE is apparently acting on what other called influence of the ruling establishment apparently out of vendetta. it remains to be seen the next course of action that Senator Dillon and other lawmakers who might harbor  similar intentions.

Meanwhile, those who followed the Liberian politician on the social media post in the discussion gave mix perspectives relative to his Facebook the position taken by the nation’s premier community empowerment institution, LACE.

Alvin Jay Bailey, in his reaction to the post said LACE’s press statement is politically induced to strangulate the Senator, saying it is the same LACE that built properties for President Manneh Weah in Grand Kru.  “Did Pepci Yeke not remember the laws then,” he asked.

Also commenting under Weeks’ post, Sekou B. Kamara disagreed with the former senatorial candidate, saying “While it is understandable why LACE declined to accept 15k from Senator Dillon, I do not think the money should be considered as a donation from Senator Dillon. He’s returning that money because it is against the act that established LACE, the sole authority clothed with the responsibility to implement legislative projects.”

Patrick Papie Gartya, for his Part, expressed his disappointment in the government and also noted that Senator Dillon otherwise referred to as ADD felt and is trying to rise up from his fall. But the government is not will to help him rise by accepting the money.

Mr. Gartya furthered, “Arrogance is the cause from the angle of the government.”They have all complained that ADD is not returning the 3,000 USD he’s cutting from his salary to the people of his county, but now he’s giving it to the right governmental entity, they are still finding ways to pressure him to join them in doing the wrong things. This too is Liberia.”

Cyrus Ricardo Dwayn who also commented under the post said, “I agree with Mr. Weeks 100%. As supporters of Dillon, some of us condemned him for accepting the money though, it was notwithstanding an illegal funds because it’s clearly in the budget. He further said, “But we felt it was not timely and that it was a wasteful spending.”

“Dillon chose to listen to the public and give the money to LACE to implement his project, sadly, the government has arm twisted LACE.” He noted.

He said, “LACE is wrongly arguing that it cannot implement individual projects, and the institution cannot also receive finding from individual to carry on projects, but this is the very LACE that re-roofed houses in Gilbtrata; it was the president’s personal initiative.”

Moses Johnson also commented. He said the release is cleared, LACE can’t implement a project from an individual lawmaker once it’s not done through budgetary PPROPRIATION.  Besides, Sen. Dillion isn’t a developmental organization.

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