LISGIS Says ‘Census On Course’ -Refutes Allegations Of Corruption Stalling 2022 Census

The Liberia Statistics and Geo-Information System (LISGIS) says it has made significant progress along with its international partners in the process of conducting the 2022 National Population & Housing Census (NPHC) despite delays caused by Covid-19.

According to LISGIS, the NPHC began in since April 2021 with the marking of all public and private buildings and structures in Liberia—a process known as the mapping process which ended on 28 February 2022 with 19,225 enumeration areas (EAs).

The Government’s Chief Data Center’s assertions in apparent rebuff to reports in the media quoting senior management sources that the NPHC could be stalled due to “massive corruption” at the state agency.

LISGIS says it has embarked on a massive dissemination awareness of the census, dividing the country into five zones of three regions, which has involved the use of traditional means of communications (town criers and town hall meetings).

“Rumors circulating about the postponement of census are untrue and LISGIS encourages the public to welcome filed staff in their respective homes during the enumeration phase,” said a press statement issued by the organization.

The release stated: “The Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS)’s attention has been drawn to a FrontPage Africa front page lead story, published online and on social media on 29 March 2022 with the headline, “Corruption Galore at LISGIS stalling census?”, which contained a litany of allegations.”

According to the release, LISGIS said it enjoys the confidence of the Liberian Government and its Partners, who are funding the operations of the census.

“The L$300,000, which was mentioned as the source of corruption in the story, wasn’t transferred to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) pool fund because said amount was in Liberian dollars in keeping with the government’s 40-60-percent transfer of United States dollars and Liberian dollars to agencies and ministries,” LISGIS clarified.

“Additionally, converting the L$300,000 to United States dollars at the prevailing rate would have caused losses to the government looking at the translation difference since the pool-fund account only accepts United States dollars.”

The management team reached a decision to have the L$300,000 in its account for operational costs for transactions relating to activities of the census locally. This amount (L$300,000.00) has been fully reported and said period has been audited by the GAC.

LISGIS received US$1,150,000 and L$97,721,761.38 contrary to the US$1.8 million reported in a story published by a media house.

The release further asserted: “On 13 February 2019, LISGIS received US$700,000 and L$48,107,761.38 with the description ‘2019 National Housing & Population Census’. On 28 October 2021, LISGIS received US$450,000 and L$49,614,000 with the description ‘2019 National Housing & Population Census’. The management team also agreed to withdraw US$50,000 for census dissemination activities with all documents approved in keeping with its financial regulations, including raising vouchers.”

At a presentation done at the census steering committee meeting, three budget scenarios were presented at the meeting but scenario three, which projected a funding gap of US$6.5 million, was accepted.

According to LISGIS, the government and World Bank pledged US$4 million (US$2 million each) while the United Nations system in Liberia promised US$500,000.

The government parastatal also indicated that the General Auditing Commission (GAC) conducted a June 2021 audit of the Harmonizing Improved Statistics in West Africa (HISWA) project at MFDP’s Project Financial Management Unit with zero trace of corruption. The report is available at GAC and LISGIS.

“The HISWA project, under which the second phase of the geographic mappers’ training was funded, also offloaded the payment of US$2,417,800 156 geographic mappers, 36 supervisors and four coordinators for 11 months (April 2021 to February 2022),” the release further quotes the management as saying.

Said LISGIS: “It is important for the public to note that what is happening at the LISGIS of recent is an internal issue relating to the removal of the Census Coordinator Mr. G. Alex Williams who also serves as the Deputy Director General Statistics and Data Processing”

Accuser’s Fate

The source quoted by sections of the media on the corruption story is Mr. Alex Williams, but LISGIS said he was removed by the management of the LISGIS on ground that he has incessantly embarrassed the Director General of LISGIS and the Management team by his misconduct under the guise of conducting census activities.

“These actions of Mr. Williams present a picture of a fragmented entity within the Institution and/or Census being a parallel organization alongside the LISGIS. Additionally, he also made unilateral decisions on a very important constitutional issue like census without firstly bringing the details to management for discussion and approval,” the LISGIS release also noted.

“He also refused to account for census fuel and scratch cards which amounted to USD$341,925,” LISGIS added.

In the wake of the allegation levied against top management of LISGIS by Mr. G. Alex M. Williams, Deputy Director General for Statistics and Data Processing, an investigation conducted by The Analyst revealed that he was removed as National Census Coordinator for what the management termed as gross misconduct and presenting a picture of a fragmented entity within the institution and /or census being a parallel organization alongside LISGIS.

Further checks by this paper unveiled that he has not been able to make any liquidation report for the period covering July 2021 to March 2022 which amounts to US$341,925.36. The findings of the paper revealed that Mr. Williams is yet to give outstanding documentation of Census Assets amounting to $1,131,137.79 for such items like 27 Toyota Land Cruisers without proper documentation to assignees, no location, 15 Epson projectors without assignee, location, no serial numbers, 15 kama generator 7000E- 5kva diesel without assignee, no location, no serial number, etc. Investigation continues.

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