Liberia: Bong – Wasteful Spending of Development Fund
Gbarnga Bong County — Two civil society organizations in Bong County are expressing serious concern over what they called wasteful spending of the county development fund.
Speaking to our Bong County correspondent, the Foundation for International Development and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission said that documents in their possession which include bank statements have established that most of the county’s activities which funding were approved for during the county council sitting are not getting financial support.
The heads of the two groups, Aaron Juakollie and Jessie Cole said the leadership of the county was now using money on individuals instead of projects that were approved during the county development council sitting in November last year.
Juakollie and Cole told our correspondent that the bank statement revealed that the county used US$3000 to repair Representative Prince Moye’s vehicle; US$6000 to repair the Development Superintendent’s vehicle; and US$1100 for movement of GAC auditors.
The two rights group heads also accused the County Project Management Committee Chairperson Lawrence Plator of signing a voucher as both Chairperson and Treasurer of the PMC, an act which according to them contravenes the spending of the county development fund.
The FIND and CJPC Bong County bosses further revealed that the county’s legislative received US$4000 to purchase gasoline for their vehicles during a meeting with some religious leaders in Gbarnga and US$5000 for sitting fees during a meeting in Kpatawee, Suakoko District.
Juakollie and Cole believed that such spending are outside the resolution and called on the county leadership to replace the monies.
When contacted, Representative Prince Moye said although the money was used to repair his vehicle, it was sent to the account of the entity that repaired the vehicle and not his personal account. Moye said the decision to repair his vehicle was taken by his colleagues and not him as an individual relaying that his vehicle was hit by the County’s Superintendent vehicle during a trip to Nimba County at the peak of National County meet in December last year.
When contacted to comment on the claims of the two rights groups, the County Project Management Committee Chairperson Lawrence Plator denied ever signing documents as treasurer of the Project Management Committee.
Plator said that the documents in circulation by FIND and the CJPC were being processed when they were stolen from the PMC office. Plator argued that the documents were their financial statements and not bank statements as claimed by Juakollie and Cole. The CPMC chairperson also said that he had never written his name on financial documents but rather signed them to curtail theft in the CPMC.
Presenting a copy of what he called the original copy of the voucher to our Bong County correspondent, Plator said Aaron Juakollie and Jessie Cole have no experience in interpreting financial documents and warned the FIND and CJPC Bong County bosses to stop misleading the public.
Plator said the US$1100 that the two rights groups claimed was given to the GAC auditors was rather used by the Project Management Committee to purchase gasoline for the PMC vehicle to facilitate its staffers’ travel with the auditors to various project sites in the county.
The public display of the documents by the two rights groups has sparked debates across the county with some citizens expressing total disappointment in the leadership of the county. A local palm wine dealer in Kollie-ta, Wolah Gorpue Marteh and motorcyclist Paul Gbemee told the Analyst they were worried over the decision of the caucus to allot money to themselves when several projects are currently at a standstill in the county.
“We have been told that our children in Cuttington and other institutions of higher learning may not go to school this semester because no money is available, but they are taking the money to buy gas for their cars despite government giving them gasoline,” said Gorpue Marteh.
Members of the public in the county have joined FIND and CJPC calling on the county leadership to replace the monies and demand an audit of the development fund be conducted.