By Socrates S. Saywon – It has been gathered from a highly placed source that misunderstanding is ensuing between the ministries of Finance and Development Planning and Ministry of Education about US$4 million allocated in 2018/2019 National Budget intended to refurbish public schools across the country.
It was alleged by the source that under the 2018/2019 Public Sector Investment Project appropriation, the Ministry of Education was allocated US$4 million for infrastructures improvement and expansion, including the renovation of 33 public schools and refurbishing of 15 science laboratories in secondary schools, including the purchase of 78,000 pieces of chairs for use by public schools across the nation.
With the 2028/19 fiscal years already elapsed, according to the source, there is growing concern as to why no single school is yet to benefit from the exercise as magnified in the 2018/2019 national budget.
It can be recalled, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah commenting on the issue a few months back this year, indicated that the amount was never used for the intended purpose in the 2018/2019 budget disclosing renovation of public schools and science laboratories will be carried out in 2020/21 National Budget.”
Liberia’s Minister of Finance, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr.
Howbeit, a well-placed official at the Ministry of Education who asked for anonymity claimed the Ministry of Education did not receive that amount and the physical condition of schools in and around Monrovia can attest to what he saying.
He said to believe what he saying is to visit the counties and will be astonished that in this time and age, students are still sitting on blocks to acquire knowledge, no decent blackboards, saying: “The learning environment is unfriendly, yet, officials are playing games with the future of the country…”
According to him, MOE is more than prepared to ensure that the Act that established the Ministry is expeditiously carried out, he stressed that the outright refusal by the Ministry of Finance to allow the Ministry of Education to assess its allotment in the 2018/2019 budget is one of the impediments regarding the smooth functions of the Ministry.
When asked whether his Ministry usually requests the Ministry of Finance before accessing its allotment, he answered in the negative, adding, “What is mine should be mine, I do not have to request before getting funds to carry out my statutory functions.”
Notwithstanding, while the issue remains a major concern to some officials of government and ordinary citizens. President George Weah, a few months ago this year, was out in the field visiting public schools allegedly to ascertain whether the learning atmosphere is conducive for school-going kids.
Whether the President’s toured of public schools in and around Monrovia is connected to the controversy surrounding the utilization of the allotted amount remains a conjecture.
While the Ministries of Finance and Education are in a blame-shifting game, it appears that President Weah has even forgotten that he has already allotted US$4illion in the 2018/2019 budget for amongst other things, the refurbishing of public schools and science laboratories as well as the purchase of 78,000 chairs for public schools.
It can be recalled, during the tour of public schools in Monrovia, President Weah again mandated Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah to make available additional 100,000 chairs for public schools and refurbishing the schools.
It can be recalled in 2014 during the emergency of the deadly EBOLA Virus, the European Union donated to Liberia US$13m to aid in the fight against EBOLA, and former Minister of Finance, Amara Mohammed Konneh signed for the money on behalf of the Liberian Government.
A few days later, a war of words ensued between the Ministries of Finance and Health, with former Minister Konneh claiming he gave the amount to the Health Ministry but then Health Minister, Walter Gwanigale refuted the claim and challenged Minister Konneh to prove that his Ministry received the amount.
As Liberians were wondering who was saying the truth, the Unity Party-led government left power on January 22nd, 2018 and that amount is today haunting the current Liberian government for misappropriation…
Meanwhile, all efforts applied to get clarity from both ministries of Finance and Education on the issue did not materialize as Tweah and Sonii deliberately refused to answer to Smart News inquiry. Investigation continues
Main photo: Liberia’s Education Minister, Prof. D. Ansu Sonii