The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah has blamed poor compliance posture among government entities for some of the failures in the administration of President George Weah.
Minister Tweah added that respect for rules of law and regulations by all government entities, particularly compliance to public procurement regulations is essential for good governance.
“We are failing because you do not respect compliance regulations. People are failing to adhere to what they ought to do," disclosed Min. Tweah at the third annual forum on Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC). “This is causing us to lose tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars from the World Bank, and other international partners. We are not passing the good governance indicators."
Min. Tweah added that it is a prayer that compliance to PPCC regulations remains the order of the day, rather than circumventing the law for personal and selfish interests.
“From now on, let your bosses know that the procedural considerations are more important than the physical structures. If your boss wants to give you a hard time, cite me as the Minister of Finance. Procurement officers are responsible to do the right things for our governance process to become perfect,” he mentioned.
Minister Tweah’s call came at a time when Liberia has failed the Millennium Compact Challenge (MCC), an American donor funding platform for countries scoring good grades in governance, security, health, education, human rights as well as freedom of the press and free speech. The MCC is something that the former ruling Unity Party (UP) under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won many times over the years before the coming into power of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
As head of the fiscal arm of the government, Tweah assured the PPCC that he will not honor any payment request from any government entity for procurement purposes unless a letter of ‘No Objection’ is received from the Commission (PPCC).
“I promise that my office will not betray this. Once a ministry or agency does not meet your procedures as set in the law of the Procurement Act of 2010, my office will not disburse any money to that entity. The President wants it that way and he is interested in getting pass scores, so we can attract money for more national development,” he told his audience.
He reiterated that the reason the CDC government has not passed the MCC and other good governance indicators is that the right things are not happening at many line ministries and agencies.
“Those who are supposed to produce data from the works carried out by certain ministries or agencies are not doing their job. They are relaxed and care less about the image of the country. All that matters to a number of them are their salaries and benefits. But everything will change. If it is about someone losing his or her job only to have the right numbers, we will do so,” Tweah assured.
He urged government entities to do away with the ‘Liberian way’ of doing things and focused on producing results that will get the country on par with other countries that are fast-moving in their development strides. The Finance Minister is not the only government official who has said that officials of the government will lose their jobs for not doing the right thing so that the Weah administration can pass the governance indicators.
Nathaniel McGill, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, recently mentioned that government officials could lose their jobs because of their lack of satisfactory work to allow the government to attract funds for development purposes.
Minister Tweah then disclosed that the President of the United States, Joe Biden has invited President George Weah to attend the governance conference because positive signs are being shown by this administration. However, he noted that for the country to access any funds, line ministries and agencies must adhere to compliance regulations, mainly as regards the procurement of goods and services.
“The Biden administration is rating countries based on their governance successes,” Tweah added. “Our President has been invited by President Joe Biden. To get a close relationship in Biden's administration, we have to show significant improvement in governance.”
Meanwhile, Tweah has disclosed that the World Bank has removed the country from its fragile list because it has attained three points, a passing grade set by the World Bank for good governance.
“We were at 2.9 points and recently we managed to reach 3 points. This milestone is bringing us US$20 million. Imagine what it will mean if we strive and attain at least 3.2 or more. With the highest mark set at 6 points, we will gain more for the country from the World once we all do what is right,” he noted.
However, it is not clear as to whether the amount mentioned by the Finance Minister is a loan or a grant from the World Bank, but he confidently said that for every progress made in good governance, there are monetary benefits.
The Minister said the highest mark any West African country has reached on the World Bank scale is 3.2 points, something he believes Liberia can achieve, but only through fairness, and respect for compliance regulations. Also speaking, PPCC executive director, Roseline Jargbe Nagbe Kowo, said many institutions are not complying with her office when it comes to following the procedures on procurement.
She said that lots of ministries and agencies are yet to appreciate compliance with the rule of law.
For his part, Tebeh Glay, director of procurement at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said the procurement departments of government agencies and Ministries are not doing their job as they should, due to their bosses’ interferences.
“We are not respected. Our bosses, I mean ministers, managers, and directors do not listen to us and they don’t care about procedures. This is why things are going on as they are going on,” Glay said as the audience applauded.
She pointed out that most bosses are always in a hurry to get things done, thereby having total disregard for compliance with the regulations of public procurement.