Liberia: House Summons LISGIS

Lawmakers voted for the summoning of the LISGIS authorities.   

The House of Representatives has unanimously voted to summon the authorities of the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) to appear before the august  body on June 7 to  discuss an alleged misapplication of “census  money.”

The lawmakers also voted to turn plenary into a committee  of a whole for the singular purpose of probing the ‘Census  House’ as well as discuss the conduct of the long-awaited census, including the changes of the date and challenges that might require their intervention in the conduct of the national census.

The Plenary’s decision came as a result of a motion for reconsideration from Grand Bassa County District  #4 Representative Vincent T.H. Willie, against Plenary’s decision to forward Montserrado District  #11 Rep. Richard Koon's communication into committee room and to report  in two weeks.

It may be recalled, Rep. Koon sought the indulgence of his colleagues to have LISGIS invited, in line with the House’s Legislature oversight responsibilities contained in Article 29 to 49 of the 1986 Constitution.

In Rep. Koon’s communication, he told plenary that over the past weeks, while the Legislature was on its break, there was an allegation of fraud circulating from one media institution to another about the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-information Services (LISGIS) which, he said, if not investigated properly, has the propensity to derail and hamper the upcoming Census already legislated by that august body. 

He said the aforementioned Census, having been postponed twice by (LISGIS) and with the looming misappropriation allegations, if care is not taken, the pending census slated for this year will be a fiasco.

According to the Montserrado County District #11 Lawmaker, the National Census Project Coordinator at Liberia Institute of Statistics & Geo-Information Services, G. Alex M. Williams, told the public that some senior Administrators of LISGIS tampered with Government funds responsible to incorporate donors’ support for the upcoming census.

He informed his colleagues that it was alleged by Coordinator Williams that out of US$1.8 million deposited into the account of LISGIS by GOL, Management could only account for US$700,000 to UNFPA, prompting international partners to withhold their support for the upcoming census. 

The census is expected to, among other things, assess population growth. Getting the count right will help ensure that the districts and counties would receive developmental packages and accurate and proportional representation in the House of Representatives.

LISGIS has so far received 21,000 tablets and power banks from the Ghana Statistical Service for the conduct of the main enumeration phase of the 2022 census. The equipment is intended for data collection, which includes Installation of Maps, Geo-codes, and other important software.”

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, through LISGIS, said it has paid US$3 million into the Census Basket Fund, managed by UNFPA.