Liberia: Specialized Committee to Probe Road Funds
Following weeks of delay, the Liberian Senate has finally reached a decision to probe monies collected by the government in road fund taxes.
The National Road Fund Institute was established during the last days of the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The institution collects, through petroleum importing agents, levies on each gallon of petroleum product sold to motorists, with said amount deposited in an escrow account.
However, it was reported that some agencies involved in the collection of the taxes either defaulted in depositing their collections, or misapplied said taxes.
In 2019, during the early days of President George Manneh Weah’s regime, a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court, Cllr. Kabinneh Ja’neh was tried by the Senate and subsequently impeached, for reportedly placing a hold on further payment of road funds and/or disbursements.
Yesterday’s plenary decision was predicated on a communication from Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, informing the plenary that it has been five years since she expressed concerns over the payment of arrears due the road fund, and that on countless occasions, she has appealed to the plenary through communication, debates, and different hearings for the proper report on the collection of arrears and usage of the road funds.
The report, according to the Grand Bassa County lawmaker, should be accompanied by a plan to accommodate the rural road rehabilitation.
The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Rules, Order, and Administration, informed the plenary that, considering road construction as a priority, it is therefore unthinkable that payments of these arrears have yet to be made.
It can be recalled that the Grand Bassa County Lawmaker appealed to the plenary during the budget debate to include in the national budget additional revenue projections for the national road funds by capturing the collection of the outstanding amount from the importers, but there have been no updates or reports on collections or work done so far.
Meanwhile, members of the specialized committee include Senators Henrique F. Tokpa of Bong County as chairman, with Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, Abraham Darius Dillion of Montserrado County, Numene T. H. Bartekwa of Grand Kru County, and J. Emmauel Nuquay of Margibi County as members.
The National Road Fund, whose helm is a tenure position, is currently headed by Mr. Boniface Satu.