Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah has recounted the dire plight of the Liberian people, especially those living in rural parts of the country, and expressed the government’s commitment to improve their living standards. He was speaking when he and other senior officials gave out checks totaling US$3.1 million to the county caucuses of Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa as part of social development funds from ArcelorMittal.
Minister Tweah said the disbursement of the money represents a “clean break from the past” when funds meant for social development purposes were not totally disbursed to the counties. He said this was due in part to the centralization of the government’s revenue, which included monies from concessionaires. He said the practice made it difficult to pay out the funds in full to the counties. But, according to the Finance Minister, President George M. Weah has put an end to the practice and instructed that the counties be paid promptly in order to finance their development needs.
Also speaking at the occasion, Information Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe said the government is under obligation to disburse the funds that it collects under the Mineral Development Agreements with major concession companies – which require them to allocate funds for development purposes in their concession areas. But he acknowledged that this has not worked out as planned, saying that today’s payment represents a milestone.
Receiving the checks on behalf of their individual counties, the lawmakers thanked the President for “living up to the commitment” he made with the caucuses of the counties. Nimba County Representative Johnson Gwaikolo explained that they were assured by the President that once the funds were received, he would instruct the Finance Minister to make immediate disbursement to the counties.
“With this money, Nimba is placed in a better position to work with citizens of the county in order to ensure that the social benefits of these funds are realized”, Rep. Gwaikolo said. Also expressing his gratitude to the President, Bong County’s Marvin Cole said a “leader that has greater responsibility and vision for his people will always deliver in these difficult times”.
Of the total amount disbursed, Nimba county received US$1.55 million, Grand Bassa US$1.02 million and Bong US$527,000, representing their respective SDF shares of 50 percent, 33.3 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively.