The House Plenary has asked its Committee on Youth and Sports to investigate renovation works on and the status of the Tumutu Training Center (TTC) in Salala District, Bong County, after a payout of US$760,000.
The seven-person Committee, chaired by Montserrado County District#11 Representative Gabriel Nyenkan, was mandated to report its findings to Plenary within two weeks beginning last Tuesday, February 28.
The decision to probe the renovation works and status of the TTC resulted from a complaint by Bong County District #6 Representative Adam Bill Corneh, who reported that the appalling Tumutu structure, the largest vocational and technical training center in Bong County, has upset the citizens, considering the huge budgetary allotment approved for the renovation, expansion and upgrading of the center.
The Bong lawmaker told his colleagues in Chambers that US$760,000 was allotted in two separate fiscal years to renovate TTC, which is yet to be completed.
He disclosed that in the 2014/2015 Fiscal Budget, the amount of US$450,000 was allotted, while US$310,000 was allotted in the 2015/2016 Fiscal Budget.
“The allotments are not only to renovate the TTC, but also to carry out some expansion in providing an environment where the residents can be trained and have access to services,” Rep. Corneh said.
According to him, the TTC was supposed to be upgraded to the Tumutu Agriculture Vocational Training Center level, and was to be a tuition-free boarding institution that would serve about 200 youth from Bong, Margibi and Lofa counties. It is envisioned that the youth will receive practical instruction and theory studies in general agriculture including vegetable, food crop and tree crop production and animal husbandry such as piggery, poultry and fishery.
“In fulfillment of our oversight responsibility, we thought to have fairly evaluated the renovation and expansion project and matched it against the size of the allotment being made in the National Budget, but our findings reveal that the worth of the entire project is disproportionate to the huge budgetary allotment,” Rep. Corneh said.
In a letter to House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, which was read in Tuesday’s session, Rep. Corneh said several letters were written to Youth and Sports Minister Saah Charles N’Tow asking him to provide explanations on the state of the project as well as a comprehensive expenditure report to justify the fair usage of the money.
“He (Minister N’Tow) has constantly refused to recognize this constitutional authority given me through the popular mandate of the people,” Rep. Corneh said.
In view of the minister’s refusal, Rep. Corneh requested that Saah Charles N’Tow be invited to appear before the House to explain how the TTC allotment is being used along with an expenditure report.
The TTC was one of the pivotal agricultural training sites for young people and those interested in agriculture before the outbreak of the Liberian civil war. Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties, before the civil war, produced most of the nation’s food, with Lofa County referred to as the “Nation’s Breadbasket,” in the 1980s.