‘Irresponsible, Uninformed’

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has described as “irresponsible and uninformed” allegations by Rep. Bhofal Chambers that the Unity party-led government of President Sirleaf invested huge amounts of state resources into public relations intended to promote the regime.
 
The House is probing a US$260 million dollar public relations allegation brought before it  by the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) lawmaker.
 
But on Tuesday, President Sirleaf confirmed her government’s consistent spending on “international public relations,” in a letter addressed to the House of Representatives.

The President confirmed Chambers’ allegation of investment in foreign public relations but was quick to note that her government’s spending for that purpose amounts to some US$52,601 per annum from 2007 to 2013, a total of US$368,209 over the last six years — a sharp contradiction to the multi-million dollar figure announced by the Maryland County representative.

“I am compelled to bring to your attention the case involving the potentially great harm that Liberians may suffer as a result of the statement made by Maryland Representative Bhofal Chambers regarding an irresponsible and uninformed media report that Liberia spends US$200 million in lobbying fees. It is simply preposterous to believe that with a budget under US$600 million and our transparent and accountable financial system, we could spend such an amount," Madam Sirleaf asserted.

"Liberia’s Ambassador [to the United States], Jeremiah Sulumteh, has confirmed the concerns expressed by our good friends and supporters in the U.S. Congress who may believe that a statement made by a Legislator has to have been verified as a fact,” informed lawmakers.

The Unity Party political leader called Chambers' allegations “dirty politics which will end up hurting the country at large.”

The Executive Mansion added that all international public relations instituted by government only considered one firm, KRL International for which all the PR funds were channeled.

The Liberia Maritime Authority, the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) were invited to the Capitol Building for hearings on Chambers’ allegation, although LISCR failed to appear before the committee investigating the matter.

Chambers recently confirmed the appearance of these agencies for hearings, alleging that; “The three agencies admitted to being the frontrunners for selling government’s image to the international press.

To the contrary, however, Madam Sirleaf stated that “The Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs is the only agency leading said cause.”

Chambers immediately responded to the President’s letter with anger and dismay after it was read in open session on Tuesday.

The President and Chambers, in recent times, had openly reconciled their political differences during the celebration of Liberia’s decade of peace. 

Chambers, however, has since dismissed that unity meeting as “cosmetic.”

With these new claims and counter-claims, Liberians are eager to ascertain fact from fiction, a concerned Liberian said. “Whatever money it was, we think that money should have been shifted to other basic necessities for ordinary Liberians.”

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