‘MFDP Officials Took Loans with Private Sector Money’

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Citing ‘clear conflict of interest’, Pres. Sirleaf Demands Audit at MFDP

By Alvin Worzi

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday issued a two-week ultimatum to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFPD), demanding an audit of the management of the ministry’s Private Sector Initiative (PSI), meant to empower businesspeople.

The audit, the president said, will cover the period from 2014 up to the present and is being conducted by the Internal Audit Agency (IAA).

Meanwhile, President Sirleaf has also ordered Dr. James Kollie, the commissioner at the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), to return home from a trip abroad to help with the investigation.

The president made the announcement yesterday in a brief radio broadcast, announcing the discovery of a scheme of conflict of interest where officials awarded loans to themselves with money that was set aside to empower Liberian-owned businesses. She instructed Finance Minister Boima Kamara to probe the management of the PSI.

“Kamara revealed some shocking results, which showed that officials at the MFDP were making loans to themselves in violation of the law,” the president said, adding: “While the process is still ongoing, we can say with a high degree of confidence, based on preliminary findings that such a scheme setup at the PSI is clearly a conflict of interest and has to be dealt with the full weight of the law.”

Based on that finding, Madam Sirleaf emphasized, “I have ordered the principal administrator of the program during the audit period, Commissioner of Maritime Affairs James Kollie, to return to Liberia from his official duties to assist during the audit and answer all of the issues associated with it.”

She disclosed that she has instructed “Minister Kamara to have a full report at my office within two weeks, in order to determine further what action is necessary.

“My office remains keen on the matter and will leave no stone unturned to ensure that Liberia’s interest is protected.”

It may be recalled that in 2012, Dr. Kollie served as Deputy Minister of Finance for Revenue at the erstwhile Ministry of Finance, in which capacity he supervised implementation of the country’s revenue and finance law relative to all revenue generating activities including Customs and Excise, Real Property and Internal Revenue. Dr. Kollie also represented the Minister of Finance at negotiations involving fiscal issues relative to revenue generation.

He was later appointed Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs when the MOF merged with the Ministry of Planning and Development, now Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), in 2014.

As Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs (DMFA) of the MFDP, Dr. Kollie was responsible to develop fiscal policy, manage the financial resources of Liberia, develop and administer the financial rules and regulations of the republic, as well as oversee and execute all matters relating to government accounting, including pay, pensions and other allowances.

The duties of the DMFA also include the supervision of matters concerning framing of proposals regarding tax and non-tax revenues and tax reforms as part of fiscal consolidation; to coordinate with and generally perform all such services relative to the management of government finances as may be required by law; the implementation of expenditure proposals of ministries and agencies of government as appropriated in the budget; and to perform other functions as may be assigned by the Minister, as well as imposed by law.

In July 2014, Amara M. Konneh was appointed the first Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), having previously served concurrently as Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs and Minister of Finance from January 2012 to June 2014.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Fire in SOWETO. To Call a government official home from a foreign trip to help with an investigation involving money means a whole lot.

  2. I hope this investigation will get to the bottom. While Dr. James Kollie is recalled home to help with the investigation, all those connected to financial saga should be brought forward to give account of themselves. This kind of syndicate cannot be done by on individual but collective.

  3. President Sirleaf has nobody to blame but herself. The mergers of the Ministry of Planning, the Budget Bureau and the Ministry of Finance were ill advised. Remember the law of GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out). You reap what you sow!

  4. Charley,
    I agree with you 100%, but also the House and Senate are equally to be blame for this merger. you want to tell me these people could not think for the better-men of Liberia to have emerged Planning, the Budget Bureau and Ministry of Finance, to be headed by a single person? It was a bad idea and I hope the next administration could reverse this act. Planning has nothing do with finance, they are only there to plan for the future of the country, and it leave with the House and Senate to implement, the result of their planning, the Ministry of Finance is there mostly to collect revenue for the country and the Budget Bureau is there to present documents to the House and senate for implantation. (example)

  5. Granted that a good number of us have rightfully laid the blame of dysfunctional administrations on our imperial presidency, it is equally true that presidents can’t be held totally responsible for a culture of dishonesty in our society. And that this cancer appears invincible must be attributed to weak public institutions including financial accounting and the criminal justice & judiciary systems.

    That’s why I agree with a New Democrat’s editorial (referenced by Mr. Bai Gbala in theperspectives.org) which lamented the destruction of public institutions. And until we strengthen them, we would continue to make every president our scapegoat for everything never mind that aides blatantly betray their trusts too.

    For instance, public officials who were suspected of fraud or criminal waste under Obama’s presidency faced the consquences from established public institutions. The citizenry didn’t claim it was all his fault. Perhaps, we should heed the take of the “New Democrat” on the destruction of public institutions.

    • So where does the buck stops ? Dr. Jones went the same route and was never accused of embelserment , the kind that leads to institutionalized corruption . Instead he was accused because political jealousy and having political ambition . The program to assist Liberian small businesses was then handed over to that Ministry and no one seems to benefit from that financial program except the President’s trusted Minister . When Dr. Jones and his colleagues at the Central Bank of Liberia operated that , and due to Ebola outbreak which devastated the Liberian economy and also that of small Liberian businesses , the President demanded that the owed should be paid . So will the President demand the same from the Minister ? That is the question to be answered , Sir Moses .

  6. did the present really need to annouce that she was calling Dr. Kollie back to aid the investigation. Couldn’t all this have been done and the findings concluded before announcing anything?

  7. Man Mr. Moses, not when the very President is notoriously known at home and abroad as a very dishonest and corrupt character! Besides, Inputing the corrupt nature and character of of government on society is not only illogical but insulting and dishonest!

    Take for instance the Jerome KORKOYAH’S case in which the very President is playing blind or deaf simply because the violation of the Constitution been committed by Korkoyah is in the interest of the president!

  8. All such reckless and corrupt behavior on the part of government officials can be raced to the pervasive culture of impunity in our dear country. “Okay I killed your ma and so what…Okay I ate government money and so what?” Like her predecessors Presidents Tolbert, Doe and Taylor President has also been found wanting when it comes to dealing with family members and close associates involved in corruption or other acts inimical to the interest of the country. With just a few months left in office it is highly unlikely that she will take the kind of action necessary to deal with violators of the public trust. The fact that President Sirleaf will appoint a convicted criminal Jonathan Fonati Kofa to lead government’s prosecutorial efforts against alleged criminals is not only laughable but also indicative of how seriously she takes the fight against corruption.

  9. What an honest, just, true, and correct assessment! Mr. Stewart! The woman appoints criminals in strategic areas of govt to serve her personal interest then Mr. Moses has the effrontery and temerity to attempt a baseless spin insulting families across the nation.

  10. Doma, that only goes to show how hypocritical, dishonest, malfeasant, and unjust she is! Why the government, with all the resources and instruments of state power to investigate and if warranted fire and prosecute Jerome Korkoyah, is giving credence to this boy disrespecting the very constitution she President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf swore under oath to uphold? She wants to know the truth about loans in days, but she does not mind to appoint a convicted criminal (Jonathan Kofa) as Minister of Justice or minister – prosecutor, and does not give a damn about the NEC chairman being a foreigner and violating the nation’s statutory law and the Constitution!

  11. Dirtay way Ellen get dried face yaa. Da really it “will leave no stone unturned” Rock dem still laying down same place since 12 years ago, da stone? Plz wicked Oma. How many times have we heard dis? What was ur %? No stealing goes on w/o ur aprroval.

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