MOE Dodging US$100K Rental Debt?

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MS. Alpha B. Brownell.jpg

A Liberian architectural engineer, Ms. Alpha B. Brownell, has sounded an urgent call for the Liberian government to settle its rental obligation to her in the sum of US$100,000, owed over a period of seven years.

Ms. Brownell has complained that several letters have been written to the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the General Services Agency (GSA) that her property, located on Carey Street in Monrovia, that houses the J.W. Pearson School under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, has been used for seven years without paying rent.

According to her, her initial engagement with the government started on a rental obligation with the Ministry of Education under former minister Dr. Joseph Korto and continued through those of E. Othello Gongar and Mrs. Etmonia D. Tarpeh.

“Too much of bureaucratic bottleneck at the MOE and GSA has placed me in some kind of predicament that continues to render me financially unable to meet some pressing obligations,” MS. Brownell lamented.

Ms. Brownell also claimed that the MOE has only told her over the years that there had been no allotment for paying rent in their budget.

She also pointed out that the MOE and GSA made endless promises on several occasions that the Liberian government will settle the long overdue rent.

As a retired engineer, she noted that she invested in the said property to assist her in times of critical financial need, such as the current economic depression in Liberia.

“My best alternative to secure my money is by going to court; but such an endeavour requires some money to hire the professional services of a lawyer,” Ms. Brownell asserted, adding that: “At the moment I’m encountering serious financial constraints that cannot permit me to engage the services of a lawyer.”

Brownell intimated that she had a series of meetings with former MOE ministers Korto, Tarpeh and current minister Werner over the rent issue.

She, however, regretted that such encounters have proved fruitless and only ended up in sugar coated promises by both the outgoing ministers and the current Werner administration.

Ms. Brownell disclosed that a law firm has written Minister Werner on the matter, but that said communication has not been responded to.

She, however, clarified that a deputy minister at the MOE has made one attempt to address the ministry’s rental obligation to her, but that it never materialized.

MS. Brownell also said that the GSA has indicated that it cannot sign any lease agreement unless the MOE confirms where the money will be secured.

She further disclosed that five other family members depend on the income generated from the property in question.

MS. Brownell expressed concern that the constant run-around might be a delay tactic to stall payment until the Sirleaf administration makes an exit.

“I’m of the strong conviction that the new Liberian government in 2018 may not be prepared to honor the financial obligation of the outgoing government,” she added.

When contacted on Monday by the Daily Observer to obtain an official comment from the MOE, Public Relations Director Maxwell Bleetan said he was going to verify Ms. Brownell’s claims.

He has, however, not responded, even after repeated reminders to that effect.

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