The citizens of Nimba County, at the close of the County Council Sitting, have resolved to use about US$3.6 million for the fiscal year 2015/2016, prioritizing road developments around the county.
In the resolution signed by all the 117 delegates, including chiefs, the council members gave priority attention to road development, the most affected communities and education. In the resolution, US$1.7m was allotted for road development, US$600,000 for most affected communities, while about US$325,000 was allotted for education, including financial aid to Nimba university students, and incentives to various colleges and universities.
The benefiting institutions of higher learning include the African Bible College University in Yekepa, the Nimba County Community College and Liberia International Christian College in Ganta.
Other allotments cover the youth project, US$21,000, women, US$30,000, the disabled community, US$20,000, and Nimba Community Radio project, US$30,000. Allotments for sports, US$60, 000, and Ganta United Methodist Hospital, US$20,000 were also announced while about US$273,000 went to local government administrative costs, including paramount chiefs, township commissioners, administrative district commissioners, city mayors as well as the county leadership.
Most of the beneficiaries have an outstanding with the county from the 2013/2014 budget, which was not released by the government up until the Ebola outbreak.
For example, the Nimba County Community College has an outstanding uncollected balance of about US$80,000 from the 2013/2014 budget and the recent allotment of US$70,000, will bringing the arrears due the county to US$150,000.
Nimba County receives US$1.5 million annually from Arcelor Mittal Social Development Funds and US$200, 000 from the government as county development funds, but the bulk of the money is yet to be released by the government, according to county officials.
They told the Daily Observer that the Liberian government owed Nimba County over US$6 million from the social development funds, along with funds from concessions operating in the county.
With the projection of this budget, the citizens are still murmuring as to whether the amount will be released by the government to fully implement development projects, as resolved by Nimbaians at the recent county sitting.
Last year, citizens of the most affected communities staged a violent demonstration in and around Yekepa, vandalizing facilities at Mount Tokadeh.
The citizens had constantly complained about the lack of safe drinking water, school and healthcare facilities, among others despite huge exploitation of mineral resources from their communities, the Daily Observer learned.
The social development fund does not go directly to the account of the counties; rather it goes through the government account before it is at last released to the county, officials told the Daily Observer.