Deputy House Speaker Hans Barchue has described as “nonsense” the Finance Ministry's counter argument relative to US$5 million allotted for district development.
The money was placed in the National Budget for direct district development projects affecting the entire country.
Deputy Speaker Barchue had earlier on accused the Ministry of Finance of playing politics with the money, thereby denying rural dwellers the right to delivery of basic social services.
He blamed the Finance Ministry for creating unnecessary delay in the implementation of the identified projects.
However, reacting to Deputy Speaker Barchue’s claims, the Deputy Finance Minister for Budget, Sebastian Muah, confirmed that the money was on “ice” because of the present budget shortfall that the nation is experiencing.
Muah: “Due to the budget Shortfall, the money had to be diverted to other meaningful undertakings of the government.
He said the money had nothing to do with the lawmakers because the Constitution does not give them expending power.
For the last two years, said Deputy Minister Muah, the Liberian Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), which Mr. Bachue said was responsible for implementing development projects, “had not shown a single project that it has completely done with thousands of dollars that it had received from the Ministry of Finance.
“Should we just be spending money when we can’t see any meaningful thing that has been done with the money?” Min. Muah asked.
In response, Rep. Barchue described Muah’s assertions as “nonsense and a joke.”
In serious laughter, he told reporters yesterday at his Capitol Building office that the Finance Ministry team did not know the real issues.
Accompanied by House Speaker J. Alex Tyler, the Grand Bassa County lawmaker declared, “When we get ready for them to account for that money we will call them here.”
Asked as to when the public expects to witness the appearance of the Finance Ministry team and what is next for the money, Deputy Speaker Barchue stressed that both houses of the legislature attached serious concern to district development and such allotment remains vital to the process.