A letter addressed to the Senate Pro Tempore, Gbehzohngar Findley, and his colleagues has raised alarm over US$1.75 million that has allegedly gone unaccounted for from the 2011/2012 national budget.
Written by Senator George T. Tengbeh, Junior Senator of Lofa County, the communication asked for a full investigation into what he termed the “misappropriation” of US$1,750,320.
The amount was said to have been set aside for car washing under a "Fleet Management Policy"; but according to Senator Tengbeh, thanks to an investigation, "no carwash in the Republic of Liberia has received said amount.”
Senator Tengbeh’s letter read: “During the recess period, lots of issues were identified which claimed our attention. One of these issues is the alleged "misappropriation" of US$1,750,320 of the 2011/2012 budget that was said to have been given for car washing under the Fleet Management Policy. Our investigation revealed that no car wash in this country received such an amount.”
He concluded: “In view of the above, distinguished colleagues, we request a full investigation into the matter to determine the whereabouts of this amount.”
In reaction, Senator Isaac Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh intervened to point out that the organ that deals with misappropriations in the Chamber is the Public Accounts Committee:
“…in [the] case of misapplication of items, the Ways, Means and Finance Committee comes [in]to play for inquiry and investigation. This communication talks about misappropriation; and the constitutional committee [concerned] is the Public Accounts Committee,” Nyenabo explained.
The Grand Gedeh County Senior Senator then suggested that plenary dispatch the letter to the right committee.
But in their reaction, some members of that august body observed that the name given the communication was incorrect; that instead of "misappropriation", which would require reference to the Public Accounts Committee, the Senator should have used the word “misapplied.”
The Senate, at only its second day sitting, refused to act on the communication from Senator Tengbeh until it was rewritten and re-phrased.
Amid the controversy, the presiding officer of Thursday’s plenary, President of the Senate and Vice President of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai, decided to end the debate. Describing Tengbeh's communication as a serious matter, Boakai called for contact with the author of the letter.
Following a few minutes of dialogue with VP Boakai, Senator Tengbeh agreed with his colleagues that the word "misappropriation" should be replaced with "misapplied.”
Given the final decision, presiding officer Boakai ordered the communication withdrawn and rewritten to address the actual intent. That decision was unanimously agreed to.
The verbage of the communication has now been downgraded to “misapplication" with the consent of the author.
(Editor's Note: This story has been edited from its original version to include the necessary corrections. We thank our readers for their observations.)