The Liberian Senate is requesting President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as head of the National Ebola Task Force, to make report to the Senate on how the amount of US$5 million approved for the fight of Ebola was expended.
The Senators’ decision taken Tuesday, September 23, during plenary was prompted by a communication from their colleagues, Senators Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence, Sando Dazoe Johnson and Geraldine Doe-Sherif, requesting for an expenditure report on US$5 million approved two months ago used by the National Ebola Task Force, to help contain the Ebola epidemic.
In proffering the motion for the Senate’s action, Bong County Senator Henry Yallah asked his colleagues’ communication be accepted and recommendations therein be adopted, “and that this plenary requests a report from the President as the head of the Ebola Task Force who requested for the money that was approved by this Senate, of the expenditure of US$5 million by next sitting on Tuesday and that copies be made available to all Senators.”
Earlier before the unanimous vote, the Senators went into debate that lasted for well over three hours, with each Senator giving supporting reasons why the report was needed now.
Maryland County Senator John Ballout, one of the Senators who supported the need for a report and audit, regretted that since the approval of the amount, the situation on containing the disease continues to deteriorate.
“We have to step up to the plate and take charge. Audit is not an attempt to fight the Executive, but rather it will help build confidence among the people who are starting to question the Task Force’s seeming lack of accountability; in fact our power has no limitation in asking for report,” Senator Ballout, who Chairs the Senate Committee on Public Works, asserted.
Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee put up a stiff fight, recalling a portion of President Sirleaf’s letter to the Senate in which she promised the lawmakers that a comprehensive audit would be conducted at the end the process.
He described it as unfair, his colleagues’ communication that is now requesting an expenditure report from the Ebola Task Force, an argument supported by outgoing Grand Gedeh County Senator Isaac Nyenabo, who, too, believe that it was unfair to ask for a report in the middle of the process.
Gbarpolu County Senator Armah Zulu Jallah recalled that during a recent Legislative leadership meeting with the President, she promised to send the report in question to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and not the Senate.
Senators, who confirmed that the President has already sent report on US$5 million to the House of Representatives, enquired from Senate Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley whether he was in possession of same report he answered: “I have not received any report on the US$5 million, nor the Senate.”
Senator Yallah, before proffering his motion, reminded his colleagues that his county, Bong is one of the hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic, disclosing that a town in Bong County has recently reported 13 deaths from Ebola. “We must learn from our past mistake and ensure that we don’t release a dime if the Executive fails to report on the US$5 million.”