The Liberian Senate has voted unanimously to order the Ministers of Finance and Internal Affairs to withdraw communications requesting superintendents to move all County Development Funds (CDF) accounts to the Central Bank of Liberia.
“The instructions from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Internal Affairs that Social Development Funds and County Development Funds be deposited at the Central Bank of Liberia, runs contrary to Section 9(a) of the Budget Law,” said Senator Varney G. Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County and Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Sen. Sherman added, “I move that the Senate adopts a resolution that orders the heads of the two agencies to revoke that instruction, under penalty of contempt.”
The decision of the Senate to endorse Sen. Sherman’s motion came as a result of a 2021 communication from Maryland County Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown. In his communication, Sen. Brown informed his colleague that the Ministry of Internal Affairs had instructed County Superintendents to close all existing accounts with commercial banks, and move it to the CBL.
According to Sen. Brown, the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ action was predicated upon communication from the Ministry of Finance under the signature of the Comptroller General of Liberia.
“The opening of the County Accounts at the commercial banks was authorized by the Budget Law of Liberia for the smooth implementation of County and Social Development Funds.
“Section 9(a) of the Budget Law states that: “for the purpose of managing and controlling the County Development Funds and Social Development Funds, each county shall establish and manage, at a local bank, a County Account in the name of the county,” added Sen. Brown, who once served as Superintendent of Maryland County.
Sen. Brown furthered that Section 9 of the Budget Law clearly spells out the criteria, modalities, and controlled measures for the management and operations of the County Development Accounts, as such, the ministers’ actions are wrong and misplace.
Sen. Brown, who currently chairs the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, viewed the mandate by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Comptroller General for the closure of the County Accounts is a clear violation of the Budget Law of Liberia.
Senator Brown further warned that the plan by the two ministries to move all county accounts to the Central Bank of Liberia will undermine decentralized service delivery as envisaged by the Local Government Act, and pose serious impediments to the smooth implementation of the County Accounts and Social Development Funds.
“Considering this adverse impact and the violation of the Budget Law, I request the plenary to instruct the Secretary of the Senate to write the Minister of Internal Affairs to rescind their decision to close County Accounts being held with commercial banks,” Sen. Brown said.
The County and Social Development Funds were established during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and it may be recalled that some county superintendents were found wanting for the misuse and/or misapplication of those funds.