Senate Receives US$5M Ebola Fund Report

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Following days of debates calling on the National Task Force on Ebola to report on how US$5 million which that body approved for use in the fight to contain Ebola, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who chairs the task force, Thursday, September 25, presented to the Senate an expenditure report covering the month of August.

The President’s communication came hours after the Senate plenary had voted unanimously requesting the Ebola Task Force to make report to that body on how the amount of US$5 million approved for the fight of Ebola was expended.

According to the communication dated September 22, 2014, addressed to the President, Pro Tempore of the Senate Gbehzohngar Findley, President Sirleaf said the report is the first covering up to date deposits and disbursement through the Ebola Trust Fund.

Her communication also submitted a three-month budget covering August-October, which she said was received from several implementing agencies with responsibility for the national response to the anti-Ebola fight.

President Sirleaf firstly spelled out in her letter that during the three months, the implementing agencies’ budget as requested, will be US$34,820.98.

According to individual implementing agency budget for the three months, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare submitted a budget of US$29,283.57 which will be used for health related inventions; Ministry of National Defense, for its lead on national security and support to quarantine will receive US$1,057.08; the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization gets US$432. 20 for enforcement of border control; Liberia National Police budget for enforcing rule of law and support quarantine is US$1,721.78; the Ministry of State will receive US$320.000 for community water kiosks/outreach; Ministry of Internal Affairs gets US$1,114.21 for lead on burial/cremation and community engagement; for communication dissemination, Ministry of Information receives US$550,000; the Program Management (Command Center), and the Ministry of Gender and Development are budgeted for US$300,000, and US$33,014 respectively.

After a month of implementation, President Sirleaf informed the lawmakers that approximately US$4.7 million was disbursed to the various implementing agencies against their budgets submitted, leaving an undisbursed balance of approximately US$1,069,094.91.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare received US$2,882,000.96; Ministry of Defense US$352,000.36; BIN received US$357,000.45; LNP US$346,000.32; Ministry of State received US$130,000; Ministry of Internal Affairs US$484,000.98; Ministry of Information received US$17,000.50, while the Program Management Command Center received US$100,000 the Ministry of Gender is yet to receive allotment, bringing the total expenditure to US$4,668,003.57.

In her letter, President Sirleaf displayed a requested expenditure for September 2014, which she said is subject to evaluation, at US$5 million with the same implementing agencies as beneficiaries.

The National Task Force leader informed the Senate that towards meeting the needs of the implementing agencies, a total of US$5,737,098.48 consisting of US$5,624,250 and L$9,400,000 was paid into the Ebola Trust Fund as donations from the government (US$5M), individuals and organizations.

Among the highest donors to the Ebola Fund, according to President Sirleaf’s communication, are the Central Bank of Liberia, US$100,000; National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), US$150,000; CGC (Chinese Company), US$100,000; Tony Elumelu, US$100,000; LPRC, US$75,000; and CEMENCO, US$25,000, among several individuals and organizations.

From the three months budget submitted by implementing agencies, President Sirleaf said the emergency request of US$20 million based on an initial assessment by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is inadequate to the fund response efforts.

“We must therefore intensify our resource mobilization efforts both locally and internationally to secure funding for national response. Towards this end, we have begun engagement with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund…A more comprehensive report which captures the totality of support will be prepared.”

President Sirleaf pointed out that with regards to accountability, the entities to which disbursement have been made are responsible to ensure that funds are used for the purpose detailed in their strategies and budgets. “They are to observe financial rules as much as possible without prejudice to the need for flexibility in procurement rule due to the urgency involved.”

Additionally, she said a staff of the Internal Audit Agency works with the Finance Team, and the General Auditing Commission has provided input to facilitate post transaction audits.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Senate was requested to make copies of four-page communication and distribute them among the various Senators for deliberation on Tuesday ensuing.­ 

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