The Liberian Senate has authorized its Secretary, J. Nanborlor F. Sengbeh, to cite both the Executive Director of the Liberian Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) and the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to appear before Senate plenary on Tuesday, October 31, at 1:00 p.m.
The citation of the two officials was prompted by a letter from Grand Kru County Senator Albert Tugbe Chie in which he cited difficulties the lawmakers are encountering to obtain accurate information from the Liberian Agency for Community Empowerment on the status of ongoing and proposed projects that are being implemented on their behalf.
Senator Chie, who chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, said “The various assessments of the program have reported unfavorably, with citations ranging from abandoned projects, payments to contractors in contravention of the terms of their contracts, to failure of LACE to effectively monitor projects.”
According to the outspoken lawmaker, the numerous abandoned legislative projects, poor quality and low standard structures, snail-paced projects continue to mar the image of Legislators, and are some of the factors which contributed to the poor performance of the majority of Legislators seeking re-election. He disclosed that the special Senate Committee charged with liaising with LACE quite often finds it extremely difficult to obtain accurate information from the agency.
To redeem them from what he termed “this precarious situation,” Senator Chie requested that an invitation be extended to the Executive Director of LACE and the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to appear before the Senate, in Executive Session, “to give an update on ongoing and planned projects for Senators and associated funding inflow from the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning for the fiscal periods: 2014-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
During the debate that followed and prompted the invitation of the two officials, Senators present narrated the level of frustration they go through explaining to citizens why white elephants and incomplete projects linger in their respective communities.
Lofa County Senator and chairman of the Committee on Defense, Intelligence, Security & Veteran Affairs, Stephen Zargo, specifically pointed out that LACE has been selective in the implementation of projects, giving preference to certain counties against the mandate and terms of the contracts. “If this trend continues, we will be left with no alternative, but request that another entity be selected to replace LACE,” he said.
Senators Joseph Nagbe, George Tengbeh and others agreed something urgent must be done. The chair of Autonomous Commission & Agencies, Sen. Jonathan Kaipay, informed plenary that four months ago his committee wrote LACE seeking a comprehensive report on project implementations, but is yet to receive said report.
In another development, the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday recommended the confirmation of Richelieu A. Williams, Ambassador-designate to the Kingdom of Morocco, and Jeff Dwana, Ambassador-designate to the State of Kuwait.