The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts and Audit is seeking the support of the Liberian Senate for a change in the procedures and policies under which the Social Development Fund (SDF) operates.
In order to achieve that feat, Senator Edward Dagoseh is recommending that “a County Social Development Trust Fund be set up and its management team be completely professional in order for it to operate without the influence of political stakeholders.”
In a communication to the Senate plenary dated January 15, the Grand Cape Mount County lawmaker asserted that annually, millions of United States dollars are put into the SDF to ensure that affected communities benefit from economic development to mitigate conflict in areas where concession companies operate.
This, Senator Dagoseh intimated, is a substantial amount for community development considering the national budget needs of the country.
Another key concern stated in Senator Dagoseh’s communication is the participation and interference of political actors, such as Legislators and ministers in the administration and implementation of the SDF, which he said conflicts with their respective roles to provide oversight, monitoring, and evaluation.
Consequently, said the PAC Chair, a series of financial, administrative malpractices and political disagreements usually undermine the implementation of targeted projects for affected communities.
Senator Dagoseh lamented that the recent County Development Reports indicate that existing procedures and policies have not attained the proportionate results relating to the purpose of the SDF.
“At present, payment procedures from the SDF to the counties are full of bureaucratic bottlenecks, and in general, financial and operational reports from the counties to the Ministry of Internal Affairs as well as the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning are not given timely consideration thus delaying payments to the counties.”
As a result of this, Senator Dagoseh said the commencement of approved projects are most times delayed and run into the rainy season. The projects are therefore not completed on time, not done according to specifications or are abandoned by contractors.
Except for few, majority of the Senators voted for the set up of an SDF Trust Fund, and a motion proffered by Senator Armah Jallah was passed. The communication was sent to the committees on Internal Affairs; Ways, Means, Finance & Budget; and Lands, Mines and Energy; who are expected to report to plenary within two weeks.