Senators Rebuke Prof. Wilson Tarpeh

6
898
Outgoing Commerce Minister, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, before the Senate to explain discrepancies in the COVID-19 Food Distribution exercise.

— As Prof. Tarpeh shifts blame on LISGIS

Some members of the Liberian Senate have rebuked the former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, for the slow distribution of food items funded by the government COVID-19 Household Food Support Program.

The COHFSP program is a US$30 million food support initiative by the government, comprising the cost of the food basket comprising rice, beans, and vegetable oil, as well as costs of storing, transporting, and delivering the assistance to vulnerable households targeted through this program.

Prof. Tarpeh, who was recently transferred from Minister of Commerce and Industry to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was heavily criticized on Wednesday during a senate appearance to provide updates on the food distribution has the head of the COHFSP Steering Committee.

The senators, including Varney Sherman and Abe Darius Dillon, of Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado Counties, respectively, expressed disappointment in the failure in Prof. Tarpeh and his committee in the ability to fast-track the food distributions process.

Sen. Sherman, in a strong-worded remark, accused the former Commerce and Industry Minister of using flimsy excuses as a means of covering up his team’s poor performance that is hurting the most vulnerable Liberians who need the food support.

“We gave you US$25 million, plus World Bank US$5 for the program and yet, everything you are saying is on obstacles. I am [totally] disappointed in your government. It makes us wonder whether our money has been properly spent.  I am [also] completely disappointed in the performance of your committee. Our people may be dying but you do not know because you have not been there. We know how bad these roads are, that [is] why we give you the money to solve the problem,” Sen. Sherman said.

Sen. Sherman further lamented that since the start of the food distribution program five months ago, not a single bag of rice or oil has gone to the people of Grand Cape Mount County, especially in such a difficult time.

“We gave you US$25 million, plus World Bank US$5 for the program and yet, everything you are saying is on obstacles,” Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney G. Sherman told Minister Tarpeh.

Sen. Sherman also blasted Prof. Tarpeh for blaming road conditions for the delay in reaching his (Sherman’s) constituents with their just and due benefits.

“What kind of difficulties [did] you have that I did not experience when I toured the county recently?  The trucks are traveling on the road, the one you call a bad road. [But] not a single bag of rice has gone to my county, neither oil nor beans. I do not accept your report,” Sen. Sherman said angrily.

In support, Sen. Dillon chided Prof. Tarpeh for submitting a report that lacks detailed explanations on the entire US$14,881,46.00 spent so far on the purchase of food items.

According to Sen. Dillon, the reports also contain integrity issues due to the fact that the World Food Program started the food distribution before signing a memorandum of understanding with the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) for the household enumeration exercise.

“I am disappointed in your committee and the reports you submitted. The report itself is not detailed. It does not provide any financial breakdown of the money spent.  Furthermore, WFP started the food distribution on May 23, according to the report, and on June 4 later signed a memorandum of understanding with LISGIS.

 “[It is sad] that the WFP, which has been contracted by the government, is contracting government entity to do the work, which they were contracted to do,” Sen. Dillon said. He also claimed that the food distribution is now being used as a “political campaign to win Montserrado” County, which explains why, he noted, none of the other counties has received their distributions.

However, in response to the senators’ outbursts, Prof. Tarpeh blamed LISGIS for the slow pace of the food distribution process. He noted that the slow pace of the food distribution process is due to the failure of LISGIS to adequately perform the enumeration task awarded the institution.

Prof. Tarpeh added that as a result of LISGIS actions, the WFP is experiencing a delay in distribution.

“We have had a serious challenge with the enumeration exercise. The data LISGIS give us, is incomplete. You know, at the start of the program, the steering committee decided to hire the service of LISGIS, which is the government institution responsible for statistics to carry out the enumeration exercise.

“Unfortunately, the challenge of LISGIS was so served that they were not able to comply with the level of work need to accelerate the food distribution process,” Prof. Tarpeh explained yesterday during an appearance at the Senate to provide Update on the program.

Prof. Tarpeh, through a report, informed the Liberian Senators that from the months of May to September, the committee and WFP have fed an estimated 2.5 million people, who mostly live in Montserrado County.

The report from the former Commerce Minister revealed that the 2.5 million people represent only five percent of the total number of households that have received the food out of the country’s population of approximately 5.5 million people.

“I do not intend to shy away from the responsibility, but is it important to inform this august body that the steering committee of the food program is a policy committee to direct it. Its entire operation was consigned to the WFP. At the steering committee, we are not happy with the level of performance but it is due to challenges.

“The level of performance is not at the level we want it.  This is the result of numerous difficulties including numerous issues. The quality of the data we got from LISGIS was not enough,” he said.

However, after shifting blame, Prof. Tarpeh added that his committee takes full responsibility for the slow pace of the food distribution process as the report submitted to the senators presents the situation on the ground.

“We take responsibility as a committee for poor performance. But the steering committee is taking important steps to ensure that the challenges are overcome to speed up the process,” he said. “I am not defending the low performance but what I am saying to you is that there are challenges, some of which are man-made, like the long procurement process and natural, including bad road conditions during the rainy season.”

He further explained that due to issue with LISGIS data, the steering committee of the food program has now hired the National Food Support Agency to help with data collection in a bid to fast-track enumeration and food distributions.

Earlier, the Institute for Research and Democracy (IREDD), in a report released last month, disclosed that only 5.5% of the population were said to have received the COVID-19 stimulus food in four months, with a serious reservation of flaws and unreasonable procrastination.

IREDD’s report added that, of the 17 electoral districts in Montserrado County, food had been distributed only in four districts, amounting to 23.5%. IREDD said Liberia has 73 electoral districts and only four districts (just 5.5% of the population) had been served at the time of its report.

“With just four districts served in four months, it will take 12 months to serve communities in Montserrado, and 54 months (4 and a half years) to complete distribution in Liberia at the current pace,” the IREDD’s report noted.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This old man was born a ‘don’, has lived like a ‘don’ and will die like a ‘don’!
    Look, the best place for this old man in Liberia, since Weah owes him a lot, is to serve as advisor to the president.

    Thank God Senator Sherman had travelled lately in his county, or else the bad road excuse was going to be swallowed by our gullible senators.

    According to recent data, the population of Monrovia is 1.5 million people. Did the COVID-19 bring extra 1 million people to Monrovia? Let’s assume it is the case.
    The don old man is telling us he has already fed 2.5 million people in Monrovia. And the 2.5 people already fed represent 5% of the number of households in Monrovia. The report continues and confirms that the total population of Liberia is 5.5 million people.
    Dear God, is this a professor and former minister in different agencies, director and governor reporting to our august body?

    Dear friends of Liberia, are you seeing some of the diseases our dear country Liberia is suffering from?
    I bet if this don old man read my comment of criticism, he would order my execution, as Weah did with those 2 innocent souls that were auditing him.

    May God watch over his children in Liberia!

  2. As a Unity Party card carrying member, and a behind the scene staunch supporter of the ruling party CDC, Senator Varney Sherman, you thought that the citizens of Grand Cape Mount would be treated any better ? Because Varney Sherman always vote alongside CDC line ? But look no further than Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba that also played the same role just like you. What happened to the Nimba County football team against the remote village of Grand Kru football team ? Got the message ?
    Instead of getting off your senatorial seat to see that the citizens of Grand Cape Mount County get what coming to them due to the Coronavirus shutdown that was passed into law by your vote, you were still sucking up to the CDC regime. While the citizens were ordered into a locked down with little food for themselves and for their children.
    You were hired by them to look out for the welfare and security. Now you are pretending to care, and making for nothing negative noise, the day after the damaged was done ?
    You were hired by the citizens, and they are paying you 15 thousand to 20 thousand US dollars per month. Money you could never had made in your law practice every month, but they are paying you that amount every month. And you have brought nothing to that county. James Davis will take that back. Cause after signing the so-called stimulus package, it was alleged that members of the House of Laws were paid 17 thousand US dollars. Of which 7 or 10 thousand was alleged to be given to the citizens of that county as a contribution. The whole county as contribution. And them, you took your seat and never came back to see if the people needed more help. Especially how the children were coming on in the shutdown. But the citizens still paid you your salaries every month , even with the shutdown of your law office, they still paid you. And now, you as a crook called in another crook in the person of Tarpeh to question him why your county was left out ?
    Oh Well, they say it takes a crook to crook another crook. The Senator from Grand Cape Mount County thought he was loved by the regime of CDC. Now he knows the answer.

  3. Nationwide delivery and distribution of foodstuffs to seasonal inaccessible parts aren’t easy, more especially, when essential parts of the process get contracted to third and fourth parties. Professor Wilson Tarpeh was in a hot seat – I emphasize with his situation.

    • Vintage Bagdhad Moses! Always spinning, window dressing, cloaking, twisting and editorialising these things to justify whatever the remuneration. I know Wilson Tarpeh too, and very well. One smart dude and good at his craft. Nevertheless, contracts are won or given to people or entities based in several considerations including past performance, cash standing, etc., etc.

      As such, why was this contract even awarded to this so-called “LISGIS,” when it did not have the capacity to deliver the food because of the tired “bad road” conditions bemoaned by Tarpeh? And if that were truly the case, then how about the other counties like Bomi, Cape Mt., Margibi, Bassa, Bong and parts of Nimba that don’t usually have “bad roads” condition? Are there no more helicopters in Liberia for such essential purposes? And this was supposed to be an emergency relief! for crying out loud.

      People like you and company Bagdgad Moses, are some of the reasons why Liberia continues to lag in so many human developmental indices. Continuously stealing and killing when exposed and telling the rest of us it didn’t happen.

      But mark this and very well to justify your trooling here, coups are still happening and become necessary when the ruler adopts self-centered autocratic and fascistic styles as MO. One revolution or new administration ought to therefore be a “permanent settlement,” and not a nursery for continuous disenchantment and hence, justification for uprisings or another revolution. At some point, the unhinged nonsense has to stop or be stopped!

      • Correction: “…And if that were truly the case, then how about the other counties like Bomi, Cape Mt., Margibi, Bassa, Bong and parts of Nimba that don’t usually have “bad roads” condition did not any food supply like Montserrado? So like senator Darus Dillon said, the relief was being used as a campaign mana. To make the CDC candidate and chances in the ensuing mid-term election look good in Montserrado.

Leave a Reply