Transport Minister, Madam Angela Cassel Bush told the Senate Committee on Public Accounts that the US$10 million allocated for the renovation of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in the 2012/13 fiscal budget of the airport.
Appearing before the Committee Monday, Min. Bush clarified that although her Ministry lacks management oversight of the RIA and is therefore not responsible for how the agency applies its funding, but records from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has provided a clear breakdown of the usage of the funds.
She explained to the lawmakers that over US$5 million of the US$10 million, was used to service RIA’s debt which included, staff salary arrears, baggage claim screening machine and supervision costs.
A little over 4 million dollars was expended on the procurement of navigational aid equipment and support for the rehabilitation of the runway.
This expenditure, according to the Minister, was necessary to ensure compliance with International Aviation Standards at a time when the airport was at risk of flouting International regulations.
The Minister and authorities of the RIA were cited by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts and Audit to give reasons for the Chief Executive’s request to ratify a US$60 million for renovation of RIA when US$10 million had earlier been allocated for that purpose.
Minister Bush further informed the Committee that although the Ministry of Transport only provides policy guidelines to RIA and is not directly involved in the day-to-day running or management of the airport, the request for ratification of the loan was necessary to bring the airport to acceptable international standards, consistent with the country’s Aviation Master Plan.
The Chair of the Senate Committee, Senator Henry Yallah, who presided over the hearing thanked the Minister for providing clarity on the disbursement of the US$10 million and urged her administration to present the Aviation Master Plan to the Senate for review.
The Deputy General Manager and the Comptroller of RIA, who were also part of the hearings, told the Committee that disbursement of the funding was executed by the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) and not the management of the RIA.