UP Lawmaker Wants Tweah Punished for ‘Illegal Spending’

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Fiscal pundits believed that Finance Minister Samuel Tweah could be jailed for his off-budget expenditure, which is illegal under the laws of Liberia.

Warns of major budget shortfall in 2019-2020 if Legislature does not act immediately

Opposition lawmaker Robert F. Womba has said he will pursue punishment for Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, for his ‘illegal spending’ in the 2018/2019 Budget, as far as writing a formal complaint to that effect to the House of Representatives.

According to legal observers, Minister Tweah could do jail time for his ‘unilateral’ actions, but the Bong County District #4 Representative believes that such action as to order the minister jailed can only be determined or directed primarily by what he called the wisdom of the Plenary — the highest decision marking body of the House of Representatives.

In a news conference with reporters on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 in his Capitol Building office,  Rep. Womba said during the 2019/2020 Budget of the Expenditure Component, Youth and Sports Minister Zoegar Wilson admitted that, in spite of the US$300,000 being allotted for sports, the government expended over US$1 million.

Further, despite the appropriation of US$51 million for the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) in the 2018/2019 by the Legislature, it was discovered that an additional US$10 million was added without approval, which was unlawfully spent.

Rep. Womba wants the Legislature to use its oversight power to call for an audit of the Finance Ministry to serve as deterrence of illegal spending.

The Unity Party lawmaker said that certain ‘ministries spent surplus over their approved budget allocations and contributed to the shortfall in the 2018/2019 national budget.

“In the budget law, switching of a budget allotment to another allotment (or another budget line), including off-budget expenditure, is an offense,” Rep. Womba said.

The Bong County lawmaker expressed his frustration over the off-budget expenditures and said: “I will formally complain to the House of Representatives for the Ministries of Finance and Youth and Sports to be subjected to audit.”

He commended the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) for the collection of lawful revenues across the country but said the Ministry of Finance is not adhering to financial best practices and standards with  illegal spending.

Rep. Womba stressed that he wants the Legislature to use its oversight responsibility to investigate off-budget expenditures executed by the Finance Ministry to serve as deterrence. He also maintained that, if the Finance Ministry is not investigated and halted, the 2019/2020 national budget in the tone of US$532 million might also experience budget shortfall.

There are reports that the government’s 2018/2019 budget has deeply fallen short after it was passed in the tune of US$570 million or its equivalent of L$84,333,327,390. Unconfirmed reports said over US$50 million were not actualized.

The Bong County District #4 Representative also accused the Ministries of Finance and State for Presidential Affairs for the “insincere austerity measures” being effected on other Ministries and governmental agencies, while the two Ministries increased their allotment of goods and services.

According to Rep. Womba, in the budget for the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, most of the allotments and budget lines have been increased in the 2019/2020 as compared to the 2018/2019 Budget.

He said among others, the “Use of Goods and Services allotment” has been increased from US$617,063 to US$1,369,200; Foreign Travel-Incidental Allowance from US$87,504 to US$195,375; Domestic Travel-Daily Subsistance from US$25,858 to US$363,903; Use of Goods and Services from US$4,157,654 to 5,531,678; while  the Presidential Advisory Board from US$92,054 to US$130,288; Technical Services from US$430,259 to US$904,226; and Public Affairs, Communication and Technology from US$108,499 to US$216, 574.

The Bong County lawmaker indicated that in the Domestic Travel-Means of Travel is from nothing to US$19,655; Scratch Cards from nothing to US$49,310; Food and Catering Services from nothing o US$25,528 fuel and Lubricants (Vehicles) from US$85,005 to US$118,309; Fuel and Lubricants (Generator) from US$6,328 to US$47,424; Repairs and Maintenance (Generators and Machinery Equipment) from US$2,529 to US$14,200 and US$20,406 to US$48,800; Cleaning Materials and Services from 11,311 to US$41,000 and stationery from US$68,242 to US$95,620.

4 COMMENTS

  1. A punishment?
    For what?
    Bong county lawmaker R. F. Womba’s call for the Finance Minister, Mr. Tweah to be punished or imprisoned does not solve the problem. A call for Tweah to be punished is a kind of what is known as a “quick fix”. A Quick fix that’s not properly scrutinized is known to be ineffective. It’s like adding insult to an injury.

    There are many sides to a story. Mr. Tweah has yet to be given an opportunity to state his side of the story. Secondly, if Tweah is imprisoned, a negative precedent will be set. For instance, anytime an appointed individual of an institution of government is accused of malfeasance, calls will be made for imprisonment.

  2. Perhaps, in their political antagonistic view and mindset, concerning what Ellen did, George Weah regime can do better , has created another mindset within the regime. Tell them about the regime stealing from the donors, one gets the political answer that the regime of Ellen Johnson too was stealing from the donors. The former Finance Minister is appointed out as someone who stole from the donors in the amount of 13 million euros. And worse, he is placed on an economic criminal wanted list. But just as the previous regime through the Ministry of Finance decided to act on its own to cut the budget of the legislature, or act on the budget, this present regime believes what Ellen did, the George Weah regime can do better. For trying to act on the budget without the legislature, the Minister from the previous regime nearly went to prison. A begging President was responsible for saving the day. Even James Davis at that time called for three months suspension of the former Minister for going against the political doctrine upon which the political institutions of that country has as its pillars, which is the separation of powers . Well, it is either what Ellen did, George Weah regime can do better, or it is monkey see monkey do. The Weah regime has done most things in the Ellen’s political playbook. It isn’t what Ellen did, the Weah regime can do better. They just can’t.

  3. Minister Tweah has proven to the public that he is dishonest to serve as Minister of Finance Development and Planning. His presentation and Expenditures that reflect my statement. He stated during his recent Presentation at Economic dialogue Meeting that the Weah’s Government has only employed additional 1,200 individuals to the Government’s Payroll which turnout to be incorrect. Secondly, according to the layout of traveling Expenditures, the Minister has used Funds that were not appropriated and approved by the Liberian Legislature. These Actions show serious violations by the Minister. Corruption will continue in Government if Legislature refuses do their JOB.

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