The Senate Committees on Public Accounts and Transportation have been mandated to probe into the whereabouts of US$10 million allotted in the 2013/2014 fiscal budget for the rehabilitation of the Roberts International Airport (RIA).
The Senate plenary decision at its 17th day sitting Tuesday was prompted by a communication authored by three Senators requesting that body to ask the Ministry of Transport to account for budgetary allotment for fiscal year 2013/2014 intended for revamping RIA.
In their communication dated March 4, the three lawmakers, Senators Henry W. Yallah of Bong, Geraldine Doe-Sherif of Montserrado, and Dallas A.V. Gueh of River Cess Counties, wrote to their colleagues “for a decision of the Ministry of Transport to account for budgetary allotment for fiscal year 2013/2014 intended for the Roberts International Airport.”
According to the Senators, “The 2013/2014 national budget appropriated the amount of US$10 million for the revamping of the runway of the RIA; but to date, the runway has not been revamped and the Ministry of Transport has submitted no report on the status of this project, neither this amount…”
But in a swift move immediately following the reading of the letter, Bomi County Senator Morris G. Saytumah said it was premature for the three Senators to request that the matter be discussed by plenary. He rather suggested that such a request should emanate from the Public Accounts Committee after they have done their work to ascertain whether the said amount had been disbursed.
His suggestion was, however, rejected as plenary unanimously voted to send the communication to the committees of Transport, and Public Accounts, with their mandate to get detailed information pertaining to the amount from both the Transport Ministry and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
The Senators’ communication was read days after President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had sent to the Senate for ratification the finance contract agreement between Liberia and the European Investment Bank for the rehabilitation of the RIA runway.
The total amount of that loan agreement, according to President Sirleaf, is US$27.3 million.
The estimated cost of the RIA modernization and rehabilitation project, according to President Sirleaf’s communication, is US$60.3 million of which she said Government has concluded arrangements for the project to be bankrolled by several financial institutions.
The President named some of the financiers as the Saudi Fund for Development, US$20 Million; Arab Bank for Economic Development for Africa, US$10 million; a credit from the European Investment Development Bank in the amount of US$27.3 million, and the Government of Liberia US$3 Million. The project is scheduled to be implemented by the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA).