World Bank Slams Gov’t Over Financial Improprieties

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President George Weah

-Demands restitution of ineligible funds and project assets

The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government continues to dampen its image with major bilateral and multilateral partners as the issue of transparency and accountability remains elusive. Partners have been berating some of the administration’s “unwarranted” fiscal dealings—a situation that presents a bleak future or puts future budgetary support the government at stake.

Many of the country’s international partners are feeling uneasy about the government’s failure to demonstrate financial discipline and have urged President George Weah and his officials to do better in order to gain their confidence and trust. But this seems to be falling on deaf ears as things, as some would say, continue to get worse.

With just few months ago when the government found itself in hot water with the diplomatic community for clandestinely withdrawing funds from their accounts at the Central Bank, the administration has once again found itself at odd with World Bank which is reacting sternly to acts of financial impropriety exhibited by some top government officials. The bank is raising yet another red flag over the issue of transparency and accountability.

In a series of communications from the WB to various ministries of government, copies of which are in the possession of the Daily Observer, the Bank slammed the Liberian government for acts of financial indiscipline and is calling on the government to restitute funds that have been illegally used y the administration.

A letter from WB Country Director, Mr. Pierre Laporte, dated October 2, 2019 and addressed to Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, called for a restitution of USD$11,800.00, which the bank said was ineligibly expended under the Liberia Social Safety Nets Project (LSSNP) that is being implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP).

“This letter requests the government refund to the association the amount totally USD11,800.00 (covering all times outlined in this letter for the reported ineligible expenditures) by making a payment to the association though details that provided in an invoice attached to this letter. Please confirm the refund on or before November 30, 2019,” it said. The government is yet to confirm the refund, a source said.

The review, conducted last August, identified ineligible expenditures in the amount of USD11,800.00 under category 1, which needs to be reimbursed by the government to the association.

“Ineligible expenditures were identified in the amount of USD1,000.00 upon reviewing the petty cash procedure and in the amount of USD10,800.00 upon reviewing the PIU financial management officer’s short listing report. These amount need to be reimbursed to the association,” the WB letter said.

The letter also indicated that petty cash of USD1,000.00 cannot be reconciled in the books of accounts and both the cash and receipt cannot be established.

The letter was meant to inform the minister and his team about a report of a review of the financial management supervision by the International Development Association (IDA) that was conducted by the Financial Management Specialist (FMS). The review focused on withdrawal applications (Was) Payment Vouchers (PVs) bank statement, and the cashbook to confirm that the above mentioned project is meeting the legal convenient and that the submitted Was reflect credible expenditure.

Per the handover note of the previous Financial Management Officer (FMO) of the LSSNP, the petty cash usage report containing the receipt, the letter said, was handed over to the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Protection in November 2018.

The letter said that the same amount was accounted for and up to the time of financial management review, but the ministry and the PIU could not account for the cash. “As such, it was agreed that USD1,000.00 be declared ineligible.”

During the financial management review, it was discovered that the FMO recruited for the project did not meet the minimal requirement.

“A shortlisting report for the recruitment of the PIU’s FMO was also evaluated, a report that couldn’t come but after multiple requests. On reviewing the report it was established that the selected candidate that was shortlisted and eventually offer the job, didn’t have either the minimal qualifications or experience required,” it said.

The leaked letter disclosed that IDA task team and the representatives of the MGCSP agreed to terminate the contract of the FMO and, as such, the payments for the salary of the FMO for the six months (April 2019-September 2019) was declared ineligible.

One of the letters, dated October 23, 2019 from the WB Country Director, Mr. Khwima Nthara to the Acting Chairman of the Liberia Land Authority (LAA) also requested accountability.

The Bank declared a vehicle and laptop purchased under the Land Administration Project as ‘ineligible expenditures’, thereby asking the government to refund. If the government fails to do so, the Bank warned that the financial management and overall ratings of the project would be affected. “This declaration would also impact the performance rating of the entire Government of Liberia World Bank Program,” the Bank said.

However, according to sources, who asked not to be named as they are not the authorized individual to speak on the issue, the LAA has not been able to retrieve US$11,000 and a laptop from an official that was on the project. “The LAA was only able to get the vehicle,” one of the sources said.

World Bank officials could not confirm or deny the authenticity of the letters, but said the bank would respond officially if the need be.

The LAA on October 3, 2019 wrote the World Bank seeking a month-long extension of time to retrieve the assets and the project fund from the former Project Coordinator of the Project Implementation Unit of the Liberia Land Authority Administration Project (LLAAP)

The World Bank granted the request with a warning. The letter noted: “We want to strongly emphasize that failure to comply with the request will require that the World Bank declare these assets as ‘ineligible expenditures’ and the government of Liberia will be asked to refund.”

Meanwhile, some Liberians have said these actions on the part of government officials are clear signs that the Weah led government’s rapport with major bilateral partners continues to dwindle and, in fact, is not getting any better a worry for many Liberians—a situation that is of no help to remedying the dire economic and financial crises that the country currently faces.

The Weah’s government rapport with its international friends has been under scrutiny since its inception, hitting its lowest ebb in May this year when a communication signed by diplomatic missions, expressing concerns over how the government is “stealing” and mismanaging donor funds. The multilateral and bilateral partners also complained about of ministries and agencies failure to make reports on projects.

Signed by the ambassadors of United States, Sweden, France, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, Japan, and European Union, the letter sends a warning to President Weah, who is seemed overwhelmed by a ravaged economy.

17 COMMENTS

  1. The only very good news is CORRUPTION IS NOT A CRIME AT ALL IN LIBERIA AND THAT IS WHY WE CALLED LIBERIA SWEET LIBERIA. SO ANYONE ASKING FOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN LIBERIA MUST BE LIVING IN UTOPIA.. THE FACT IS CORRUPTION IS IN OUR DNA, NATURALLY WE ARE BORN WITH CORRUPTIONS IN OUR BLOOD, SO JUST FORGET ABOUT ASKING FOR ACCOUNTABILITY. WE ARE DOING WELL, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT US. (WATCH)

  2. Perhaps the corrupt and incompetent Bossman’s failure to finally resolve the mysteries surrounding L16B and US35M has encouraged, if not emboldened, all Subordinates to completely ignore the law; they would otherwise be thinking twice or thrice before yielding to temptation. Anyhow, the International Community itself must now stop pouring gold water in a leaking bucket – at least until the hole is plugged or the people get themselves a new bucket.

  3. The factuality of this very “World Bank letters”, which, according to this reporter and editor, is the basis of this article or story, “cannot be confirmed nor denied by the very World Bank authorities “?? This story is a mere paid to maliciously defame government and tarnish reputations of public officials . What proves this is that this news outlet cannot even publish the so called “World Bank letters” which shpuld substantiate this information which is clearly a fake news!

    • Really GONTEE A country where CORRUPTION IS NOT A CRIME AT ALL, YOU ARE SAYING SOMEONE IS DEFAMING THE GOVERNMENT FOR FAILURE TO BE ACCOUNTABLE. YOU ARE WRONGLY LIVING IN UTOPIA AND YOU REALLY SOUND LIKE THOSE FOOLS WHO WERE INTENTIONALLY KILLING LIBERIANS AND TELLING THEM YOU DO NOT KNOW WE CAME TO REDEEM YOU DURING THE WAR. HA HA THAT WAS FUNNY BUT VERY SERIOUS. NPFL AND OTHERS. FOOLS IN PARADISE . (WATCH)

      • No Kpadeh, I am saying the reporter and editor are defaming and tarnishing on a basis they the reporter and the editor cannot substantiate nor guarantee., ascertain or prove. Any dissemination or information based on speculation is fake news.

    • Sorry your access to information is limited. The issues about this money and donors letter is an old story, the president admitted using donors funds behind their back and promised to never do it again when he was delegating the duport road market where as the information minister refer to it as dip hole cover holes

  4. Unfortunately, this criminal using the pseudo name of Kou Gontee cannot even challenge the substance of the letter reportedly written to George Weah from the International Community, but have the nerve to question the authenticity of the communication, referencing it as a “fake news.” What a sad day for our society, with criminals, along with their ineptitude boss parading as leaders of our Nation.

    I thought Mr. or Miss Kou Gontee was a grammar expert who could not possibly make any error in constructing the English Languish. Maybe this cyber criminal can help the reading public understand what he or she meant by the statement in quotation below.

    “What proves this is that this news outlet cannot even publish the so called “World Bank letters” which shpuld substantiate this information which is clearly a fake news!” Kou Gontee

    Next time, please take a good look at yourself in the mirror before pointing fingers at others.

  5. Perhaps, Daily Observer should’ve put the letter from WB – regarding an amount less than USD $35, 000 – in context for readers to know that the bank’s beef has bearing on its effort to get rid of a GMW appointee supposedly lacking capacity to oversee the WB-specific funded projects from which these alleged financial shortages occurred. FPA published the story with the same caustic tone, however, provided enough background.

    Daily Observer has been outdoing itself in anti-government half-truths by fanning any fart that unfairly makes the leadership appears fraudulent. But, not surprisingly, has put a news blockout on the most relevant, most significant, and most consequential political story of the week. I’m talking about the FPA headlined story – “Liberia: Dillon, Costa Meeting With White House Executive ‘Called Off’ as the Pair Provide Conflicting Information on Why”.

    So, here we have a Senator going with would-be anarchist Henry Costa, who had threatened to buy guns for “old rebels to kill on his orders” and vowed to bring down the President should government close his radio station, for a visit with President Trump’s Special Assistant to seek support for a December 30 “Step Down” confrontation that could turn bloody and deadly. Ironically, while one group of Liberians in the US had sued the US President over DED status for some, a case which was rightfully dismissed, another group carried Dillon, Costa and CO to get help in stoking chaos.

    The American President is probably wondering whether we Liberians are still war-traumatized, or just a bunch of crazies. Some foreign observers think we are both. I’ve followed the press in some English-speaking West African countries, but only in our country do media practitioners ape the polarizing practices of US Cable TV. For heaven’s sake, some of you guys are again aiding in taking our country to the edge: No amount of money is worth that risk.

  6. What is this article driving at? Eleven thousand eight hundred USD or eleven million eight hundred thousand USD? This article seems to be false because for just eleven thousand eight hundred USD ($11,800.00) as written in this article, the WB would issue such a public notice?

    Of course, $11,800.00 is an amount that must be accounted for, but is this or would this be so difficult for the GOL to repay?

    Wow. This article is a spin.

    • I hope it was. Because even your statement says you condone fallaci
      es. Even not being a politician, i know stars and celebrities loves flashy things…George Weah can buy a 11,000 dollars pair of shoes and with his own money. What Im wondering is who checked the other presidents wardrobes….you?

  7. That why most Liberians are good at: coming over sea to seek assistance to create CAO in their own homeland. It all begins from the days of the PPP (Progressive People Party), Liberians, time and time again, have taken this path, and it has led us to nothing but anarchy. There is no country in the West African region which citizen has gone oversea to solicit help in destroying their own nation equal to Liberia. Anytime we cross the sea, to eat hamburger, MacDonald’s Burger ,etc., The next thing on our mind is unseating a sitting leader.
    It has done us no good, will not in the feature….been there and done that, no good result, but keep doing it. This is the correct definition of INSANITY.

  8. Those that claim to have the western educations are the reasons Liberia stay the same. It is time that we tailor our systems to meet the needs our people. nowadays corruption had been the order of the day, we as a people are not doing any thing to help ourselves. All we hear is world bank giving Liberia money,let remind ourselves that there is no free meals. World Bank as a institute do not give out free money,is individual who are giving the money to world bank to be loan to African nations. The reasons Liberians are suffering is because our leaders and state men are all thieves. Our PHD holder can not come up with a solution,all they do is create problem with there old colonial education. When there fellow PHD holders in Europe are solving problems for their nation,our so call PHD holders are drinking drinks and womanizing. To those in government you need to stopped the corruptions and the stealing of money and other resources that will help improved the life of our people.

  9. Dear Liberians,

    Stop the ranting and learn to uphold excellence. Stop the tribalism and nepotism and uphold excellence.

    We have proven to the entire world that we are a “shit hole” country for the pigheaded decisions we have made in the past to date.
    To find lasting solutions to the many iniquitous problems in Liberia, we need to let go of our fear, greed, ego and pride. Let’s all join hands to celebrate a big funeral ceremony for Mr. and Mrs. Tribalism and Nepotism.
    When done, boldly vote in a qualified technocrat. Liberia does not need a politico-politician right now.
    Don’t stop there, also vote in qualified people, mostly technocrats and seasoned lawyers, as lawmakers and senators.
    When these bold steps are taken, the rest will be added unto Liberia. You will no longer see preacher men heading our only temple of knowledge and once best airport in West Africa. We will not be confronted with swindlers taking over our central bank and other financial institutions.

    Liberia has many qualified elites. Create the above conditions. They will come in numbers. Things will be fine for everyone.
    Do not be afraid to lose your job, they will provide you a better one if what you were doing is not your rightful place.
    Do not be afraid to face justice. We must be accountable for our actions; on earth and in heaven.
    Stop the witch hunt. You have killed enough. Enough is enough!

    May God bless you all. I wish you all a godly and peaceful weekend.

  10. Quite unfortunate as this GoL is showing lack of competence to manage it and donor-funded projects. What very sad for Liberia seriously

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