Commerce and Industry Minister Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh Commerce and Industry Minister Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh

Minister Tarpeh Wants Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund Audited - Writes Auditor General Featured

Monrovia, Liberia - The Minister of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh, has written an official letter to Madam Yusador S. Gaye, Auditor General , General Auditing Commission(GAC), requesting the GAC to conduct an audit of the Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund (SBPDF).

The GAC is the independent constitutional external auditor of Liberia which supports Legislative oversight over the management of public resources. The GAC conducts quality and timely financial, compliance and performance audits.

 In his letter dated July 15, 2020 and addressed to Auditor General Gaye, a copy of which is in possession of the Heritage, Minister Tarpeh said, “As you may be aware, in 2018 H.E Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia officially launched the Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund(SBPDF), to support Liberian owned Small, Medium Enterprise.”

“ The initial setup amount was US$1,000,000.00(One Million United States Dollars), which was matched by additional US$1,000,000.00(One Million United States Dollars) by the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI),” Minister Tarpeh explained in his communication.

“In view of the above, I am kindly requesting your good office to conduct a full audit of the above program as at June 30, 2020. The program is being managed and operated by the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment(LBDI),” Minister Tarpeh stated in his communication.

It was gathered that President Weah launched the Pro-Poor Loan Scheme in fulfillment of the promise he made in his inaugural address—that Liberians will not be spectators in their own economy.

The Commerce and Industry Minister’s request to the GAC regarding full audit of the SBPDF comes in the wake of allegation by the former Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry for Small Business Administration, Madam Jamima Wolokollie that she had been kept in the dark by her boss, Minister Wilson, who, according to her, had taken over the disbursement of the loan, expending over US$ 513,000 to “purported beneficiaries” who are yet to be properly identified.

She urged the public to direct their concerns and questions to Minister Tarpeh and not her, averring that she knows nothing about the disbursement of the loan, even though her department should have been directly involved in every step of the way including disbursement.

It can be recalled that recently, President Weah dismissed Deputy Minister Wollokollie following what the Executive Mansion called a string of actions incompatible with her status as a senior government official.
 
Former Deputy Minister Wolokolie was earlier suspended by the President for “insubordination and unprofessionalism”.
 
But Minister Tarpeh categorically dismissed the allegation by Madam Wollokollie that he was single-handedly disbursing the loan money to the beneficiaries from his office.

Addressing a press conference on July 8, 2020, Prof. Tarpeh termed Mrs. Wolokollie’s outburst as “maliciously twisted” comments aimed at burying the facts surrounding the loan program and defame his good name and the reputation of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The Commerce and Industry boss displayed several documents, which he said, proved that Mrs. Wolokollie was involved in the administration and disbursement of the loan in question.

Among other things, he added that the loan program is administered, managed and operated by the LBDI, with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry only providing strategic oversight and guidance as a sector Ministry and the former deputy minister as one of the “A” signatories to the loan accountis knowledgeable about the processes governing the loan.

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