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Weah’s Gov’t Was A Victim of Transparency - Says Tweah of US$25M Mop Up Exercise

Weah’s Gov’t Was A Victim of Transparency - Says Tweah of US$25M Mop Up Exercise Featured

Liberia’s Minister of the Ministry Finance and Development Planning(MFDP), Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., has asserted that the Government of President George Manneh Weah was a victim of what he called transparency when the government publicly announced that it borrowed US$25 million from the country’s reserve.

According to Minister Tweah, the issue of borrowing from the country’s reserve was not a new policy, averring that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led Government used such policy for the past 12 years.

He said this was necessitated by challenges the Weah led Government faced in the past three years.

He named the withdrawal of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission from Liberia, donor fatigue from international budgetary support, the drying up of 12 million dollars that was used to pay healthcare workers coupled with the Coronavirus pandemic as some the challenges.

The MFDP Minister, who was speaking recently at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) special press briefing in Monrovia, pointed out that Government of Liberia(GoL) never had a macroeconomic framework to deal with the inflation during the inception of the Weah-led Government, noting that the Government had to construct one.

The special press was primarily aimed at explaining to the Liberian People the recent Washington DC engagement by key officials of the Government of Liberia(GoL).

Minister Tweah, who bragged that the Washington engagement helped to strengthen the existing relationship between the two countries, disclosed that the Liberian delegation was headed by the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill
 
He said the Liberian delegation also included himself, the Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism, Ledgerhood J. Rennie and the Mayor of Monrovia, Mr. Jefferson T. Koijee.

He added that the delegation met and discussed key issues with officials of Joe Biden administration as well as Congressmen of both the Democratic and the Republican parties.

Meanwhile, the US$25 million earlier touched on by Minister Tweah was authorized for infusion into the economy, to stabilize the exchange rate through the Central Bank of Liberia(CBL. But the infusion of the money was heavily criticized by the public including critics of the government with Minister Tweah at the receiving end over his reported handling of the matter.

However, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia,  Frank Musah Dean, strongly defended Minister Tweah and the then Executive Governor of the CBL, Mr. Nathaniel R. Patray that under their watches not a single penny of the US$25 million, which was intended to mop up excess Liberian dollar on the market ever went missing, contrary to reports in some quarters of the Liberian society that the money was allegedly squandered by public officials.

Minister Tweah had maintained that the TEMT is only a policy making or strategy approving body. The GAC audit confirms Tweah’s statement that the TEMT approved the mopped-up strategy while squaring off with the Kroll report which stated that the CBL banking division implemented the money operations.  

“There is, therefore, no issue as to the L$2.6 billion, representing the value of US$17M, being brought to the vault of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). It can safely be concluded that no money is missing in the US$25 million mop-up exercise,” the Justice Minister said in count six of his “Response to the Auditor General’s Report on Factual Findings on the US$25 Mop-up Exercise Conducted by the CBL.  

Minister Dean further said the process of exchanging the US$15 million used for the direct mop up as detailed in section 2.2.5 table 2 of the GAC’s report shows that US$6.7 million was taken out of the bank to be exchanged during the exercise.

There were five teams and US$8.3 million was exchanged at CBL premises.

“The accountability of the mop up funds is not in question, however, section 2.2.4 of the GAC’s report states that 15 entities listed by CBL, as having received money from CBL’s staff during the exercise, denied their participation in the exercise,” he stated.

According to the Justice Minister, eight of the entities on the CBL’s transaction list, were found not to be in existence and the burden of proof is on the CBL, which was headed by Mr. Patray to establish the veracity of the transactions and the entities’ existence.

He averred that multiple sections of the report reference discrepancies and variances in the accounting records of the mop-up exercise.

“Again, these variances and discrepancies place the burden of proof on the CBL to explain these variances and discrepancies or to establish that they are not factual,” said Minister Dean.

He mentioned that the description of discrepancies, variances and delays in posting financial transactions, contained in the GAC’s report, point to the systematic weaknesses at the CBL.

Minister Dean also named the GAC, Kroll and the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) reports discovered entrenched, systematic flaws at the CBL over the years.

He added that there were recommendations made to President Weah for action.

 

 

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