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According to Senator Chea, the problem of the matter is not the health authorities, but members of his Committee members, noting that most of their works are done in Committee Room. According to Senator Chea, the problem of the matter is not the health authorities, but members of his Committee members, noting that most of their works are done in Committee Room.

Halt expenditure of the money until… - Senate orders MoH, NPHIL Featured

On the heel of reported misuse of funds collected by the Ministry of Health (MoH) as testing fees for coronavirus disease for all travelers, the Liberian Senate has ordered the Ministry and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) to halt the expenditure of funds collected from passengers at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County.

Health authorities spearheaded by the Ministry of Health have since been collecting US$75 from each passenger leaving or coming to the country, something members of that august body sometimes ago raised serious red flag on account that the Ministry is unauthorized under the laws to levy or collect taxes.

Despite the caveat sounded by the Upper House of the Liberian Legislature barely six months ago, the Ministry still collects the same fund and has reportedly been expending it without any accountability.

But the Ministry has since rejected the reported misapplication of the collected funds.

Accordingly, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate sitting during its seventh day sitting of the Special Session on Thursday, November 11, 2021 voted unanimously to halt all spending by the Health Ministry.

The decision was an outcome of a motion by River Gee County Senator, Conmany B. Wesseh, who requested the Senate Committees on Health and Public Account to continue their work regarding the collection of said fund to report back to Plenary next Thursday.

Senator Wesseh's motion was later amended by Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darius Dillon, who stated that the Senate communicates to the MOH and NPHIL to halt the expenditure of the money collected until the relevant Committees conclude their report and submit it to Plenary.

Plenary is the highest decision making body of the Liberian Senate.

Debate into the fund was triggered by a qualm raised by River Gee County Senator, Jonathan “Boye Charles” Sogbie over the “illegal” collection and “mismanagement” of the fund.

The River Gee County lawmaker asserted that the COVID-19 testing fees collected by the MOH and NPHIL has no revenue reflection in the national budget, thus requesting the appearance of the Minister of Health and Director General of NPHIL to explain what they have been doing with the money generated.

Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence recounted that in the past, both Director General of NPHIL and MOH Minister confirmed the collection of money at the RIA and admitted that the money was being used by the two institutions.

"There is no apology for misappropriation; money collected from coronavirus is more than million, while no medication at some major health facilities, the money collected should have been used on those facilities,” intoned Sen. Karnga-Lawrence.

"They should appear before us and tell why they disrespected us for doing what we told them not to do," she ordered.

At the same time, Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darius Dillon stressed that these hearings are becoming irrelevant to members of the Liberian Senate and the public, adding that MOH through NPHIL are still collecting the US$75 at the RIA.

“Millions of dollars are being collected from there. It has been over six months now and nothing has happened because we, Senators are not firm on our oversight responsibility,” Sen. Dillon averred.

"It is very painful and appears annoying to the public, this issue should be taken seriously, let us do something here to benefit our people because that is why we were elected for, not to buy them bundle of zincs or give them money," Sen. Dillon stated.

But amid the accusing fingers at health authorities, Sinoe County Senator, Augustine Chea, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, attributed the delay of Plenary to take action regarding the collection of money from passengers by the Ministry and NPHIL to the alleged failure of most of his nine committee members to attend meetings.

“Some Senators are only here to buy sentiment from others and public. We are nine on the committee but no one wants to come for meeting. Whenever I called meetings only Senator Wesseh and Nathen can attend. All the other Senators will not come,” said the Sinoe County Senator.

According to Senator Chea, the problem of the matter is not the health authorities, but members of his Committee members, noting that most of their works are done in Committee Room.

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