Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Gbarpolu County budget may not be approved by Finance Ministry

By: J. Patrick Kollie 

On Saturday May 4, 2013, the decision by Gbarpolu County Superintendent Allen Gbowee to present his budget and performance report on flying sheet is now appearing to be hunting his legacy (if he ever had one). Many saw the superintendent’s action as deliberate but it is now cleared that the superintendent and his Principal deputy are both unable to produce a comprehensive financial report to convince the finance ministry to release new money to their administration.

Many Gbarpolu citizens thought the first task of Hon. Gbowee and his administration was to ensure equal and unhindered access to all information concerning the various projects in the County, which as the infant County history has shown have been one of the most contentious issues in the county’s political life that to a large extend fueled the political tension in the county. Superintendent Allen Gbowee and his Development Superintendent either lacked a vision or the will to enforce whatsoever vision they had for the development of Gbarpolu County. The budget law which provides the framework for governance was disregarded and treated with discontent by Superintendent Allen Gbowee, his development Superintendent Yassah Karmo-Fallah and the County project management committee (PMC) that should have upheld it. Superintendent Gbowee and his remote control PMC have become more talkative than doers. They have demoted themselves from discussing issues to attacking personalities who speak out on their failed activities in Gbarpolu County.

Investigation conducted at the finance ministry revealed that the Finance Minister/Ministry is prepared  to implement the budget law to the fullest against Gbarpolu County Superintendent and his Development Superintendent who have either failed or are incompetent to account for over half a million USD disbursed to their administration for development in Gbarpolu County. In order to dig whole to cover  another what Gbowee and Yassah have created in Gbarpolu County, the pair are now seen  hunting selected contractors to terminate their contracts and give those contracts to new companies and collect their usual percentages or kickbacks  which sometime range from usd7,000.00.  One contractor who I spoke to on condition of anonymity explained how his company was coerced by Gbowee and Yassah to dish out usd 7,000.00 to them as a condition/kickback to release his contract money to continue his contract.

According to a recent project assessment report on Gbarpolu County by the Bureau of Protocol which was conducted from June 4-5 2013, the USD300,000.00 (three hundred thousand united states dollars) city layout project was at 30% even though Superintendent Gbowee and his Development superintendent Yassah Karmo-Fallah have already received hundred percent of the three hundred thousand dollars. The reasons for such snail pace speed at which the project is going can only be explained on superintendent Gbowee’s flying sheet report which is handled by him only.

Disappointment about Bopolu City layout and electrification projects can be seen in the eyes of Gbarpolu citizens ranging from infants to elders in all six administrative districts of the County. Some are calling for immediate political reforms to avoid further chopping by Gbowee and his Development Superintendent Yassah Karmo-Fallah who were once strong critics of the late Chief Jallah Lone and other administrations before them. It can be recalled that Yassah Karmo-Fallah has escaped several consultative meetings meant to provide clarity on most of their now failed projects in the County. On Saturday may 4, 2013, a major project inspection meeting was held in Bopolu City. In that meeting, the Development Superintendent who was suppose to be present at the meeting to give detail explanations about the status of the various projects in the county was again absent from the city meeting. Several residents said the development superintendent was seen in Bopolu just few hours before the meeting but decided to hide because she lacks the ability to explain anything substantive especially in front of such huge crowd that was present at the meeting.

Fresh information coming from Gbarpolu County indicates that Universal Construction Company headed by Mr. Jallah Mends-Cole is at the verge of losing all the contracts they currently have with Gbarpolu County. Our source who called from Bopolu City on Friday morning (7/5/13) revealed that Chinese contractors were seen on the premises of the  Universal construction company site taking measurements. Residents are wondering who’s now in control of the contract in Bopolu City. When contacted, Universal construction company CEO Mr. Jallah Mends-Cole refused to comment on grounds that his company has not received any official communication from the county authority so he is not aware of contract termination.  Further investigation into the various contract issues revealed that Superintendent Gbowee is mute on the Liberia Renewable Limited, the company that is currently laying out Bopolu city and another company that is responsible for the electrification project in Bopolu simply because the two companies are owned by his political God-father, former Senator Daniel Naatehn, even though it is evident that the Liberia Renewable Limited has not done any substantial work on the city layout project. In order to cover up for his dubious deeds, he had instead subjectively selected the universal construction company to terminate all its contracts and award same to one Chinese company without a bid thus violating the PPCC law.

Already, there’s a suspected PPCC violation on the Gbarpolu Radio Station project. A Chinese company is currently renovating the vandalized and isolated radio station without the proper & required procurement procedure. During the 2011/2012 county sitting in Bopolu City, district delegates allocated usd 30.000.00 for the construction of a new radio station in Bopolu city. The money was not used until the last fiscal year sitting which took place in Gbarma City in Gbarpolu County. During that sitting, additional usd20.000.00 was allocated for Bopolu radio station bringing the total to usd50, 000.00. The money was meant to construct a new radio station around the superintendent‘s compound or near the Bopolu Central high school. Surprisingly, there’s a Chinese company currently renovating the vandalized and isolated radio station which was initially a community radio station project undertaken by an NGO across Liberia

 Now that there is usd50,000.00 to construct the county own radio station, the superintendent and his development superintendent have again ignored the public procurement process/procedure which prohibits the selection or awarding of contracts equal to or over usd10,000.00 to individual(s) or company(ies) without a bid.

Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly’s recent visit to Bopolu and other parts of Gbarpolu County to inspect the July 26 Independence Day  projects ahead of the July 26 Independence day celebration, the Minister  described  some of the projects as “disappointing”.  According to our source, most of the projects may not be completed on schedules.