Acting Public Works Minister struggles to defend US$18.9m expenditure
By Ethel A Tweh
The Acting Public Works Minister, Madam Ruth Cooker-Collins, struggles before the Liberian Senate in explaining how US$18.9 million allotted last year in the recast budget for road construction was expended under her watch.
The Senate budget committee Tuesday, January 18, asked Acting Minister Cooker-Collins during her appearance to account for the US$18.9m allotted in the recast budget for road works, before asking for additional US$20m for the same project.
The Acting Public Boss says she didn’t receive all of the funds requested for in the recast budget, adding that she expended what was given her, but couldn’t say yes or no that the US$18.9m wasn’t approved by the Senate.
In this light, the Committee asked the Acting Minister and her Deputies to return and re-organize their expenditure report to reappear today, Wednesday, January 19, 2022, with a detailed report on how the US$18.9m was spent by the ministry.
Meanwhile, Madam Cooker-Collins reveals that a total of 225 registered Liberian contractors are working with the ministry, 12 for consultancy, 72 for roads, and 141 for road construction.
She says the Dixville road situated behind Barnesville Estate is an inherited project, and the Government of Liberia owes the contractor US$3.7m, but negotiations are ongoing to reach a settlement.
But Senators Daniel Nathaan (Gbarpolu county), Edwin Melvin Snowe (Bomi county), J. Milton Teahjay (Sinoe county) and others note that Madam Ruth Cooker-Collins has been Acting Minister for Public Works for about 16 months, adding that it’s time President Weah either formalized the appointment or replace her.
Senator Teahjay maintains that he will not vote to pass the Public Works budget because the Senate can’t trust an Acting Minister with the ministry’s budget, saying “Let the President confirm the woman or replace her.”
Minister Cooker-Collins has been acting as head of the Public Works Ministry since the death of Minister Mabutu Vlah Nyenpan in October 2020.
The late Minister Mabutu Vlah Nyenpan died aged 54, at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana weeks after suffering a massive stroke in Monrovia.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/public-works-gives-update-on-key-road-connectivity-in-liberia/ Editing by Jonathan Bowne