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Editorial: Milking U.S. Government funds in Margibi

The people of Margibi County risk being delisted from a U.S. Government-funded health program due to corruption. This is despite the designation of three senior officials of the Weah administration by the United States last year for ongoing public corruption. 

A statement issued on Monday by the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia says the USAID Mission to Liberia will decide whether to retain Margibi as part of a USAID’s government-to-government agreement, pending transparent investigation and associated actions to hold accountable anyone involved in the misuse of any U.S. government funds.

The statement followed news report on an audio recording in which Margibi County Health Officer Dr. Augustine Nyankun Fannieh and other senior staff are heard discussing fraudulent billings and collection of kickbacks from vendors under the USAID-sponsored Fixed Amount Reimbursement Agreement (FARA) Program for the Margibi health system, totaling US$ 801,693.00.

The program, according to report, supports cost of implementing components of the Essential Package of Health Services for family planning, maternal and child health, and malaria prevention and treatment in 24 health facilities in the county.

Though the Ministry of Health has taken prompt action, recalling the county health authorities linked to the leaked audio for investigation, but the U.S. Embassy near this capital says it has a special responsibility to ensure that money provided by American taxpayers for the benefit of the people of Liberia, including the people of Margibi, is used for its intended purpose.

It is unfortunate and regrettable that the people of an entire county would suffer because of the dishonesty and greed of few officials, who see both national and foreign monies as opportunities to line their pockets at the detriment of their fellow citizens.   

Dr. Augustine Nyankun Fannieh and other senior staff heard discussing fraudulent billings and collection of kickbacks from vendors under the USAID-sponsored FARA Program are a serious disgrace to the people of Liberia, who need all support from foreign friends to improve their health conditions.

The individuals reportedly involved are no different from merchants of death, as their actions do not only undermine the health system of Liberia but outrightly threaten the lives of thousands of citizens in Margibi, who are direct beneficiaries of the program.

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We recall vividly how the Ministry of Health misapplied millions of dollars in 2022 under the Global Fund for Liberia’s Malaria Program and lied that some of the funds were spent on media advertisements, including radio jingles that it could not provide receipts for.

We when conduct our public services with such dishonesty and gross disregard for foreign partners who donate their taxpayers’ money to help us salvage our woes, we do not just undermine ourselves, but leave a very bad footprint for the coming generation. 

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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