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-Senate rejects Tarpeh’s update

The Liberian Senate continues to keep former Commerce Minister Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh, now head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under oath while it summons members of his coronavirus stimulus package steering committee and the World Food Program (WFP), after differing with Prof. Tarpeh’s update on the distribution of the package.

The Senate wants members of Prof. Tarpeh’s committee and the WFP which the government contracted to appear before the full plenary along with the contract that was signed by the WFP and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning on behalf of the Government of Liberia.

The Plenary’s decision on Thursday, 29 April came about after Prof. Wilson Tarpeh reported to the Senate that he did not have a copy of the contract that was given to WFP by the Government of Liberia, saying the contract was done by the Ministry of Finance.

In addition, Prof. Tarpeh said his job as the chair of the steering committee was to supervise the process, noting that WFP was the only organization that had access to the funds and they did the hiring of trucks and those that did the distribution of the food in the various counties.

In his update to the Senate, Prof. Tarpeh continues that a total of 2.3 million people have benefitted from the food distribution so far, adding that Bomi, River Gee, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru and River Cess have been 100% completed with the distribution. He says the other counties have gone very far with the distribution.

Senator Edwin Snowe of Bomi County claims that the food distribution was marred by alleged criminality, saying his county has not been completed.

According to Mr. Snowe, a commissioner was caught with 800 bags of rice in the county, adding that she was jailed shortly and fined US$200 but the rice wasn’t taken from her. Snowe continues that the accused still maintains her position as commissioner.

Also speaking, Margibi County Senator Emmanuel Nuquay calls for the Senate to constitute a committee to investigate the issues surrounding the processes of the stimulus package. He notes that something went wrong and there’s a need to unearth what went wrong.

For his part, Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson believes that nothing will come out of the investigation being conducted by the Senate. According to him, there have been so many investigations on corruption and other serious matters in the country and they yielded no results. Grand Gedeh Senator Zoe E. Pennue terms the update by chairman Tarpeh as a flying sheet from the world trade center.

Pennue argues that if the update was from WFP, it would have carried a letterhead and signature.
Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay recalls that when the Senate approved the money for the stimulus package, WFP was brought before that august body, and therefore WFP should come to give the Senate answers to questions over how the money was spent.

“Time to give justification on how they spent our money, that’s the time diplomacy should be put in place by going through the Foreign Ministry. They came before us and they can still come before us with their report,” Pennue says.

By Ethel A Tweh–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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