Gov’t fights back
-Replies US Amb. McCarthy
The Government of Liberia is fighting back to redeem its tainted image ahead of the crucial October 10, general and presidential elections, a day after U.S. Ambassador Michael McCarthy accused it of neglecting the leeward counties.
In a statement issued on Wednesday April 26, the government admitted that it acknowledged the concerns raised by Amb. McCarthy in a press statement released on Monday, April 24 in which he highlighted the state of some health and education centers in the rural parts of the country – as well as efforts Liberia is making to decentralise development.
But the Government in its statement signed by Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie, said the country continues to make significant progress since the end of the civil war, which tore the nation apart for more than a decade and sunk it further into poverty.
It furthered that recent efforts, including by the Weah administration aimed at reviving critical infrastructure as it invests in health and education, have gotten much acclaim from various bilateral and multilateral partners. These efforts are being accelerated in spite of global economic challenges which have slowed growth in many parts of the world.
The statement noted that while the government recognizes that there is always room for improvement, particularly in the allocation and disbursement of funds for essential services, the narrative as expressed by Ambassador McCarthy is inaccurate.
It said healthcare for instance, is one sector in which the government continues to expand its efforts to increase coverage in order to meet the needs of millions of Liberians, as well as hone the skills of service providers.
“This, in fact, was the central theme of the recently concluded 3rd International Symposium for Community Health Workers which was hosted in Monrovia and attended by hundreds of delegates from around the world. Many speakers, including those from the World Bank and the Global Financing Facility, cited Liberia as a “powerful example” of how crucial it is to build a health workforce,” the statement added.
It stated that the government remains grateful for the goodwill and support it continues to receive from all development partners, including the U.S. government, without which this feat would not have been possible. The assistance, the government statement added, has proven vital to the giant strides the country has made over the years.
However, the government explained that it is important, to clarify that the US$60 million referenced by the Ambassador is not money coming entirely to the government of Liberia, as has understandably been skewed by politicians – with an eye on the upcoming elections. Only a small fraction in Government-to-Government support, which is disbursed only after proof of performance, goes to government.
The Government narrated that the rest is expended through USAID’s own funding mechanisms – directly to a select project implementer.
The government said it remains dedicated to investing in critical health infrastructure across the country as it builds clinics and hospitals, while also prioritising human capital development. Liberia is therefore thankful to the U.S. government for its decision to complement the government’s efforts by constructing a National Reference Lab.
The government disclosed that it has disbursed hundreds of thousands in Resettlement Action Plan to affected residents and can assure the Americans of Liberia’s full preparedness to run the facility when it is completed in a few years.
It added that various initiatives are currently ongoing to train and retain healthcare professionals as a means of ensuring that all Liberians have access to quality healthcare services. As was announced by President Weah during his State of the Nation’s address, a revolving fund is also being set up to address the perennial problem of drug shortages at some facilities.
It noted that similar efforts are being made in the educational sector as the Weah administration strengthens the free and compulsory primary education initiative, as well as the improvement of school infrastructure and the training and support of teachers. The government is also building new model schools and developing standard curriculums which have led to major improvements in students’ performance in WAEC/WASSE.
The Liberian government values the longstanding partnership it shares with the U.S. and believes that open communication between both governments is important to the sustenance of this historical tie.
Data from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and validated by the Ministry of Health have been attached as proof of Cash Disbursement to Health Facilities Nationwide for Year Ended FY2022.
The Government said this provides much needed explanation on the spending and disbursement pattern to health facilities within districts, towns, and villages across the 15 political subdivisions of Liberia. The summary also provides key information and clarification on actual disbursements and the mode of disbursement to health centers and the reporting requirements in order to correct the assertions made in the Ambassador’s piece that no funding was reaching healthcare centers.
Facts about Disbursement:
• Under FY2022, about US$7.2 million (Seven point two million United States Dollars) was disbursed to more than 70 hospitals, clinics health centers across Liberia. This amount represent operational activities and EXCLUDES Salaries of employees, rent, drugs, and vaccines, which are provided by the Central Government through the National Budget or with assistance of Development Partners.
• This amount includes US$4.9million United States Dollars representing about 175 USD checks cashed out of the GoL Consolidated Revenue Account, and about LRD $350 million (three hundred fifty million Liberian Dollars) representing more than148 checks cashed out of the consolidated account for FY2022.
• The health facilities include referral hospitals, hospitals, clinics, county health centers, etc.
• The disbursement report and analysis as attached show that some facilities received their operational support in both United States Dollars and Liberian Dollars while other received exclusively in Liberian dollar or United States Dollars
• The top 10 receivers in the report accounts for about US$3.8 million or 59 percent of the total US$7.2 million disbursed to the 70 plus health facilities across Liberia. The top 10 receivers include referral hospitals such Jackson F. Doe, CB Dunbar, Phebe hospital school of Medicine, Telleweyon John F. Kennedy Memorial, and Redemption hospital, etc.
The below table summarizes the disbursements of resources to health facilities referenced and discussed in the preceding paragraphs.
So the us ambassador, having wasted the usaid funds in liberia is finding scapegoat. He has been more a politician than a diplomat. He just needs to announce his political party. In election year certain prouncements are clearly election interference especially if they are built on half truth.
Sir, Washington is waiting for an accounting. Good luck.