How Ebola money was spent?
-LACC releases report today
At long last the much anticipated report on how money allocated to fight the deadly Ebola virus disease was expended is expected to be release today.
Officials of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC say the preliminary report will catalogue the systems and procedures used by government ministries and agencies in expending the money and how the remaining funds, supplies and other resources provided by both donor partners and the Government of Liberia are being managed.
The expending of Ebola money and related resources have been the subject of much debate here with many claiming that the funds were mismanaged.
At one point, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh, in the midst of these allegations suggested that a foreign firm mange the funds.
On Friday, LACC Commissioner for Education, Aba Dolo during power point presentation at a follow up meeting of government officials and civil society organizations discussing the need and means of proactively disclosing information related to the management of Ebola resources, announced that the anti theft commission would have released the report today.
The stakeholder meeting, the second in three months was organized by the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism and The Carter Center Access to Information.
The Carter Center Access to Information project is supporting the Government of Liberia widely disseminate government Ebola information and facilitate feedback loop.
The Liberia Anti Corruption Commission began visiting state institutions late 2014 to find out what systems they had in place to properly account for Ebola resources and prevent incidence of corruption in the wake of massive mobilization of resources to help Liberia fight the Ebola virus Disease.
Commissioner Dolo said since that investigation, the LACC has received ninety percent cooperation from government ministries and agencies, though she said the Ministry of National Defense and the Red Cross presented some challenges.
She also said local and international non-government organizations constituted another challenge in accounting for the resources they receive on behalf of the people of Liberia to fight the Ebola epidemic.
Madam Dolo clarified that the investigation was consistent with the Section 5.2 of the LACC Act that empowers the commission to carry out preventive initiatives.
She said national emergencies were fertile breeding ground for corruption due to the vital need to act swiftly.
There is wide spread public perception that officials charged with administering Ebola resources were diverting and misapplying funds for personal gains.
Madam Dolo said the LACC investigation will lend credibility to the fight against Ebola.
She said the commission was at the concluding stages of few reports, including the Ministry of Information, Liberia National Police and the General Services Agency.
She said active work is ongoing on the Ministry of Health, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and the Cremation Team.
At the same stakeholder follow up meeting, the Ministries of Education and Internal Affairs reported on the amounts they received to help fight Ebola.
Education Ministry Comptroller, Augustine S. Josiah reported that his Ministry received a little over one million US dollars from three sources, the Government of Liberia, UNICEF and Save the Children.
Mr. Josiah said one million of the amount provided by the Government is in escrow while funds from UNICEF and Save the Children are being used to prepare for the opening of schools.
Internal Affairs Ministry Information Officer, Emmanuel Wheinyue reported that the Ministry received US$238,157.50 and LD$28,007, 306.25 from the Ebola Trust Fund.
The money, he said was distributed amongst counties in addition of the ministry`s approval for the counties to use funds from their county development funds to help fight Ebola.
Speaking earlier, Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Isaac Jackson thanked The Carter Center for its support that complements the efforts of the Government of Liberia to demonstrate accountability of Ebola resources.
Minister Jackson said The Carter Center support to engender public discussion about the use of Ebola resource was in line with the objectives of the government which passed the Freedom of information law to enhance collaboration and to get the Liberian people informed on development issues.
He said consistent with the efforts of the government, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has written government agencies to submit report on what they have received and how they use what they got to fight Ebola.
Earlier, The Carter Center Access to Information Project Lead, Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner urged civil society activists to embark of evidence based advocacy by requesting for information, informing themselves before speaking to development issues.
Cllr. Warner said both government and civil society needed to find ways to collaborate to enhance accountability and transparency.