Lawmakers in coupon row
Bong County Representative Josiah Marvin Cole and his colleague from Montserrado Couty District#7 have been in tussle over gasoline coupons intended for members of the House and staffers at the Capitol.The New Dawn gathers that Representative Cole, who co-chairs the House’s Committee on Rules, Order and Administration, allegedly reduced the quantity of coupon slips for some lawmakers and diverted same to his personal use.It all started when Montserrado District#7 Representative Solomon George and Representative Cole locked in a serious argument, raining insults at each other in the public glare.
Representative George, widely known as a ‘no nonsense’ man immediately confiscate Cole’ mobile phone, demanding his remaining coupons or else, he (Cole) would not get his phone back. The confusions lasted about ten minutes in the newly constructed annex of the Capitol before Speaker Bhofal Chambers and other leaders of the House of Representatives intervened in releasing Cole’s phone from a rather angry Solomon George.The House of Representatives had not received gasoline allotment since May this year with the current consignment being the first in many months.
However, Rep. Cole, who works closely with the procurement department, had distributed the coupons unequally among lawmakers, heads of departments and staffers, when some lawmakers suspected their allotments were tampered with thus, raising concern. The Rules, Order and Administration committee is responsible for purchases at the House of Representatives.
During the 2018 national budget, each lawmaker was entitled to US$2500 worth of coupons, but due to prevailing economic constraints characterized shortage of local bank notes and delays in payment of salary, government sliced this amount by 50 percent.The Liberian government spent over US$287, 000.00 monthly on petroleum products from Super Petroleum, a local vendor here.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the House has set up an investigative team that is currently probing Rep. Cole.
When contacted via mobile, the Bong County lawmaker he admitted to facing some internal investigation, but not about coupon slips.According to him, someone in the midst had attempted taking about US$13,000 intended for coupons for personal use, which was discovered and reported immediately to the leadership, clarifying it has nothing with his personal involvement in theft.
“Anybody tells [you] that is false and misleading. There were some misunderstanding but we have resolved it. In fact, I discovered US$13,000 that was intended for coupon and that money was put back. It is true about some internal investigation, but not about coupon theft,” he said.
When Speaker Chambers was contacted via mobile concerning the information, his phones rang endlessly without picking up the call. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne