The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has asked two contractors in its employed to restitute US$82,000 allegedly withdrawn from the Ministry’s account at Afriland First Bank on Crown Hill, Broad Street.
The decision followed a recent US$1 million scandal reported at the Finance Ministry, which led to prompt investigation by Minister BoimaKamara.
Those contractors allegedly involved include the head of the Reforms and Coordination Units headed by Mr. Emmanuel Tokpa, and his deputy Mr. Herbert Fawbor.
The Ministry says the two are required to restitute said amount within a period of one month, after which their contract will be terminated.
Addressing reporters on Wednesday, 8 February in Monrovia, the Minister of Finance and Development BoimaKamara said, “As you may be aware, there was a corruption scandal that has been within the Ministry of Finance, and we thought to remain quiet because investigation was ongoing, and now I can say to you that our investigation has ended with two people being involved, the coordinator and his deputy.”
He said findings from the investigation revealed that US$1 million intended to upgrade the Ministry’s inner system was misapplied, and that the purpose for which the account was established was never achieved as money was withdrawn from the account without his notice.
The Finance boss said people withdrew money from the account not toward payments of contractors, and not towards payments of the civil works, but for unknown services, adding, “so today we are pleased to inform the public that the outcome of the investigation is that there will be a restitution of the money withdrawn from the account, and it is around US$82, 000.” He said the balance of the amount is being processed.
“I believe that a new day has come, and the new day is no to corruption here, the new day means let every dollar that comes go to developing this country, so that every citizen can see that their taxes collected are really utilized in terms of paying civil servants on time, in terms of meeting our external obligations, and addressing our infrastructure problems.”
Minister Kamara stressed the need to build roads across the country, but that the money must be rightly used to addressing issue of electricity and other competing needs, so that what little is collected in terms of revenue is wisely expended.
He said all those held reliable for the misappropriation of funds will be suspended depending on gravity of the offense, saying “but those who woefully decided on their own to abuse the system without authorization from me as Minister, their contract here at this Ministry will be terminated.”
He reminded that the Public Financial Act requires that any agency of government wanting to open a separate account, must first meet his approval as Minister of Finance, and even if signatures are affixed, he must be contacted by the relevant bank before such account is opened.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne