By Lincoln G. Peters
Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweh, Jr., has told the Liberian Senate that the Government of Liberia does not have a full comprehensive list of all its domestic debts owed from the era of the country’s first president, Joseph Jenkins Roberts to incumbent President George Manneh Weah’s administration.
A day before he is due to appear before the Liberian Senate, Mr. Tweh told state broadcaster ELBC on Wednesday, 2 March 2022 that government does not have all those documents requested concerning a comprehensive domestic debt of the country.
In the interview simulcasted on other local radio stations here, Mr. Tweh however said the government is working with the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to have the full list of all government domestic debts cataloged.
According to Minister Tweh, a full list of domestic debt which was settled by the government was presented to the Liberian Senate in such a comprehensive manner.
He said after the payment of those debts, they received an additional claim from over 2000 individuals and institutions who said the Government of Liberia was owing them.
Tweah said every institution and individual in Liberia who has claimed government indebtedness has been instructed to make their case to the GAC. He said GAC will audit and present the full list to the Ministry of Finance before payment is made.
“We don’t have the capacity right now to pay anybody, therefore, we have instructed anyone that has problems on providing service to the government and they have not been paid to go to the GAC and make their claims with evidence,” Tweah explained.
The GAC, he said, will tell the government abut a validated list that can be dealt with.
“We went back in history and this is the final list that you should pay from. However, right now we do not have that final list. What the senate wants is what the GAC is working on,’’ Mr. Tweah argued.
Meanwhile, Minister Tweah said the government will pay or look at the debt that was in existence from former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s administration and look at which service was performed.
He detailed that the Ministry of Finance Debt Department has all the current data.
In a related development, Minister Tweh has expressed disappointment in Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon for requesting him (Twea) to appear before the Senate to explain Liberia’s domestic debt despite having provided the data previously to the Senate.
Minister Tweh accused Senator Dillon of playing politics. He suggested that the Government of Liberia is transforming the debt space which he claimed was under the table and Liberians had no knowledge about.
“Last year we spent 84 million on domestic debts and we broke it down and presented the report to the Senate. Now Senator [is] asking to see me, it’s politics he is playing,” Minister Tweah claimed.