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-Tweah Vs. Prof. Tarpeh on COVID-19 food

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The Government of Liberia appears to be confusing its citizens here in terms of the group of people qualified to received food ration under the it’s stimulus package.
Over the weekend and repeated on Wednesday during a Senate oversight hearing, Commerce Minister Prof. Wilson Tarpeh who chairs the food distribution Steering Committee said government will target vulnerable groups and people living in slum communities here.

Prof. Tarpeh stated that the distribution which will begin on May 23, will start in the four index counties-Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru. However, contrary to his pronouncement, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah says every household will benefit.

Tweah assures the public that every household will benefit amid anxiety among Monrovia residents that government was only targeting vulnerable groups, such as the disabled community, Group of 77 and orphanages, among others.

Speaking Wednesday in a live simulcast with several radio stations in Monrovia, the Finance boss said the government is committed to the exercise and is collaborating with the World Food Programme of the United Nations to commence the food distribution.He also disclosed that hazard pay for health workers, including nurses, doctors and the Joint Security will be paid besides regular salary for leading the fight against the new coronavirus in the country.

However, the Minister clarified that neither government nor the World Food Program has started enumerating residents or households, adding that if that were happening it was not with government’s knowledge.Several residents, who called on the live talk show claimed people had carried out enumeration in their communities for the pending food distribution.

The 54th Liberian Legislature recently endorsed a State of Emergency for 60 days and a US$25 Million stimulus package submitted by President Weah, including 21-day lockdown in four affected counties namely; Montserado, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru, respectively, as part of measures to curb spread of the virus that has killed 20 persons with 176 confirmed cases.

The President had suggested that the stimulus package be directed at the affected counties but the lawmakers, thru a joint resolution, extended it to all 15 counties. Story by Jonathan Browne

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