By: Laymah Kollie
Monrovia -April 24,2023: Less than 8months to the General and Presidential Elections in Liberia, the Government of Liberia has come under serious criticism by the United States Ambassador to Liberia over the lack of accountability and stewardship to the suffering masses beyond Monrovia, the capital.
Amb. Michael McCarthy assessment piece was based on a tour of the country, visiting different sectors and encountering the pintch of Liberians in the hinterland.
His report, wrapped in a press release issued on April 24, 2023, questioned the government’s inabilities to adequately disburse funds allocated to major sectors catering for the needs and wellbeing of Liberians in the country over the past five (5) years.
Amb. McCarthy report outlined the lack major operational equipment at health centers and non-functioning service centers in the fifteen counties of Liberia; those of whom are yet to receive the 2022 budget allocations for smooth operation.
“I also visited most of the county service centers, and in 2022, NONE had received any of their budget allocation (usually around US$13,333). One center has not printed marriage certificates for four years because the printer broke, and their last allocation was received five years ago. I was startled and deeply troubled to encounter multiple county hospitals that received not one penny of what they were promised in the 2022 budget. Hospitals on which lives depend, where outbreaks are prevented and suffering is alleviated, did not receive any option of the US$100,000 or more appropriated by them to operate “ US Ambassador McCarthy intoned.
The US Ambassador report confirms the case of the Tellowoyan Memorial Hospital in Lofa County where scores of patients were turned away due to the lack of drugs for health needs.
Amb McCarthy believed that the lack of any alarm being raised in these matters indicates a syndicate involving players at the Legislature, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Internal Affairs. “These facilities currently survive on the backs of incredibly dedicated health professionals. Lest you think this is the work of one political party , that notion was quickly dispelled by Liberians I talked to. The blocking of resources is so complete that it must be institutional”.
He furthered that the US is worried that the Liberian government will ensure the functionality of a State-of-the-Art National Reference Laboratory (NRL) expected to be build by the US Taxpayers money when it can not ensure sectors receive budgeted allocations.
“The United States Government is about to spend a total of over US$40Million constructing Liberia’s state-of -the art National Reference Laboratory (NRL) that when completed will require US$3 million to US$4 million a year from the government of Liberia to operate. If the government is failing to deliver statutory appropriations of only US$100,000 to existing hospitals, why would we ever trust annual pledges of US$3 million for the future NRL?”
The Ambassador believes that Legislature’s branded as the People’s deputies are alloying huge sums to self-pleasure themselves over the larger number of People.
“Citizens have not been told that the “Legislature has spent more every year for the past three years buttering their own bread, allocating over US$65 million in 2022 for salaries and operations while hospitals went without, and service centers withered on the vine, while the 30 senators and the 73 representatives spent sixty-five million U.S. dollars feathering their own nests. If the legislature could just appropriate an additional US$10 million a year to primary and an additional US$10 million a year for county hospitals, even the greatest cynics concede that it would make a big difference would dramatically improve the lives of more than a million of Liberia’s poorest citizens, lowering food costs, revolutionizing farm to market access, and eliminating seasonal shortages of life-saving medicines and equipment with the legislature still having US$43 million a year to for it’s operations”.
However, the US Ambassador McCarthy has firmly told Liberians that he will bluntly inform the US Congress that the Elites are manhandling and neglecting ordinary Liberians based on failure to ensure least basic social services are provided. “Should the U.S. Congress ask how the elite in Monrovia are treating destitute citizens in the leeward counties, my honest response would have to be, “those citizens are treated with a neglect that borders on contempt.” Is this the best that Liberia can do”.
The US is a long standing diplomatic and bilateral partner of Liberia. The US invests more than 60Million yearly to support growth and development in various sectors of the country.
The US Ambassador’s Assertions have sparked huge debate within the public spheres about the high level of corruption that is impeding the decentralization of services and proper receipts of national allocations.