CESTOS: River Cess County Senator, Wellington Geevon-Smith, has said authorities of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Afriland First Bank Liberia, and Cestos based MC2 Bank are expected to appear before the plenary of the Liberian Senate to provide justification, if any, for the alleged cut in civil servants’ salaries through disbursement of checks at a local bank in River Cess.
Senator Geevon-Smith said since 2015, MC2, a community bank commissioned by the CBL to pay salaries to government employees working in River Cess, has been deducting US$5 and at least LS$500 from every civil servant’s monthly salary without tangible justification.
“Something has been going in River Cess and during the campaign period, I said, I would have stopped it. The local bank from 2015, every government worker they pay, they deduct 500 Liberian dollars or 1000 Liberian dollars from his/her salary, depending on the strength of your salary. After that, they deduct extra 5 US dollars from every employee,” the Senator, a former media personality said.
In addition to the alleged cut, he disclosed that some civil servants in the county have not gotten their salaries up to a year.
“In River Cess, there are government workers who have not taken pay from six months, for one year going to two years. And so, I wrote the Plenary of the Liberian Senate. I want to know who authorized the deduction of the money and what happens to the money for people who have not been paid,” he stressed.
Senator Smith, upon assuming office, said he wrote the Senate plenary, requesting that body to find redress to the situation.
According to him, the relevant committees invited authorities of Afriland Bank, but “the explanation given was not convincing,” hence, they’ve concluded on inviting the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Central Bank of Liberia and MC2 to appear before plenary when the Senate returns from its Easter break to respond to the claims.
The River Cess County Lawmaker spoke over the weekend in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, when he held an appreciation program for River Cess citizens residing in Grand Bassa County for voting him to the Legislature.
Speaking on other issues of national significance, Senator Geevon-Smith informed citizens that he supports recommendations for the establishment of war crimes court for Liberia.
According to him, those who bear greater responsibility for the mayhem created during the Liberian civil war should account for their actions.
“I am a strong supporter of the war crimes court. I believe people who perpetrated crimes must account for their atrocities. I had been a proponent of the war crimes court before I became a Senator,” he declared.
Commenting on other issues, the Senator said he partly supports legislations in support of dual citizenship, but cautioned that the aspect that has to do with land ownership should be critically looked at, fearing that foreigners would come here and use cash influence to take “all our lands from our people”.
“I’m not 100 percent supporting the war crimes court. There are some ideas I support. If we are not careful and just pass this law, foreigners would use cash violence to take our people’s land. The portion that I support is when two Liberians children are given birth to out of the country, they are automatically Liberians, except they decide not to be,” he clarified.
Senator Geevon-Smith is not the only Liberian Lawmaker raising concerns over the operation of MC2 Bank in rural Liberia.
In May 2020, Grand Kru County Representative, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, who is also Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, officially wrote the CBL, formally requesting financial audit of the local bank in the county on reports of corruption and racketeering.
Rep. Koffa’s communication, dated May 5, 2020, and addressed to Mr. J. Aloysius Tarlue, Executive Governor, Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), said: “I present my compliments to you and have the honor to request a full and comprehensive audit of the Grand Kru Rural Community Financial Institution (GKRCFI), which was chartered by the Central Bank of Liberia, on March 28, 2014. The purpose of the establishment of the Bank was to further assist in the government’s decentralization program, especially in the area of financial service primarily with Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Education payrolls in the County,” the communication read.
The communication added: “While this still remains a noble and lofty goal, the operations of the GKRFI over the years have raised serious concerns and trepidation among citizens in the county and customers of the bank. Regrettably, it appears that the bank is perceived and operates as a racketeering, corrupt, and influenced organization.”
Rep. Koffa further told the CBL Executive Governor in said communication: “I am therefore requesting that the Central Bank of Liberia, as the regulator, audit or cause to be audited, the GKCRFI. Many of the permanent citizens serve on the board of the bank and many others are shareholders. It will be proper that a full audit is done so that the bank is brought in the ambit of transparency and accountability and the full faith of the citizens and customers restored.”