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For Ignoring PFM, PCC Law: Senate Issues Warning!

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…Wants Public Works Minister Account For President Boakai`s Hundred Days Roads Deliverables

By: Patrick Cooper

MONROVIA: The Liberian senate has voted to issue an official communication warning the Ministry of Public Works against its recent action to award roads contract to companies without adhering to the legal proceedings.
The Liberian senate during its Tuesday, May 28, 2024, session took the decision based on a report from the joint committees on Public Works, Judiciary and Public Accounts, which in its presentation, prayed plenary to issue an official warning letter to the public works minister for such violation.

The committee, in its recommendations to plenary, disclosed that in their investigation and committees’ findings, the Minister of Public Works Mr. Roland Giddings admit to the Ministrys misstep in offering said contracts and appealed to be forgiven for his action. Furthermore, the senate also voted on the committees report to forgive the minister for what they described as a “misstep” but at the same time instructed the secretary of the Liberian Senate to officially communicate with the public works minister, inviting him to appear before plenary to furnish or account on the just-ended and or ongoing hundred days roads project across the country.

On Thursday, April 18, 2024, the plenary of the Liberian Senate instructed its Committees on Judiciary, Public Works and Public Accounts and Audits to investigate the Public Works Ministry for awarding over US$21-million worth of contracts to several contractors without legislative approval.
Such decision was predicated on a joint communication from Senators Nathaniel McGill, Abraham Dillon, Gbehzongar Findley and Simeon Taylor of Margibi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount Counties respectively.
In the senators` communication, they accused the Ministry of Public Works of awarded contracts valued US$21 million to some contractors for the rehabilitation and construction of roads across the country.

According to them, the contract analysis includes but not limited to, CHICO from Salayea to Voinjama an amount of US$3,999,000, SSF from Voinjama to Foya, US$1,719,976.40, SSF from Foya to Mendikorma, US$740,650.
The rest of the awardees are CICO to connect from Tappita to Zwedru at US$3,200,000, CHICO, from Zwedru to Karnweakan at US$2,434,700, Barclayville to Pleebo valued US$1,507,750, Buchanan to ITI, US$2,123,651.88 and ITI to Greenville, US$2, 882,000.
Senators McGill, Dillon, Findley, Taylor maintained that it is fundamental that any government institution issuing contracts must ensure that funding is available before awarding such contracts as outlined in the Public Financial Management (PFM) and the PPCC Act.
“In the case of contracts for the procurement of goods, US$500,000; in the case of contracts for the procurement of services, US$200,000 and in the case of contracts for the procurement of works, US$1, 000, 000,” they said.
They noted that the law placed emphasis on international and national open competitive bidding processes for contract ceiling for procurement of goods and services.
The four lawmakers pointed to failure of the Ministry to adhere to the Amended and Restated Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2005, stressing that the awarding of said contracts demonstrates lack of adherence to the rule of law.

The Senators, at the same time, informed Plenary that the Public Works Ministry allegedly signed the contracts on a letter to proceed which gives the contractors the right to acquire loan on a pre-financing agreement, arguing that such should not be done without an approved national budget.
“The absence of an approved budget, except for the Two Million United States Dollars (US$2,000,000) allotted for Policy Priorities (100-Day Deliverables) out of the approved Forty-One Million United Starts Dollars (US$41,000,000) requested in February, raises questions about the source of funding for these contracts awarded by the Ministry of Public Works,” the senators said.
According to them, any institution seeking to enter into pre-financing agreements must first seek Legislative approval consistent with article 34(d) of the Liberian constitution and its subsection where applicable.

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