Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff
Senate Divided Over US$5m Ebola Report Request
By Winnie Dixon
MONROVIA, September 24 (LINA) - The Liberian Senate is divided over calls for government to provide a comprehensive report on the expenditure of the US$5 million Emergency Ebola Fund allotted for the use of the National Ebola Task Force.
Earlier, Senators Sando Johnson of Bomi, Geraldine Doe-Sheriff of Montserrado and Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence of Grand Bassa counties expressed grave concern about the expenditure of the funds and called for a report on the fund by the Task Force.
However, upon the reading of a communication on Tuesday, September 23, several senators opted for the holding of the report and subsequent audit until after the crisis, while others pressed for immediate audit into the usage of the funds.
Senators Frederick Cherue of River Gee, Isaac Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh, Henry Yallah of Bong and Cletus Wotorson of Grand Kru counties opined that the fund was a revenue request made through the House of Representatives and as such, report of any kind should originate from there.
They stressed that in the absence of said report from the Task Force, there would be no basis for an audit.
They said that in the document endorsed from the House of Representatives, it was clearly indicated by the head of the task force that reports on the expenditure would be given when the job of eradicating the virus is finished.
The Senators then said that the plenary should not mandate the President, who is head of the task force, to give reports, but should rather galvanize efforts aimed at eradicating the virus that is on the rampage in the country.
According to them, any audit now would serve as a serious distraction to the entire fight aimed at containing and eradicating the deadly the disease.
For their part, Senators John Ballout of Maryland County, Alphanso Gaye of Grand Gedeh and Mobutu Nyenpahn of Sinoe counties argued that there should be an immediate audit into the report that the task force has expressed its willingness to present to the public, in order to promote accountability and trust in the ongoing fight.
They said in a recent meeting with the joint houses leadership, the President said the report was available and would have been handed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Alex Tyler.
The Senators said their call is not an attempt to fight the Executive Branch, but to rather promote transparency upon which the government is founded, adding, “The decision to concur was done in good spirit that is why we did not put pressure for the plan of action.”
The Senators recalled that in late July, in the absence of an action plan from the task force, they endorsed an emergency fund of US $20,000 for the fight against the Ebola virus.