Civil Society Group Troubled Over Sen. Snowe’s “Unnecessary” Demands

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The Civil Society Network of Liberia (CSNL) says it is troubled and disgusted over Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe’s demands that the Minister of Public Works presents reports on all on-going road works in the country, including all payment receipts to road contractors. At the end of her recent appearance before the Senate’s Public Works Committee, the committee’s Chair, Senator Snowe, instructed the Public Works Minister, Ruth Coker Collins to present information on all payments made to road contractors in Liberia.

   “The Civil Society Network of Liberia strongly believes that Senator Snowe’s demands that the Public Works Minister presents information and receipts of payments made to road contractors in the country is sinister and amounts to legislative overreach. While the Legislature has oversight responsibility over the workings of agencies of the executive branch, it lacks the authority to play the role of an auditor or auditing institution. The Senate’s committee on Public Works, lest to say the committee chair in Senator Snowe, does not have the right to request for payment receipts to road contractors. The act of requesting for information and payment receipts to road contractors is tantamount to usurping the function of the General Auditing Commission (GAC), which has been statutorily legislated by the very Legislature to audit the operations of agencies of government,” the CSNL stated in a press release.

   “The Civil Society Network of Liberia wants to make it clear that there are clearly laid-down processes through which agencies of government account for monies allotted to them for operation. Senator Snowe needs to understand that, under the Public Financial Management Law, it is only the GAC or anti-graft institutions have the function to audit the operations of government agencies regarding receipts and payments of funds. So, it is illegal for senator Snowe to request the minister of Public Works to provide all receipts of payments made to road contractors in the absence of an audit report. Until an audit is conducted on the operations of the Ministry of Public Works, showing allegations of mismanagement of funds, no oversight committee of the Legislature, including the Public Accounts & Expenditures committee, has the authority to do raw audit or review of the books of the Ministry.

   “The Civil Society Network of Liberia also sees as legislatively intimidating and worrisome for Senator Snowe to accuse the Minister of Public Works of ‘cherry picking’ in payment made to road contractors in the absence of reviewing the ministry’s contractors payment record. This also shows that Senator Snowe wants to use his influence as Chair of the Committee on Public Works to ensure that payments are made to his interest-contractors. This assertion by Senator Snowe has an interest-protection undertone and is totally out of order.

   “It is noteworthy for the CSNL to state that the statement by Minister Ruth Coker Collins that 12% of roads has been completed shouldn’t be misconstrued or taken in actual terms. It is an administrative psychological expression intended to dismiss any form of excitement by road contractors, and motivate them to do more in ensuring that the ministry meets it road construction goals. There are several roads that have been constructed, and are undergoing construction that visibly show that far more than 12% of roads have been completed. The Fish Town-to-Harper Road; Ganta-to-Saclepea Road; Ganta-to-Sanniquellie; Gbarnga-to-Sanoyea Road; Sanniquellie-to-Luguatuo Road; the Banjor-to-Bomi Road; the Soul Clinic Road; the Johnsonville Road; and many other roads, are laudable accomplishments of the Ministry of Public Works under Minister Ruth Coker Collins.

Minister of Public Works, Ruth Coker-Collins

    “In conclusion, the Civil Society Network of Liberia calls on Senator Snowe to desist from intimidating the Minister of Public works, as he lacks the authority to demand the Minister to provide receipts of payments made to road contractors. This does not fall within his scope as Chair of the Senate’s Committee on Public Works. Senator Snowe should rather focus on clearing himself from widespread allegations that he received bribes from Western Cluster Liberia for their illegal operation in Bomi County.”

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