So true, pundits lamented, that this has become an open secret, that the Weah Administration has been pulverized by series of high profile financial scandals since taking office in January 2018.
In the same vein, the dismal performance of the implementers of the COVID-19 US$30 million stimulus food package under the watch of former Commerce and Industry Minister Wilson Tarpeh has sparked out more criticisms and condemnations from the greater public, thereby being dubbed by pundits as a criminal cartel trapped in its own operational failure to up to its national task nationwide in a Corona virus pandemic era.
The quizzical failure of the team did not come as a surprise to say the least, pundits noted, because the high level of corruption rapidly eroding whatsoever credibility this government would have had, is interesting to note that its miserable actions continue to be swindled by gross insincerity and dishonesty.
Therefore, according to them, Tarpeh and his team of deceitful and greedy individuals made no mistake by landing directly on the stage most expected by members of the public, most of whom knew their fate long before the exercise even took off; with emphasis on the manner and form Tarpeh without any logical realization, narrowed to target to only four counties in criminal collaboration with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) head of support service to Liberia, Mr. Aaron Sleh; forgetting to know that the COVID-19 imposed lockdown affected everyone nationwide.
Today, Tarpeh is stuck in a quagmire of leaning on blame shifting mainly on Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information (LISGIS) that according to him (Tarpeh) lacks the ability and capacity to perform the task given it, and that is to conduct the numeration of all those in the 15 counties; despite President George M. Weah’s initial proposal targeted four counties, but was step-up to all countries as the input of the National Legislature; even as that, the record up to date shows that only four districts in Monrovia have received supply.
Moreover, Tarpeh who some people see as having serious problem with honesty, the pundits observed, quickly took cover behind flimsy excuses that most of the people could be reached due to the rainy season and the bad road conditions in the county, again, such defense was thrashed as sham by the people who refuse to accept same as authentic, adding, didn’t Tarpeh know about the rainy season in the country long time ago, and are the roads to Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties so bad off that no vehicles can drive on it?
Another individual who saw this whole stimulus food package from a distance and knew that it was on one hand politically motivated party-wise (CDC); that the latter would use the food package as a campaign tool of influence and inducement to solicit votes for the December 8, 2020 senatorial by-election and a big time charade, when the leader of the One People Revolution Movement (OPRM), Moncio Robert Kpadeh requested the WFP head to produce or publish the food contract between it and the Liberian Government regarding its (WFP’s) role in the enhancement of the distribution of the stimulus food package, something up to date has never been done, thus eclipsing transparency and promoting the principle of connivance in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s donations to the COVID-19 pandemic stimulus food package to the lockdown people of Liberia.
It can be recalled that the package prioritized four counties affected by the COVID-19 Montserrado County the center of the Virus in Liberia, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru. This list of counties was later amended by the legislature to include all 15 counties.
In the wisdom of the Legislature, it was necessary to include all fifteen counties since in fact the country was under a lockdown, making almost every Liberian vulnerable to the virus.
The FrontPageAfrica also published that the cost attached to the project was USD$25 million from government coffers and US$10 from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if the government meets the needed requirement laid down by the IMF.
Since the approval, citizens have been anxious to know when the distribution will begin. More importantly, who will lead the process?
It has now been made clear that the World Food Program (WFP) will handle the distribution with the process expected to kick off on May 23.
As part of the Senate oversight responsibility, Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh, Head of the food stimulus package distribution and Mr. Aaron Sleh, head of the WFP support service appeared before the Senate Committee on COVID-19 to explain the methodology of the distribution.
The Oversight committee headed by Senator Gble-Gbo Brown(Independent, Maryland County) said, the invitation extended to the two officials was aimed at getting an update on the plans and implementation of the food distribution aspect of the government’s stimulus package approved by a joint legislature resolution.
In his opening statements, Mr. Tarpeh told senators that the food distribution stimulus package will prioritize health workers, considered as frontline staff and security personnel who are in the high-risk category as well as vulnerable communities.
Said Minister Tarpeh: “When the President first sent the package, it was to prioritize vulnerable people in the four counties affected by COVID-19. But in the wisdom of the legislature, they added all the counties. So, if you are affected by the COVID-19, you are vulnerable; vulnerability is relative.”
For his Part Mr. Sieh said the process will prioritize the first four counties which include; Montserrado, Nimba, Margibi, Grand Kru – and that people most vulnerable in these counties will be given priority over those in the rest of the country.
According to Mr. Sieh, the food basket initially was rice and vegetable oil but the committee decided to extend with help from international partners. “We have decided to include; imported rice, locally produced rice, vegetable oil, and locally produce red oil.
The highlight of the President’s plan features a US$25 million to support food distribution to households in designated-affected counties for a period of 60 days, an electricity and water support during Stay-at-Home Program; Market Women and Small Informal Petty Traders Bank Loan Program, a government domestic debt program and a President’s Tax Policy and Administration Stimulus Program.
The World Bank has committed US$15 million to help the government fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bank has already made available US$1.5 million to help the government to start the fight against the coronavirus while they are working on making available in total US$6 million that is expected to be in the country within six days.
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