Liberian Lawmakers Spent US$478,384.00 On Foreign Trips
By Josephus Moses Gray
March 3, 2004
Financial report released in Monrovia recently by the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) Committee on Ways, Means and Finance has revealed that despite prevailing financial constraints and abject poverty, the Legislative Branch of the Liberian government has spent almost half of a million United States dollars on foreign trips (covering the period of October 24, 2003 - February 4, 2004).
In its detailed financial report, published in one of the local dailies in Monrovia, the NTLA Committee on Ways, Means and Finance said a total of US$478,384.00 was spent on members of the Legislative Branch for foreign trips to cover their per-diem allowances and ticket fares for those trips.
The Ways, Means and Finance Committee is chaired and co-chaired by representatives Tapple E. Doe and James Momoh respectively. Other members of the committee include Ranney B. Jackson, Edward Kpulum, Sando B. Johnson, Prince Q. Tope, Roland Kaine, David Saydee, George D. Moore and Julius S. Parker, Sr.
In the breakdown, the committee said US$10,000 was spent on October 24, 2003, on a trip taken by Speaker George Dweh and three members of the House to Ghana and Nigeria, while additional amounts of US$3,377 and US$6,430 were spent on November 20 and December 8, 2003 on two representatives who traveled to Ghana and Nigeria. These amounts also cover Representative Roland Kaine’s travel to the Ivory Coast. On December 4, 2003, a total of US$18,950 was spent on Deputy Speaker Eddington Varmah and Speaker George Dweh’s trip to South Africa.
On December 12, 2003, a total of US$52,951 was expended on two different delegations for trips to Geneva, Switzerland and Brussels, Belgium. The amount of US$26,315 went for the Geneva trip; while the sum of US$26,636 was spent on the Brussels visit.
Those who made both trips were Thomas N. Nimely, Edwin Juah and Stanley Saywon, while the delegation for Brussels trip also included Rudolph Sherman, Benedict Segeh and Tahwoe Waylee.
On December 18 and 24, 2003, a total of US$44,491 was spent on trips to Ivory Coast and Nigeria – The amounts of US$20,461 and US$23,850 were spent on the Ivory Coast and Nigeria visits respectively. Additionally, on December 26 and 31, 2003, US$35,472 was expended on trip to Egypt, while US$20,346 was spent on two representatives who traveled to South Africa.
The report also shows that US$121,242 was spent on Speaker Dweh and five representatives for their trip to South Korea on January 1, 2004. For the recently held Donor Conference, a total of US$100,795 was spent on five Assemblymen who traveled to the United States to attend the conference on Liberia held in New York.
The head of the delegation to the Donor conference, Representative Charles Clarke, received US$7,300 as per- diem, while the other four members (Tapple E. Doe, Stanley Kparkille, Saa Philip Joe and Bartu Dorle) received US$6,300 each as per-diem. The report also reveals that US$68,295 was spent on five Representatives’ round-trip air fares to the donor conference in New York, while US$95,242 went for round-trip air fares for the South Korea visit. Each of the delegation to South Korea received US$4,500 as per-diem, while delegates to Egypt received US$4,500 as per-diem.
On February 4, 2004, a total of US$38,950 went to Speaker Dweh for trips to Guinea, Ghana and Ivory Coast. - with the Speaker receiving US$21,500 as per-diem and allowances. The breakdown of the report indicates that Speaker Dweh for the various trips made from October 2003 to February 2004, has received US$40,250 as per-diem on his foreign trips.
Meanwhile, the Budget Bureau has allotted US$1,1817,792 for the NTLA instead of the US$2,000,000 formulated by the House committee as budget for that body. The amount was reduced to US$1,1817,792 owing to the nation's ailing economy.