BREAKING NEWS: GoL Fires Back at U.S. Amb. McCarthy, Says ‘Narrative Was Inaccurate’- Latest Liberian News
MONROVIA- The Government of Liberia has sharply reacted to United States Ambassador Michael A. McCarthy’s recent reports where he observed that citizens in the country have been “neglected” with multiple county hospitals not “received one penny of what they were promised in the 2022 budget” from the government of Liberia for health and education centers in the rural parts of the country – as well as efforts to decentralize development.
In a release late Wednesday evening, the government of Liberia says it acknowledges the concerns raised by Amb. McCarthy but says his “Narrative Was Inaccurate”.
Signed by Information Minister Ledgerhood J. Rennie, the release stated that the country continues to make significant progress since the end of the civil war, which tore the nation apart for more than a decade and sunk it further into poverty.
He said recent efforts by the Weah Administration aimed at reviving critical infrastructure as it invests in health and education, have gotten much acclaim from various bilateral and multilateral partners. These efforts are being accelerated despite global economic challenges which have slowed growth in many parts of the world.
“While the government recognizes that there is always room for improvement, particularly in the allocation and disbursement of funds for essential services, the narrative as expressed by Ambassador McCarthy is inaccurate,” he said.
And he claimed that the government continues to expand its efforts to increase coverage to meet the needs of millions of Liberians, as well as hone the skills of service providers which it says was the central theme of the recently concluded 3rd International Symposium for Community Health Workers which was hosted in Monrovia and attended by hundreds of delegates from around the world, where many speakers, including those from the World Bank and the Global Financing Facility, cited Liberia as a “powerful example” of how crucial it is to build a healthy workforce.
He says the government remains grateful for the goodwill and support it continues to receive from all development partners, including the U.S. government, without which the feat would not have been possible.
The government however clarify that the US$60 million referenced by the Ambassador is not money coming entirely to the government of Liberia, as has understandably been skewed by politicians – with an eye on the upcoming elections. Only a small fraction of Government-to-Government support, which is disbursed only after proof of performance, goes to the government.
He said, “the rest is expended through USAID’s funding mechanisms – directly to select project implementers”.
The release further stated that the government remains dedicated to investing in critical health infrastructure across the country as it builds clinics and hospitals, while also prioritizing human capital development.
“The government has disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars in Resettlement Action Plan to affected residents and can assure the Americans of Liberia’s full preparedness to run the facility when it is completed in a few years,” the release added.
Various initiatives are currently ongoing to train and retain healthcare professionals as a means of ensuring that all Liberians have access to quality healthcare services. As was announced by President Weah during his State of the Nation address, a revolving fund is also being set up to address the perennial problem of drug shortages at some facilities, Ledgerhood J. Rennie said.
He added that similar efforts are being made in the educational sector as the Weah administration strengthens the free and compulsory primary education initiative, as well as the improvement of school infrastructure and the training and support of teachers. The government is also building new model schools and developing standard curriculums which have led to major improvements in students’ performance in WAEC/WASSE.
The Liberian government values the longstanding partnership it shares with the U.S. and believes that open communication between both governments is important to the sustenance of this historical tie.
Data from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and validated by the Ministry of Health have been attached as proof of Cash Disbursement to Health Facilities Nationwide For Year Ended FY2022.
This provides a much-needed explanation of the spending and disbursement pattern to health facilities within districts, towns, and villages across the 15 political subdivisions of Liberia. The summary also provides key information and clarification on actual disbursements and the mode of disbursement to health centers and the reporting requirements to correct the assertions made in the Ambassador’s piece that no funding was reaching healthcare centers.
Facts about Disbursement:
• Under FY2022, about US$7.2 million (Seven point two million United States Dollars) was disbursed to more than 70 hospitals, clinics health centers across Liberia. This amount represents operational activities and EXCLUDES Salaries of employees, rent, drugs, and vaccines, which are provided by the Central Government through the National Budget or with the assistance of Development Partners.
• This amount includes US 4.9million United States Dollars representing about 175 USD checks cashed out of the GoL Consolidated Revenue Account, and about LRD 350 million (three hundred fifty million Liberian Dollars) representing more than148 checks cashed out of the consolidated account for FY2022.
• The health facilities include referral hospitals, hospitals, clinics, county health centers, etc.
• The disbursement report and analysis as attached show that some facilities received their operational support in both United States Dollars and Liberian Dollars while others received exclusively in Liberian dollars or United States Dollars
• The top 10 receivers in the report account for about US$3.8 million or 59 percent of the total US$7.2 million disbursed to the 70-plus health facilities across Liberia. The top 10 receivers include referral hospitals such as Jackson F. Doe, CB Dunbar, Phebe hospital school of Medicine, Telleweyon John F. Kennedy Memorial, Redemption Hospital, etc.
The below table summarizes the disbursements of resources to health facilities referenced and discussed in the preceding paragraphs.