U.S. Amb McCarthy Lashes Government for “Neglecting” Citizens- Latest Liberian News

MONROVIA– United States Ambassador to Liberia Michael A. McCarthy has completed his County tour but 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”.

Amb. McCarthy said these situations occurring in the districts and counties without any lawmaker raising any alarm indicate a plot by the legislature, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to deprive the majority of Liberians while the elites are “buttering their own bread”. 

He expressed uncertainties over the U.S. government’s move to spend over US$40 million constructing Liberia’s state-of-the-art National Reference Laboratory (NRL) that, when completed, will require US$3 million to US$4 million a year from the Government of Liberia to operate when the Government is failing to deliver statutory appropriations of only US$100,000 to existing hospitals. 

“On the trip, I was startled and deeply troubled to encounter Hospitals on which lives depend, where outbreaks are prevented and suffering is alleviated, did not receive any portion of the US$100,000 or more appropriated by the legislature for them to operate,” Amb. McCarthy said.

“Why would we ever trust annual pledges of US$3 million for the future NRL?” amb. McCarthy said. 

Also at the County Service Centers, NONE had received any of their budget allocation (usually around US$13,333) in the 2022 budget. One Center has not printed marriage certificates for four years because the printer broke, and their last allocation was received five years ago.

“And I am quite sure they have not been told that the legislature has spent more every year for the past three years buttering their own bread, allocating over US$65 million in 2022 for salaries and operations… while hospitals went without, and service centers withered on the vine, the 30 senators and the 73 representatives spent sixty-five million U.S. dollars feathering their own nests,” United States Amb to Liberia. 

He questioned why there are much better-paid representatives and senators not paying a full 25% of their salaries. Why are legislators and ministers, those living on the top of the heap, given annual duty-free imports that deny the LRA much-needed additional revenue? Is there any reason other than the perverted version of the Golden Rule – “those that have the gold, make the rules”?

U.S. taxpayers spend around US$60 million a year on health care in Liberia, and another US$23 million on education. The same legislature that spent US$65 million on itself in 2022 appropriated around US$7.1 million for grants and subsidies to county health facilities and US$2.76 million for operations at basic and secondary education (although, as we saw, that doesn’t mean the funds reached their intended destinations).

But if the legislature could just appropriate an additional US$10 million a year to primary education (for a country that is tied in last place for average days of school attendance), and an additional US$10 million a year for county hospitals, even the greatest cynics concede that it would make a big difference. Just US$500,000 each per year of actual maintenance (not make-believe budgeted funds) on four unpaved roads (Zorzor – Voinjama; Zwedru – Fishtown; Greenville – Barclayville City; and Greenville – Buchanan) would dramatically improve the lives of more than a million of Liberia’s poorest citizens, lowering food costs, revolutionizing farm to market access, and eliminating seasonal shortages of life-saving medicines and equipment. The legislature would still have US$43 million a year to somehow get by. Is anyone interested in a pro-poor agenda?

As for me, should the U.S. Congress ask how the elite in Monrovia are treating destitute citizens in the leeward counties, my honest response would have to be, “those citizens are treated with a neglect that borders on contempt.” Is this the best that Liberia can do

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