BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – Delegates at the 10th edition of the Grand Bassa Council Sitting have allocated over US$800,000 to a range of development projects to be done under fiscal year 2018/2019.
The county development council sitting was held over the weekend at the Unification Pavilion on the Fairground in Buchanan. The annual event allowed delegates from across the county to deliberate on how to spend county and social development funds. The delegates also reviewed the past projects resolved.
Speaking at the opening of the council sitting, Bassa’s fifth district representative and the chairman of the county’s legislative caucus, Thomas Goshua, underlined the quality of health, education, and human development, priority for reconciliation, agriculture, road and infrastructure development as areas of concerns for Grand Bassa.
Goshua also called on businesses operating in the county to prioritize citizens of Grand Bassa for employment as they are the driving force to the county’s infrastructural development.
“Our county could then be a hub of attraction for investment of multinational companies, businesses, and concessions, but I must make a clear and resounding call even then and now, that businesses of all sort operating within the border way of this county, when hiring for employment, priority must be given to qualified and competent citizens of Grand Bassa,” he said.
“Once they are empowered, they will develop the respective communities. No one can do more than we can do for ourselves. To all multinational and concessions, businesses, NGOs – give priority to our citizens and let not our hospitality be taken for leniency.”
Elections for members of the Project Management Committee was also held, and two members of the past PMC team were re-elected. Moses Henry, who previously served as treasurer, won as chairman, while Uriah Bryant retained his position as comptroller. Charles Dobson of Grand Bassa’s fourth district was elected as treasurer, the only new member of the committee.
A vetting committee headed by former Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh, a prominent Grand Bassa citizen, had been set up by the delegates to review the candidates. The committee denied three candidates on grounds that they had not met the criteria required for the positions.
During the vetting process, Moses Henry scored 98 percent while his contender, Tarr G. Sayweh, scored 62 percent. Uriah Bryant scored 99 percent and Charles Dobson scored 63 percent, the highest in the treasurer category.
The committee recommended that based on the performances, the persons with the highest point immediately take the position in each of the categories. The delegates overwhelmingly voted in concurrence when a motion to accept the committee’s decision was filed by Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence.
Grand Bassa’s third district representative, Matthew Joe, disagreed with the elections process, noting that the budget law calls for an election and not appointment or selection.
In Bong, activist groups are currently advocating to have appointments of that county’s PMC revoked, given that members were not elected.
Delegates at the sitting also voted overwhelmingly to deny allowing lawmakers’ staffers to have delegate status. The motion to deny staffers that status was filed by Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence.
“It is intended to stop the County Development Sitting from being influenced by individual lawmakers. We decided that none of our staff [should] be given delegate status,” Karnga-Lawrence added.
As a result, three delegates were denied from the office of Grand Bassa’s fourth district lawmaker, Rep. Vincent Willie.
The new budget law forbids for a lawmaker from having any decision in the selection of delegates. The law gives the responsibility squarely to the office of the superintendent to submit the names of delegates to the head of the legislative caucus for approval. The law is intended to safeguard against the selection of projects by politicians, rather than the direct beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, delegates unanimously agreed to suspend funding to the Grand Bassa Scholarship Foundation pending reports of past activities. The motion to stop funding the foundation was proffered by Representative Willie on grounds that the foundation’s arrears have increased. Currently, the foundation owes over US$86,000.
By suspending funding to the foundation means the more than 400 students receiving financial aid from the county has been discontinued until the county decides to continue in the future.
Although the county did not receive its portion of the national budget for two fiscal years 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 due to the budget shortfall and national government competing priorities, delegates at the sitting over weekend resolved almost the same projects under the past two fiscal years.
The delegates adopted projects and programs valued US$817,500. US$420,000 of the amount was set aside as districts and cities projects, while US$397,500 was earmarked for county’s programs.
There were other projects such as renovation and extension of compound one administrative building Bassa’s first district and construction of the Diahn bridge in Bassa’s second district, Zuehgar Town bridge, youth center in Bassa’s three and four districts and Neekreen statutory district will be determined by the PMC following an assessment.
|1.||District #1||Commissioner Office||Worr||$30,000.00|
|2.||District #1||Ownesgrove Market Construction||Kporkon||$50,000.00|
|3.||District #1||Completion of Ferry Terminal||Edina||$5,000.00|
|4.||District #1||Renovation/Extension Administrative Building||Compound #1|
|1.||District #2||Market Construction||Yeabloe||$15,000.00|
|2.||District #2||Commissioner Residence||Geegbahn||$30,000.00|
|3.||District #2||Construction of the Diahn bridge|
|1.||District #3||Furniture for Health Center||Gorblee||$20,000|
|2.||District #3||Construction of Health Center||Bleahzee||$30,000|
|3.||District #3||Extension of Junior to High School||Nyuen – Wein||$90,000|
|4.||District #3||Construction Zuehgar Town bridge||Zuehgar Town|
|1.||District #4||Construction of Korkor David Clinic (Initial)||Doegbahn||$30,000|
|2.||District #4||Construction of Commissioner’s
|3.||District #4||Construction of youth center civil compound||Civil Compound|
|1.||Neekreen Statutory District||Beautification of Monrovia Junction||Neekreen||$30,000|
|2.||Neekreen Statutory District||Agriculture project|
|1.||St. John River City||Beautification and others||St. John River City||$10,000|
|1.||Buchanan||Beautification of Buchanan City and others||Buchanan||$5,000|
|2.||Wayzohn||Beautification and others||Wayzohn||$10,000|
|3.||Buchanan||Sanitation and intervention||Buchanan||$35,000|
The delegates also agreed to fund 15 additional county-wide projects including supporting the Grand Bassa Community College, the Bassa Sports Association, the Bassa Youth Caucus, support to rural women, and ensuring repairs and maintenance of public buildings.
During the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 budget years, the national government owed the county US$2.4 million for the county and social development funds but agreed to pay only US$1.2 million due to a budget shortfall, with US$1.2 million outstanding. Of the US$1.2 million agreed under fiscal year 2015/2016, the national government has paid a total of US$1,174,333, with US$25,667 still outstanding.
Also, under fiscal years 2016/2017 and 2017/2018, the national government allocated US$1,052,583, US$519,250 under 2016/2017, and US$533,333 under 2017/2018. However, none was paid none to the county. Meanwhile, central government now owes Grand Bassa US$2,278,250.
In the current budget, US$1.1 million is allocated for Grand Bassa, but the leadership of the county is sure of receiving only US$740,000 to implement projects resolved.
Citizens complained during the recent council sitting that the government’s failure to remit their portions of the national budget over the years has created a setback to growth and development in the county.
They were, however, assured by the leadership of the county, including the legislative caucus, that the county will receive its fair portion of the national budget this fiscal year.
Featured photo by Sampson David