BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa â€“ The Project Management Committee of Grand Bassa has released its first quarterly report, citing challenges in the county receiving its allotted funds from the Ministry of Finance.
The report covers December 7, 2018, to March 22, 2019. Members of the PMC were elected at December 7, 2018, County Development Council Sitting to manage the spending of development funds for the next three years.
In the report, the PMC noted that the Ministry of Finance had finally approved US$100,000 in County and Social Development Funds. The report said 40 percent of that amount had been paid to the county in Liberian Dollars (L$6,437,077.56). The balance 60 percent payment is expected to be paid in U.S. dollars shortly.
However, even when the balance amount is paid, Grand Bassa would be far away from receiving the over US$800,000 delegates agreed to spend on development projects for the current fiscal year.
Prior to the December 2018 county council sitting, the Ministry of Finance had owed the county US$1,278,249.
The disparity in the amount provided by the central government and the amount allocated to projects by the county means that â€œno project has started as per the 10th County Development Sitting Resolutions,â€ the PMC report noted.
The PMC said it has been working hard to get the Finance Ministry to provide funds due to the county. However, difficulty in accessing the funds from the central government, many projects remain undone.
â€œOur work has been difficult due to the lack of fuel to run the generator, stationery, and other office equipment due to the lack of funding for the PMC to operate smoothly. Yet we still improvise sometimes through the help of the county administration,â€ the report said.
The PMC has even been cutting costs to secure its existence. The committee said it received a communication from the Grand Bassa Legislative Caucus to reduce its support staff from ten persons to just one driver, which has been done.
To avoid the challenges with accessing the countyâ€™s funds in the future, the PMC recommended that funds be paid directly into the countyâ€™s account instead of going through the central government.
Prior to the Ebola outbreak, Grand Bassa was receiving US$1,000,000 from ArcelorMittal as social development funds. However, the government allowed ArcelorMittal to defer payment to the county due to the epidemic and the drastic reduction in the price of iron ore on the world market.
ArcelorMittal was expected to pay back the full amount after the outbreak ended and when the price of the iron ore improved on the market. However, for the past two years, Grand Bassa â€“ and many other counties â€“ have struggled to access their county and social development funds, as the central government often redirects those funds to other areas of need.
As a result, projects that Grand Bassa has agreed to fund from 2016 to present have not been completed.
Featured photo by Sampson David