By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
Former House Speaker, Morris Dukuly, now Minister of Internal Affairs has placed a dark cloud over the 53rd National Legislature that most of them usually micro-manage projects earmarked for the County Development Funds (CDF).
Eloquently speaking before the Liberian Senate yesterday, Minister Dukuly without being afraid of contempt charges revealed that he has evidence to prove that several lawmakers from both the Senate and the House of Representatives are in the habit of lining up their own contractors and award contracts without PPCC requirements.
Minister Dukuly was summoned by the Plenary of the Senate about a month ago to explain why the names of chiefs have been deleted from the ministry’s payroll and why he decided to place a moratorium (freeze) on the County Development Funds. The minister was also asked to give reasons for two commissioners’ dismissal.
At yesterday’s hearing, Minister Dukuly also claimed that 0.01% lawmakers lack integrity while 99% are upright, adding that most lawmakers are always visiting him requesting payments for contracts to a specific contractor.
Although he refused to call the name of a particular lawmaker, Mr. Dukuly told the Senators that one of their colleagues (lawmaker) wrote President Sirleaf requesting US$800,000 to be placed in his personal account for payments of contracts from the CDF funds.
During the question and answer period, Montserrado County Senator, Joyce Musu Sumo Freeman, asked the minister to reveal the name of the lawmaker that requested the money from President Sirleaf but the presiding officer, Senate Pro-tempore Findley overruled the question and told Mr. Dukuly not to call any name.
Commenting on why the names of chiefs were deleted from the payroll, the Internal Affairs Minister said the ministry does not have the budgetary allotment to include hundreds of chiefs on the payroll.
According to him, an amount of US$1m was allotted in the 2013/2014 budget for chiefs who have been working but not on payroll and Finance Ministry never delivered that money up to the end of this budget year. In addition to this comment, Mr. Dukuly told the Senators that he cannot perform miracles at the ministry for anyone.
As for the moratorium, Minister Dukuly said there is no blanket moratorium on the Social Development Fund (SDF) and if it were so, he would have been signing checks for payment of projects in various counties.
But after being bombarded with more questions, the Internal Affairs Minister somersaulted saying that he only temporally placed halt on the Social Development Fund (SDF) to create opportunity for him (Minister Dukuly), to review the scholarship scheme under the SDF and lastly to consider other options.
Considering the number of hours Minister Dukuly stood to respond to inquiries, the Senate’s Plenary reached an agreement to defer the minister’s appearance to next week Tuesday, June 30, 2014.