By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Liberian Senate has begun hearings for the confirmation of presidential nominees as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf continues to make more appointments to constitute her final team for the remaining years of her government.
One of those appointed recently was George Werner, Minister of Health-designate, who is attributing the major problem of health care delivery in Liberia to the lack of system. Mr. Werner, with not the least knowledge in public health care, when confirmed would be serving in an administrative position and averred that the health care workers’ problem is mainly administrative.
Mr. Werner who if confirmed will be leaving the Civil Service Agency where he served as Director General for sometime now said he cannot substitute the judgment of his boss for preferring him at this time, admitting that the health system is broken and many may see it as being in dire need of a medical doctor to head it in the midst of the Ebola outbreak and health care workers’ discontentment among other things.
The Health Minister-designate said he has proven himself for the past three years while serving in President Sirleaf’s administration and told the Senate Health Committee that he is capable of rebuilding the system noting that the workers’ problem can be resolved when the administration puts in place systems and make sure that the coordination process is made transparent and accountable.
Mr. Werner told the Senate Committee on Health chaired by Senator Peter Coleman on Thursday when he appeared for confirmation hearing that he has the right temperament to take care of the health workers’ issues boasting how his tenure at the CSA compelled the USAID to give budgetary support to government because of his ability to institute a significant payroll reform.
Health Minister-designate Werner said there is already a robust plan to train about 30, 000 Liberians while at the CSA he had commenced contracting medical practitioners from Harvard and Columbia Universities.
The CSA boss who faced tough time before that august body few weeks ago because of his request to lay off staff who had been mandated to remain home terming them as ‘non essential’ due to the Ebola scare and also as a means of decongesting government, said decision was quickly rejected by the National Legislature and he was held in contempt for statements made during that meeting for which he was instructed to apologize, pay a fine and have the apology made public.
Werner denied threatening to go to the supreme Court following the contempt action of the Liberian Senate and told that committee how it was due to respect for authority based on his up-bringing that he had to allow his boss, President Sirleaf approve the letter before sending same to the law made even having it published in several local dallies which would cost him a little over US$ 800.
The confirmation process which stalled the plenary session making that body to begin regular session at 4:p.m. thereby leading to the passage of the over US$600 million fiscal budget, was attended by over 15 of the senators who should have constituted a quorum in plenary.
Meanwhile, Werner is the first among recent nominees designated to join President Sirleaf’s finishing team to face the Senate committee for confirmation hearing. Another nominee is Mr. Gyude Moore to Public Works Ministry and when confirmed as Minister he will be operating the largest budgetary allotment in the national budget.
Already, the Minister-designate Gyude Moore yesterday met with members of the committee on Public Works in what is termed a conference before confirmation hearing is opened to the public, which is fairly a new strategy for confirmation proceeded by the Liberian Senate.
The hearing for Mr. Moore’s confirmation is expected today which is also a regular session day.The rest are expected to continue trooping in at the Liberian Senate this week to have their confirmation hearing conducted.
Meanwhile, President Sirleaf’s additional appointments in government affect the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and local government structures. These appointments are subject to confirmation by the Liberian Senate, where applicable.
They include, Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs; Mr. Sylvester Grigsby, Minister of State Without Portfolio; Ministry of Labor, Mr. J. Levi Demmah, Deputy Minister for Human Resource and Development; and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr. TeekoYorlay, Assistant Minister for Youth Development.
Others are the National Oil Company of Liberia, Mr. Peter Bonner Jallah, Member, Board of Directors; Temple of Justice, Florence WeadeStemn-Wesley, Justice of the Peace & Notary Public; while the local Government appointments are; River Gee County, Philip T. Jah, Superintendent; Joseph D. Bohlen, Assistant Superintendent for Development; Gbarpolu County, ArmahSarnor, Superintendent; Paul M. Kimba, Assistant Superintendent for Development and Mulbah B. Manow, Commissioner, Belle District.
Others nominated are Sinoe County, Thomas Romeo Quioh, Superintendent, Sneh Johnson; Assistant Superintendent for Development, RanseySnoh, Township Commissioner, Du-Wolee Township and River Cess County; Matthew Daniels, Superintendent, Ruth Sawmadal, Assistant Superintendent for Development; while in Maryland County; Betsy Toe Kouh, Superintendent, George Prowd, City Mayor, Harper City, and Noria G. Sieh, Commissioner, Yederobo Administrative District Karluway Statutory District.
Those nominated for Nimba County are Dor Cooper, Assistant Superintendent for Development, Ben Dokpa, Mayor, Ganta City, NimbaCounty, and Bomi County; Momo G. Siryon, Assistant Superintendent for Development, Suehn Mecca District, and while in Grand Kru County, Abraham Gray is appointed District Commissioner, Barclayville District.