REPORT: Liberian Foreign Minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan Resignation Links To Japanese Grant Misapplication

Credible source within the Liberian Government circle has revealed that the resignation of Liberian Foreign Affairs Minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan  is not because of his quest to join the 2017 political race, but because he was allegedly linked to the misapplication of  the Japanese grant  donated to the Liberian Government early this year.

Recently some officials of the Ministry Foreign Affairs were being investigated for the expenditure of a 50% transfer valued at LR$33,474,197.00 (US$ 365,711.00) which was requested, approved by the Minister and transferred from GoL consolidated account to the Project's account at Afriland Bank, an amount that was expended. Currently, the President has dismissed one official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Minister Thomas Kaydor for his alleged role in the mismanagement of the Japanese fund. But how far will the mandated audit and investigation go remains a million dollar unanswered question.

Japan is one of Liberia's reliable international partners as both countries have long subsisting diplomatic relations, transcending into assistances from the powerful Asian country which is regarded as one of the world's biggest economies. Japan, like other countries, has provided numerous assistances to Liberia through grants to different sectors of the country; but it seems from successive investigations, audits conducted on Japanese donations has shown that accountability remains a huge problem for numerous Japanese sponsored projects in Liberia.

Following the election of the first democratic government in Liberia after more than a decade of civil strife wars, Japan has provided grants to different sectors of the country ranging from capacity building, rice, petroleum products, infrastructure and others. Currently the Japanese are the sponsors of the essential Somalia Drive Road with construction expected to commence soon. But in wake of these donations, Liberia finds itself in a sticky situation–many of the Japanese sponsored projects are mismanaged, thereby sending a wrong signal.

Over the years, Japanese sponsored projects have been in the limelight over improper management. Embarrassed by a recent financial scandal that has rocked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where a Japanese support for Institutional and Human Resource Support Project under the department of International Cooperation at that Ministry was mismanaged, President Sirleaf has ordered a full scale investigation into the saga along with all Japanese sponsored projects around the country.

The Executive Mansion announced that the Liberian leader has ordered the "full scale investigation" following the receipt of preliminary investigation reports by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, on the slow pace of implementation and allegations of financial improprieties in some of the seven social and economic development projects supported by the Japanese Government.

According to the office of the President, the projects in question include the Institutional and Human Resource Support Project under the department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the construction of three bridges in Grand Cape Mount County managed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the construction of five storage facilities and the Paddy and Seed Rice Project, Phase two managed by the Ministry of Agriculture; and the LIFE and Small Medium Enterprise (SME) Projects managed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

President Sirleaf at the same time further mandated the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to expeditiously conduct a comprehensive forensic audit of the finances of the projects, while also ordering the Ministry of Justice to continue its investigations into the implementation of the projects, in close collaboration with the GAC and relevant institutions with the view to identifying and subsequently prosecuting those who may be culpable for any improprieties.

The President mandate is based on the alleged mismanagement of a Japanese Government grant valued at US$ 731,422.00 (Seven hundred thirty one thousand four hundred twenty two united states dollars) to fund a project titled "Institutional and Human Resource Support for Efficient Operation of the Department of International Economic Cooperation and Integration (IECI)".

Credit:PFA

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