UN Writes Liberia, ‘Unhappy’ With Poor Financial Reporting

UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia Yacoub El Hillo

The reckless financial malfeasance in accounting for donor project funding which is dogging the Liberian Government has now drawn the attention of the local office of the United Nations.

The UN, in a letter to Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel F.  McGill said, “in the last few months, several agencies experienced challenges in getting timely and accurate reports from their Government counterparts thereby delaying implementation of essential services and advisory support to the people of Liberia. In the medium to long term, this may lead to the withholding of funding by our partners for UN programmes in Liberia with all the attendant negative consequences”

The letter from the UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia Yacoub El Hillo reminded the Liberian Government that, “…Under the National Implementation Modality (NIM), we expect that implementing partners assume full responsibility for the effective use of the resources advanced to them and for reporting fairly and accurately on project progress and agreed work plans in accordance with the reporting schedule. They are expected to maintain documentation and evidence that describes the proper and prudent use of project resources.”

According to the UN Project implementation which began a few years ago, it initially was “mainly Direct Implementation Modality (DIM), whereby financial transactions of the Programmes/projects are directly paid by the UNDP Country Office. The responsibility of the Country Office (CO) was not only for the disbursement of funds, but also for the financial accounting, recording, documenting and reporting to donors and UNDP Headquarters on the use of funds rather than the Government”

But that approach was changed to allow for cash advancements to support projects in Liberia under a streamlined model.

UN projects are designed to support capacity building of Liberia’s Ministries and Agencies.

UN Letter To Government of Liberia

The UN letter to the Liberian Presidency is direct acknowledgment that there are wide gaps in the accountability regime over the use of UN funds advanced to Liberia, especially under the Weah Administration.

There is no indication that the Government of Liberia has responded to the UN letter.

The small West African country is saddled with a host of difficult economic issues and lack of technical capacity which are compounding its ability to address its international commitment to best practices  and accountability for donor resources.

The Government has failed to demonstrate the will to address corruption and the ever expanding and recurring wage bill; some conditions which are sapping valuable resources.

Sources in Government say donor funding are being diverted to service other needs in Government such as unfunded liabilities and non-budgetary expenses which Government continues to take on.

International donors have been privately complaining to the Weah Administration for over a year about lack of transparency in the use of their funding.

The Resident UN official warned the Liberian Government that, “…In extreme conditions where the cash advance modality is not being used correctly by implementing partners, the UN Agencies, Fund And Programme and  revert to Direct Implementation Modality (DIM) to avoid risk of delays in  programme implementation.”

Last week, Liberia’s Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah floated a “Government Bond” scheme as an effort to raise much needed cash for the struggling Administration.

The rapid decline of the local currency the Liberian Dollar is putting huge pressure on the flailing Government to quickly provide relief to avoid social backlash.

But the idea is already facing resistance, skepticism and ridicule due to the public crisis of confidence in Government’s poor fiscal management ability.

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