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MFDP Reacts to FPA over 'Questionable US$ 180k Taylor-ERA Debt' Story

Minister-Flomo-Reacting Deputy Minister of Economic Management making remarks during the press conference.

Monrovia, Liberia - It has been noticed that the FrontPage Africa (FPA) Newspaper is in the habit of releasing false information into the public space through its publication with the intent to bring the government of Liberia to public ridicule.

This is evidenced by its Monday, December 17, 2018 edition indicating that the Minister of State, Hon. N. McGill, wrote the Minister of Finance and Development, Planning Hon. Samuel Tweah authorizing him to make payment in favor of Rocktown Tools and Equipment.

The essence of this press statement is to refute the allegations made by FPA. Those allegations are: 
FPA Allegation
1. “Nearly all of the payment vouchers in FPA’s possession originates from the instruction from the Ministry of State headed by Minister Nathaniel McGill to the Ministry Finance”

MFDP Response
This allegation is not only false but misleading. The Domestic Debt Service flow goes through the following processes; 
a. potential claimant makes an official request to the Finance Minister about his/her claim. 
b. The FM sends it down the stream (Deputy Minister and Assist. Minister) and then arrive in the Debt Management Unit.
c. The Debt Management Unit reviews the claim based upon the supporting document (2008 KPMG audit, External rental claim audit and court judgment) and recommends decision for Debt Management Committee (DMC). The Debt Management Committee consists of four institutions, which include MFDP, CBL, MoJ, and MoS established by the PFM regulation. 
d. In addition to the controls, the Legal Department of the Ministry also provides Legal Opinion on all payments including domestic debts to determine the legal basis for such payment. 
e. All of the claims within the period are taken to DMC and decision is made. After the decision is made the minutes is used to request payment.

FPA Allegation
2. “FPA has learned that the payment to Rocktown was made in Liberia because the account of the company is no longer active in the State of New York.”

MFDP Response
This is also false and misleading. There has been absolutely no payment made to RockTwon up-to and including the call of this press conference. The payment is still being processed through our internal system at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).

FPA Allegation
3. “Based on the loopholes, a senior administration official told FrontPage Africa Sunday that the current government should have sought an appeal before agreeing to pay a dime.”

MFDP Response

Unfortunately, the current government cannot take an appeal of a case that was adjudicated in 2016 and final judgment made thereto. According to our records, after the rendition of the judgment, no further action was taken by the then GoL to perfect the appeal. As such, the claim automatically became a legal debt of the GoL.

To have made it appear that the current government is not responsible and didn’t take the necessary due diligence in effecting the payment process is not only preposterous but malicious as government is continuity. And because the government is continuity, this government is under a legal obligation to honor legitimate debts once she has the financial capacity to do so as such payments would not only improve the individual businesses but would also improve the general wellbeing of the economy.

KPMG Audit and Court Decision
While it may be true that Rocktown’s claim was rejected by the KPMG report, the claimant being dissatisfied took the matter to court and obtained a court judgment in its favor. As such, this government is under a legal obligation to respect all courts in the Republic including this ruling from the commercial court of the Republic of Liberia.

To conclude, the GoL by and through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning requests the FPA newspaper to retract its story titled “Kickback Suspected in US$180 k Taylor-Era Debt Paid to “Inactive’ New York Company” carried in its Monday, December 17, 2018 publication.

It is worthy to note that debt owed to media houses are also being paid, this trend will continue as we determine the legitimacy of the claim.

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