‘Slippery’ Japanese Donation -Reminder Of Previous Grants Scandal

Following the signing of exchanges of notes between the Japanese and Liberian Ambassadors on August 6, 2020, the Liberian Government has been sternly cautioned to be mindful of ‘slippery’ Japanese donation, a troubling reminder of the unfortunate debacle of the 2014 Japanese grants which made serious disturbing headlines both at home and abroad which severely marred the country’s image in the community of Food Aid Agreement between the two countries.

Concerned Liberians who still find it so difficult to forget and moreover forgive the bleak scenario that attended the two separate agreements aimed at enhancing Liberia’s food security and boosting the country’s energy sector valued US$33.5 million.

The concerned citizens who also are frightened about the immense damage corruption is doing and remain absolutely resolute to continue against the pedigree of this nation especially in an administration where there are countless instances of unsuriously unchecked corruption-propelled actions and activities, noted that with the most needed Japanese donation including medical equipment, supplies coupled with food aid in the environment plagued by COVID-19; it is a tall challenge for the government to successfully weather the ‘slippery’ Japanese grants unlike the US$33.5 million.

According to them, although history is a robust and open-ended reminder of things happened, but with the chronic and undeterred will- power on the part of some regimes, as evidenced by what was demonstrated from the implication of this administration without acquiescence of the international community’s whose money was invaded and spent by this same government and had to be compelled to replace immediately; and with some medical facilities nationwide directly or indirectly allegedly linked to some movers and shakers in the society with profound influence, a sizeable portion of the medical supplies could quietly end up in those directions at the most detriment of the places earmarked for utilization in this crusading pandemic era.

While the concerned Liberians according to them, are being completely grateful to the Japanese Government for its care and anxiety about the health and food security, and other humanitarian assistance to the people of Liberia; however, the scar of the misused of previous grants is still fresh today and much more worrisome when honesty, transparency and accountability are not a serious hallmark of the governance system.

At the same time, the Governments of Japan and Liberia have signed two Exchanges of Notes on Japanese Grant Assistances totaling 350,000,000 Japanese Yen, which is approximately US$3.3 million.

The Exchanges of Notes were signed by Ambassadors HimenoTsutomu, of Japan to Liberia and Geneviene A. Kennedy in Accra, Ghana.

In a release from the Japanese Embassy, the signing of the notes took place on August 6, 2020 and during the ceremony in Accra, Ambassador Himeno noted that “these grant assistances are the showcase of the strong Japan-Liberia friendship and partnership.”

Amb. Alzso pointed out that “it is the wish of the people and the Government of Japan that this assistance will make valuable contribution to complementing the efforts of the people and the Government of Liberia in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and chronic food insecurity.”

According to the release, the grant assistance from Tokyo includes the supply of medical equipment through the economic and social development program to help Liberia respond to global challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The assistance from the Japan government will also see the provision of high standard medical equipment to health facilities in Liberia.

Besides the grant, the Japanese government will also donate several medical equipment worth about US$950,000 which will include two portable ultrasound scanners to the JFK Hospital, two electrocardiogram, two blood gas analyzer, 10 syringe pumps, one centrifuge, ten laryngoscopes, ten suction units, and ten medical Oxygen Cylinder(1400litter).

 

The equipment includes two portable ultrasound scanners to the JFK Hospital, two electrocardiogram, two blood gas analyzer, 10 syringe pumps, one centrifuge, ten laryngoscopes, ten suction units, and ten medical Oxygen Cylinder(1400litter).

The equipmentin addition will also comprise 10 blood pressure manometers, 10 stethoscopes, one ultora low temperatures, one autoclave, two ultrasonic cleaners, two oxygen generators, 10 portable water purifier, five hospital beds and ICU bed, 10 folding stretchers, eight incubators, 10 disposal disinfectant, 10 IV stands, 10 stretcher, and two thermography.

In addition to the grant assistance, the Japanese government is also implementing projects to support the health sector of Liberia through the provision of medical equipment for infectious disease, technical assistance and strengthening capacities through UNICEF.

Moreover, Japan is also initiating a food assistance program to alleviate the country’s food shortages; from “human security, the Japanese Government will provide grant aid to procure rice.

It can be recalled that The Food Aid Grant valued at about US$8.5 million while the Monrovia Power System Project is put at US$25 million. The two ceremonies were held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan signed on behalf of the Liberian Government during both ceremonies while Japanese Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Naoto Nikai signed for Japan for the Food Aid Grant while Mr. Jiro Inamura, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed for his country during the Monrovia Power System Project agreement.

Foreign Minister Ngafuan expressed happiness over the Japanese Food Aid Grant which he said has narrowed the wide gap between Liberia’s rice production and natural resource endowment.

Minister Ngafuan said the Liberian Government is profusely grateful for Japan’s assistance to Liberia and its’ continuous support to Liberia’s recovery since both countries established diplomatic ties in 1962.

He said the agreement will primarily improve Liberia’s food sovereignty. The Foreign Minister then recounted the huge impact Japan’s Food Assistance Program has been having in Liberia, particularly in Lofa, Gbarpolu, Bong, Grand Gedeh and Nimba Counties.

Again, the ‘Japanese Grants’ in the amount of US$731,412.00 was given to the Liberian Government in 2014 for the sole purpose of building the country’s institutional capacity of the department of International Economic Cooperation and Integration (IECI) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, on August 30, 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), consignee, on behalf of the Government of Liberia, and the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), the implementing agent for the monetization of the Japanese donated petroleum products.

A similar MOU was signed between the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) LPRC, and Aminata & Sons.

But, Aaron Henry Aboah, program manager for enforcement at the Liberia Anit-Corruption Commission (LACC)  told a crowded courtroom at the Criminal Court ‘C’ that Aminata & Sons Petroleum Company duped the government of US$5,788,134.01 as an excess income which the company unjustly accrued when they sold the Japanese Oil Grant.

The 15,000 metric tons (MT) of petroleum products valued at US$13,000,000 was donated by the Government of Japan to the Government of Liberia to be used to support development initiatives in the country under a grant arrangement, provision of which was conveyed in an
Exchange of Notes between the donor (Japan) and the recipient (Liberia) in 2011.

In his testimony, Aboah, the LACC’s second witness, alleged that the petroleum company after selling the not-for-profit product, which included diesel and gasoline, “criminally managed to deposit an amount of US$8,504,177.50, holding back US$5,788,134.01.”
Aboah further alleged that the plot was uncovered during an audit conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).

The witness claimed that Aminata & Sons also sold the product at the then market price of US$4.22 and US$4.37, without taking into consideration the gift element of the Japanese Oil of 21.19 percent of the market price.

He alleged that the company sold the products (both diesel and gasoline) for US$4.22 and US$4.37, of which the petroleum company realized a surplus amount of US$5,788,134.01, contrary to the agreed pump price.

Although, Aboah claimed, defendant Turay, as part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), should have carried out public awareness, he alleged that did not happen.

Aminata & Sons, according to him, was requested to provide original invoices as well as other original supporting documentation to support the sale of the oil, but the company failed to provide the documents requested.

“On the issue of public awareness as indicated in the MOU,” the LACC witness quoted Turay as saying, “That money is still in my possession and I would make restitution.”

Aboah said, “We discovered that the product was wrongfully given to Aminata & Sons without the MOC and LPRC observing the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) that calls for a bidding process of which the two public entities did not exercise due diligence.

“As to the distribution of the product the record does not show as to how much was generated from each consignment that was turned over to Aminata & Sons. The record only managed to show the quantity that was given to the company and did not reflect the amount that the product was sold for,” Aboah said.

-Writes GDJ

 

 

 

 

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