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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Liberia: Senate Pardons Public Works Minister for Dirt Roads Spending Amid Procurement Controversy

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The Liberian Senate has granted a pardon to Public Works Minister Roland Giddings and other officials regarding the execution of a US$22.4 million dirt roads connectivity project that bypassed procurement procedures.

The decision was reached on Tuesday following a recommendation from a joint committee comprising members from Public Works and Rural Development, Public Accounts, and Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims, and Petitions.

The committee proposed pardoning the ministers involved, considering their actions as an inadvertent misstep made with good intentions in the national interest. Minister Giddings, along with the Ministers of Justice and Finance, and the Executive Director of the Public Procurement Concession Commission, expressed apologies during the session held on May 28, 2024.

Plenary accepted the apology but issued warning letters to each official, cautioning against any repeat of similar actions to avoid direct consequences.

Senators raised concerns over the awarding of 10 contracts totaling US$22.4 million without adherence to procurement procedures and lack of relevant legislative approval. Senators Nathaniel F. McGill, Simeon B. Taylor, Gbehnzohngar M. Findley, and Abe Darous Dillon were among those voicing these complaints.

In addition to the pardon, the Senate committee mandated Minister Giddings to provide quarterly reports on road maintenance and works progress, develop an annual road work plan covering all fifteen counties before the submission of the fiscal budget draft to the Senate.

Furthermore, the Plenary instructed the Secretary of the Senate to summon the Minister of Public Works to provide a status report on road projects and address inquiries, including concerns about double contracts awarded to contractors.


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