Prof. Tarpeh Takes Further Steps Towards Transparancy-Calls For GAC Audit

Prof. Tarpeh in relaxed mood
Prof. Tarpeh in relaxed mood
Photo Credit: DPA

Thursday: July 23,2020: Since Madam Jamima Wolokollie was recently dismissed by President George Mannah Weah, as Deputy Commerce Minister for Small Business Administration, she has apparently refused to slow down in her accusations against her former boss, Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh, regarding the Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund (SBPDF), launched by the Liberian Government through the  Ministry of Commerce and Industry to   support Liberian-owned Small and Medium Enterprises across the  country.

 

Madam Wolokollie, who has been appearing on several radio stations as well making use of spaces being offered by a number of local dailies, keeps saying that   she had no part to play in how funds were given out to people under the Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund (SBPDF).

 

However, Minister Tarpeh, following what political pundits described as careful reflection on the recently dismissed Deputy Commerce Minister for Small Business Administration’s accusation against him, held a major press conference on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, brushing aside such utterances. 

 

The Commerce and Industry Minister did not only deny the accusations by  Madam Wolokollie, but backed his denial of any wrong doing in the process with tangible financial documents to prove that the accusations laid at his door stairs were far from the reality.

 

As part of efforts to get to the bottom of the matter and to further lay to rest, through an evidence-based approach, any doubt that may be hanging over the matter, Minister Tarpeh, has taken another bold step forward by calling on the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct  an audit of the Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund (SBPDF).

An official communication to the GAC, referenced “MCI/WKT-M/0080/’2020” is dated July 15. 2020 and signed by Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh, in his capacity as Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Liberia.

In the communication, Prof. Tarpeh, recounted that the fund was launched officially by President George Weah, in 2018 to support Liberian-owned small and medium enterprises, with an initial startup amount of One Million United States dollars.

He explained further that the   startup amount was matched with an additional amount of One Million United States Dollars by the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), noting that the SBPDF program is solely managed and operated by the LBDI.

A portion of Professor Tarpeh’s July 15, 2020 Communication to Liberia’s Auditor-General, Madam Yusador S. Gaye, reads:  “In view of the above, I am kindly requesting your good office to conduct a full audit on the above program as of June 30, 2020.

The communication continues, “I and members of my financial team at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will be available for any meetings you deem necessary that will assist you with the audit process.”

Commerce Minister Tarpeh, in his letter to the GAC boss, a copy of which was sent to the Chief of Staff and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, pledged his availability    for any meeting the GAC may deem necessary during the entire process.

In a relaxed mood during the July 8, 2020 major press conference at the Commerce Ministry at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, Minister Tarpeh noted that Madam Wolokollie’s utterances were grossly fabricated and unkindly twisted.

“Madam Wolokollie’s utterances are grossly baseless, false and unfounded, to the effect that the US$2 million allotted to small businesses under the Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund (SBPDF) was “misused.” Professor Tarpeh said.

 

He also noted that the accusation by the former deputy minister was nothing but a product of a “depraved mind of a functional illiterate.”

“For the record, the loan program is administered, managed and operated by the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI). The Ministry only provides strategic oversight and guidance as a sector Ministry,” Minister Tarpeh, said during the press conference.

 

“Ms. Wolokollie claims that she knows nothing about the SBPDF Account and the financial activities of the project because it was not handled by her office. This is a blatant lie because Wolokollie is one of the “A” signatories to the account,” Minister Tarpeh added.

“In other words, the LBDI’s contribution is not in the SBPDB Account opened by the Commerce Ministry, but is available to the loan program. The amount is, however, reflected in the total loan resources available under this program. As of July 3, 2020, the account had a credit balance of US$957,582.34,” Prof. Tarpeh noted.

 

He stated further that there are two check payment transactions over this account since its opening, and Ms. Wolokollie authorized the first payment of US$33,216.00 for training she “reportedly conducted.”

 

It can be recalled that Madam Wolokollie, appearing on a local radio, alleged that there were no records of loan disbursements, including borrowers, addresses, loan amounts, interest rates, tenure and maturity, something Professor Tarpeh also rejected.

“How can she say she knew nothing about the account when she signed the checks drawn on the account as indicated in documents marked Exhibits A, B, C, and D?” Minister Tarpeh wondered.

 

In December 2018, President George Manneh Weah, formally launched the Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund (SBPDF), with the Government of Liberia contributing an initial amount of US$1 million, while the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) committed US$2 million to the project, bringing the program to a total of US$3 million; but the bank has only paid or disbursed the first US$1 million.

 

Jacob N.B. Parley

Communications Director

Emails: jacobtheancestor@yahoo.com

Contacts: 0777604576/0886560455