Special Awards In Pictures

-Says Only GoL, AML To Their Mercy
The chairman of Grand Bassa County`s Project Management Committee (PMC), T. Wah Bedell has revealed that the county only received funding from the Liberian Government and ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML)

Although the Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC) and other companies are in the county, but Bedell said as far he is concerned, only US$200,000 from the Liberian Government and the US$1million provided by AML had been helping with the development agenda of the county.

Addressing investigative reporters under the guidance of the Liberia Media Center (LMC) and LAVI conducting investigation on the usage of the CSDF and Natural Resource Management (NRM) across the country, Bedell said the funding from the GoL and AML has been accumulating to US$1.2 million up to 2015 fiscal year. Bedell took over the mantle as chairman of the PMC on July 15, 2015 through election during the county council sitting.

The PMC’s chairperson was quick to point out that due to the global constraint regarding the sale of iron ore on the world market, AML has reduced the US$1million to half of million.

Although he expressed some sadness over this situation, but Bedell said the reduction just kicked off fiscal year 2016/2017. “Only Arcelormittal as a company is contributing. What is coming to the county that we know of as chairman of the PMC is the money from Mittal Steel. Besides, no company or organizations contributing to the county,” he said.

On Decisions Made At County Sitting:
Bedell further maintained that decisions regarding the development of the county are reached at the county council sitting through a participatory process. According to him, delegates are selected from the various districts in the county and civil society organizations in the county.

“At the county sitting, all of the projects are being resolved by the citizens themselves. After that we have to go through the compliance of the public procurement and concession commission (PPCC) through a procurement procedures, you applied to Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the checks go to escrow account, and then to Ministry of Internal Affairs. MIA will look at those resolved projects and critique those documents,” he added.

According to Bedell, there is an internal control system being put into place, saying MIA’s Audit department peruse the document and later write the banks responsible to allow the county to get the money.

Projects for fiscal year 2014/2015:

Bedell confidently told the investigative journalists that resolved projects for fiscal year 2014/2015 are 98-100 percent completed. For fiscal year 2014/2015, Bedell named projects undertaken by the county authority through the CSDF as the rehabilitation of the Ediana City Hall, the St. John City hall rehabilitation, compound#1 junior high now elevated to a high school, orange Groove checkpoint astrometric path, purchased of buses for the government hospital and GBCCC, rehabilitation of roads, construction of bridges, equipping of science lab, construction of schools among others.

The CSDF Background:

The government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal established the County Social Development Fund (CSDF) in fulfillment of Article 12 of the amended Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) between the two parties.

The fund was established as a part of ArcelorMittal’s Corporate Social Responsibility plan to benefit Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa counties. Under the MDA, ArcelorMittal is obliged to allocate US$3 million on an annual basis to the three counties where the company operate during the entire duration of its 25- yearlong concession.

These counties are Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa. According to the agreement Nimba County should receive US$1.5 million annually, Bong US$0.5 million, and Grand Bassa US$1 million.

The Local Communities:

Furthermore, 20% of each county’s allocation must be spent annually in communities classified as ‘directly affected by ArcelorMittal operations’. These allocations constitute the CSDF.

The priorities of the CSDF should be subject to consultations at the county and community level. The process should be facilitated by both ArcelorMittal and the government of Liberia through a Dedicated Funds Committee (DFC) established to manage the fund at the national level and by each county development management committees (CDMCs) in beneficiary counties.

In total, ArcelorMittal is expected to contribute approximately US$73 million over the 25 years lifespan of the MDA with the Government of Liberia. Of this amount, Nimba will receive US$36.5 million, Grand Bassa will receive US$24.3 million and Bong County will receive US$12.2 million.

The Structure Setup By The President:

The President also appointed three County Development Management Committees (CDMCs) in each of the beneficiary counties. The CDMCs include the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the County Superintendent, and the Legislative Caucus.

The Chairman of the Council of Chiefs in each county along with two additional persons named by the President also sits on the CDMC. The CDMC is charged with the overarching responsibility of managing the county allotment of the fund.

A Project Manager is hired by the CDMC to coordinate and monitor implementation of the approved projects. The DFC has oversight of the CDMC.

PMC Roles:

The primary mandate of the Project Management Committee (PMC) elected by the County Council include serving as the technical arm of the County Council in identifying and costing of projects, oversee and coordinate implementation of all approved projects, ensure that transaction documents relating to the spending of the County Development Funds are in conformity and compliance with the Public Procurement and Concession Act and budget implementation regulations, ensure that the County Development Funds are spent only on county development activities among others.

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