…over Misuse Of Project Funds

Monrovia-The Workers Association of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAAWA) has expressed graveconcern over the misapplication of project funds within the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).

In a press statement issued Wednesday, NaFAAWA called on the President of Liberia, H.E. Joseph Nyumah Boakai, Sr. to take action as soon as possible to safeguard the image and integrity of NaFAA and the Rescue Mission.

Its call comes in the wake of recent investigations by the World Bank mission which uncovered discrepancies in the allocation and utilization of the World Bank-funded Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries Project (LSMFP) funds, and directly implicated Madam Emma Metieh Glassco, Director General of NaFAA.

The findings of the World Bank Mission, a copy of which is in our possession, revealed shocking instances where allocated project funds were diverted for unauthorized purposes, contrary to the intended objectives and guidelines set forth in the Project Appraisal Document (PAD). This blatant misuse of funds represents a breach of trust and fiduciary responsibility.

The Mission findings further revealed that Madam Glassco has rejected the project’s proposal to build a climate-smart state-of-the-art headquarters for NaFAA and has diverted the US 3 million dollars allocated for this purpose to purchasing vehicles and generators which are not being utilized by the project.

Disturbingly, the two 100KVA generators are in use at the residence of Madam Glassco and the vehicles are being used at the discretion of Madam Glassco while the project has only two cars for its operations.

Despite encouragement from the World Bank Mission to return these assets to the project, Madam Glassco has refused to comply.

The fisheries sector of Liberia lacks basic infrastructures including an administrative building with adequate workspace compared to our sub-regional counterparts such as Sierra Leone, Ghana. Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire etc.

Additionally, the two offices of NaFAA are not providing adequate or conducive workspace and environment for the over 200 plus staff of NaFAA.

Directors and their subordinates are balloons in one small office with no space, and even the office per department cannot provide the workspace needed for all the staff of a department. As a result, staffs are seen sitting underneath the trees, in corridors or sitting in the conference room during working hours.

The refusal of the Director General to construct the headquarterof NaFAA is the testament of her lack of vision for the fisheries and aquaculture sector. This has led to the running of the two offices of NaFAA that have proven to be cost intensive and NaFAA on its own cannot independently afford the running cost of both buildings. That is the reason why the LSMFP Component 4 operational budget is almost depleted.

Moreover, the LSMFP will be constructing a fishing port at the technical office and during that period and after, the three technical departments currently occupying the building will not be allowed to use their offices. The original design for the technical building office was to only host the FMC and the inspectorate program including the competent lab, while the rest of the offices will be used by the port management.

The Association said her misapplication of donors’ funds does not only undermine the credibility of NaFAA, it betrays the public trusts, and will serve as an impediment for international partners to support the institution.

Besides misappropriating World Bank funds, NaFAA has also been involved in mishandling donor materials intended for fishermen and fishmongers, and diverting materials intended for fishermen to political stakeholders in the past regime, the statement said.

NaFAAWA reiterates her VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in Madam Glassco as Director General of NaFAA as she has become overbearing in the discharge of her duties.

“When the CDC-led government selected Madam Glassco as head of a newly established autonomous institution, with no prior leadership or management records, she was a danger waiting to happen to the fisheries sector,” the NaFAAWA stated.

They claimed that Madam Glassco is the damage that is happening to the fisheries sector, adding “and if caution is not taken immediately, if her quest to further attain wealth, institute bad labor practices, violate all laws governing NaFAA is not halted by this Government, the potential of this sector will never be realized, professionals will abandon their inspirations to develop the institution, and fishermen who should be the symbol of growth in the sector will remain dejected, impoverished and ill-prepared to meet future challenges. There will be irreversible consequences from the damage which Madam Glassco intends to leave behind at NaFAA.”

NaFAAWA indicated that a resolution for the vote of no confidence was communicated to the chairman and all members of the Board of NaFAA, the Office of the President, the House’s committee on Fisheries, the Minister of Labor, and all relevant authorities since May 2, 2024, and no redress has been made.

:NaFAA is currently divided, and senior staff who have worked tirelessly to support the reformation in the sector have been sidelined at the detriment of the institution while Madam Glassco walks around in vainglory threatening to get rid of staffs when the dust settles,” NaFAAWA noted.

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