-Minister Tarpeh Fires Back At Madam Wolokollie

By Mark N. Mengonfia:

Commerce Minister,  Professor Wilson Tarpeh has denied all allegations made against him by dismissed Deputy Commerce Minister for Small Business Administration, Jemama Wolokollie describing all as ‘lies and unfounded.’

Recently, the dismissed Deputy Minister for Small Business Administration accused Minister Tarpeh of misapplying L$513,000.00 out of the loan of US$3m intended for small businesses in the country.

According to her, she has no knowledge of how beneficiaries of such money were selected, no documents despite her office having an oversight at that time.

But addressing a news conference Wednesday, Minister Tarpeh said “let me categorically state here that all of these allegations and others like them are grossly baseless, false, and unfounded.”

Minister Tarpeh indicated that the accusations are nothing, but the product of a depraved mind of a functional illiterate.”

He went on to refute the claims that he hasn’t been managing the loan programs as was said by madam Wolokollie.  “For the record, the loan program is administered, managed and operated by the Liberia Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI),” he said.

He clarified that the Ministry of Commerce only provides strategic oversight and guidance as a sector Ministry.

In his justification as to how the loan came to the picture, Minister Tarpeh said in 2018, President George Weah launched the Small Business Pro-Poor Development Fund (SBPDF), and provided the sum of US$1million and the LBDI committed the amount of US$2million completing the total funding for the loan to US$3Million.

He indicated that out of the anticipated US$3million for the program, the Liberian Government made a cash down payment of US$1million while; LBDI made initial deposit of US$1million bringing the total available to the SBPDF to US$2million.

Although, the LBDI made good their promise to the loan, but the Commerce Minister said no one outside of the LBDI has access to the account created by the MOCI.

He said “as of July 3, 2020, the account had credit balance of US$957,582.24.00. There are two check payment transactions over this account since its opening.”

Minister Tarpeh said the dismissed Deputy Minister authorized the first payment of US$33,216.00 for training reportedly conducted which he [Minister Tarpeh] is not sure of.

“Mrs. Wolokollie also requested and authorized a payment of US$8,380.80 to cover the cost of advertisement and associated activities that she said were needed to support the SBPDF. How can she say she knew nothing about the account when she signed the checks drawn on the account,” Tarpeh said as he displayed copy of his statement.

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