By Reuben Sei Waylaun
The Food Distribution Committee headed by Commerce and Industry Minister Wilson Tarpeh is said to be vindicated as the World Food Programme clarified circumstances surrounding the controversial US$9m out of the US$30m for the stimulus package.
For the past few days, the entire country went into serious debate as it was alleged that the Liberian Government has reportedly diverted US$9m out of the US$30m intended for the stimulus package; with some people saying it was given to the WFP.
The World Food Programme (WFP) was delegated with the responsibility of implementing the COHFSP given its capacity, experience and expertise in managing emergency relief programmes.
President George Manneh Weah also appointed a National Steering Committee (SC) headed by Minister Wilson K. Tarpeh to ensure an oversight mechanism to certify the COHFSP is implemented in the best interests of the f the affected populations at all times, and in all locations.
The SC is to provide the broad terms of reference for the food support programme; to provide strategic oversight to the programme; and offer advice to WFP – upon WFP’s request – on various logistical and methodological issues that might benefit from the SC’s expertise. All operational decisions regarding the execution of the COHFSP are made by the WFP and remain compliant with WFP’s rules and regulations to ensure transparency over the procurement and distribution of this important programme.
But critics say the World Food Programme was tasked with running the entire operation amounting to US$25 million, but the Liberian Government still twisted US$9million for operational and other expenses.
However, vocal talkshow host, Julius Jeh of Okay FM 99.5MHz wrote the WFP for official clarity on the issue and the organization through its Communication Sections in Liberia headed by John T. Monibah, Communications Associate, World Food Programme.
In an email to Julius Jeh, Monibah said
“The total budget of the food support programme is US$30 million. This comprises the cost of the food basket (rice, beans and vegetable oil) as well as the costs of storing, transporting and delivering the assistance to vulnerable households targeted under the programme. WFP has been requested by GOL to provide food for the 2.5 million people (planned). The value of the food is estimated at an approximate total cost of around US$20.4 million, pending final award of contracts to suppliers.”
“These are the costs that can be referred to as the operational costs. These are estimated at US$7.8 million. These costs include in-country transport cost, costs for cooperating partners supporting the distribution process, food safety and quality control, casual labour, household enumeration/registration, among others,” Monibah said in an email reply to Julius Jeh.
Responding to the latest controversial 6% of the total amount to the WFP, Monibah said “These include allocations toward the support costs of the Liberia Country Office (e.g. applicable rental costs, etc) and allocations toward the support costs of the WFP Headquarters/Regional Bureau, called Indirect Support Costs (ISC) Deductions for ISC allocations are applied to contributions made by donors to WFP operations in all countries of the world. The ISC rates and the framework guiding ISC-related issues are decided by the WFP Executive Board, which is made up of representatives from 36 member states of the United Nations or member nations of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.”
“Please note that ISC allocations are applied by WFP HQ to support investments in corporate systems and other capabilities essential to keep WFP at the cutting edge of humanitarian and development assistance, including in critical areas such as vulnerability assessment and mapping, supply chain management and logistics; resource management; food tracking and accountability; monitoring and evaluation; reporting and management of programme output and outcome data; accountability to affected populations/beneficiaries, among others. These allocations also facilitate investments in robust information and communications technology to facilitate the day-to-day work of WFP operations around the world. The allocations also allow WFP HQ to provide legal, auditing, compliance and other services to country offices; as well as guidance, oversight and other support in critical functional areas such as Programme, Logistics, Procurement, Finance, Human Resources, Administration, Information and Telecommunications, Security, Communications, Monitoring and Evaluation, among others,” Monibah further added.
Please click the link to read WFP Response to Media inquiry from Julius Jeh of OK FM 99.5MHz in Liberia: