Liberia: Country’s Road Fund Manager Concedes Over US$9million Not In Accounts

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Millions of United States dollars collected via fuel levy for the maintenance and rehabilitation of roads in Liberia have not been deposited into designated road fund accounts as required by a December, 2016 legislation, official said Monday in the capital Monrovia.

Boniface D. Satu, the country’s National Road Fund Manager told New Democrat of all funds collected over 60% has been deposited into the road funds accounts.

But an official document he gave New Democrat reads between July 2018 to Feb. 2019, the Liberia Revenue Authority collected and deposited into government’s operational accounts US$18.1million. Only US$8.2million of that amount was remitted into the National Road Fund Escrow account at the Central Bank of Liberia, while US$9.8 million are still “due from government.”

This means fees (fuel levy) collected but that have not been remitted into road fund accounts are more than what New Democrat reported April 8 as expressed by the international donor community.

International development partners supporting the strengthening of Liberia’s roads network including the European Union, the German Corporation, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Embassy of Sweden said the approximately $US 13.2 million, which the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) collected as at January 2019, only $US 8.2 million has been transferred to the NRF accounts.

Transfers into the accounts are lagging two to three months behind scheduled; the partners said fearing government could be tempted to increasingly rely on the road fund levy to cover non-road related expenses.

“We agree.. three to four months the money has not been remitted into the accounts,” Satu said.

“We all understand there are some challenges and difficulties surround government as we speak. There is a way we monitor how the money goes into the accounts.

He explained cumbersome bureaucracy, which requires the generated funds go through 15 steps before hitting the road fund accounts are to blame for the outstanding  amount due from government.

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning is working with the Central Bank to ensure the money is deposited directly into the road accounts, Satu said.

The National Road Fund (NRF) of Liberia was established by a legislative act in 2016 to finance maintenance and rehabilitation of roads and bridges for the purpose of keeping good roads from going bad. The fund comprises monies raised through appropriations of the Government of Liberia (GOL), grants and loans by international partners, road user charges (fuel levy) and other sources.

According to The United States Agency for Development (USAID) only 7% of Liberia’s 66,000 miles of roads is paved.

– Festus Poquie