President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says the US$5 million provided by the Liberian Government to the National Ebola Trust Fund was well spent. The President’s statement comes in the wake of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit report which indicates that US$800,000 cannot be accounted for.
In an interactive forum with journalists Monday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, President Johnson-Sirleaf said the US$5 million was spent at the time when Ebola was raging havoc on Liberia. She said at the time it was difficult to put system in place as the government was concerned about saving lives. “If you buy a bus to save lives and people say you did not follow the procedures, then you can judge for yourself whether it was in the interest of the people,” the President added.
The Liberian leader further said the US$5 million was spent at the time when there was no support coming from the international community to fight Ebola. She said during that period, the government took difficult decisions, some of which were against the culture of Liberia, such as the cremation of Ebola bodies. The President said during the Ebola period, some procedures may not have been followed but maintained that it was done to save lives.
President Johnson-Sirleaf said it is because of the ‘difficult decisions’ the government took that brought significant progress in the fight against the killer virus. The GAC, in its report alleged that most of the funds appeared to be shrouded by irregularity and lack of fiscal probity. GAC said the conduct of the affairs of the National Ebola Trust Fund (NETF) was marred by financial irregularities and material control deficiencies.
In its report published on the GAC web site, the Commission analyzed how more than US$13 million were spent by the National Ebola Trust Fund.
According to the report, most of the funding came from foreign donations. However, the report said the audit did not include donations from international organizations such as the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), EU and other foreign donors whose contributions did not flow through the NETF.