The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

LISGIS Clarifies Media Report On Census Funds

The Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS)’s says its attention has been drawn to a medium’s online publication and social media post on March 29, 2022 under the headline, “Corruption Galore at LISGIS Stalling Census.?”
LISGIS said at no time did the FrontPage Africa Newspaper (FPA) speak to any internal auditor at that entity contrary to what was contained in its ‘sensational’ story.
While LISGIS still enjoys the confidence of the Liberian Government and its Partners, who are funding the operations of the census, the entity said the L$300,000, which was mentioned as the source of corruption in the story, wasn’t transferred to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) pool fund because said amount was in Liberian dollars in keeping with the government’s 40-60-percent transfer of United States dollars and Liberian dollars to agencies and ministries.
LISGIS clarified that converting the L$300,000 to United States dollars at the prevailing rate would have caused losses to the government looking at the translation difference since the pool-fund account only accepts United States dollars.
The government entity explained that the management team reached a decision to have the L$300,000 in its account for operational costs for transactions relating to activities of the census locally noting that this amount was reported and said period has been audited by the GAC.
LISGIS said it received US$1,150,000 and L$97,721,761.38 contrary to the US$1.8 million reported in the story which contained a litany of allegations.
“On February 13, 2019, LISGIS said it received US$700,000 and L$48,107,761.38 with the description “2019 National Housing & Population Census” and on October 28, 2021, it received US$450,000 and L$49,614,000 with the description “2019 National Housing & Population Census,” the entity stated further.
The management team said it was agreed that US$50,000 be withdrawn for census dissemination activities with all documents approved in keeping with its financial regulations, including raising vouchers.
However, at a presentation done at the census steering committee meeting, three budget scenarios were presented but scenario three, which projected a funding gap of US$6.5 million was accepted, the management reported.
The government and World Bank then pledged US$4 million (US$2 million each) while the United Nations system in Liberia promised US$500,000 and on March 28, the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP), with authorized signers Comptroller-General Janga A. Kowo, Deputy Minister Samora P. Z. Wolokollie and Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. authorized the Central Bank Governor, J. Aloysius Tarlue to transfer US$1 million and L$76,320,000 from the government accounts to LISGIS-UNFPA account.
LISGIS stated that the General Auditing Commission (GAC) conducted a June 2021 audit of the Harmonizing Improved Statistics in West Africa (HISWA) project at MFDP’s Project Financial Management Unit with zero trace of corruption and that, that report is available at GAC and LISGIS.
The HISWA project, under which the second phase of the geographic mappers’ training was funded, also offloaded the payment of US$2,417,800 156 geographic mappers, 36 supervisors and four coordinators for 11 months from April 2021 to February 2022.
In keeping with LISGIS’ partnership with the University of Liberia (UL) to improve and strengthen statistics under the HISWA project, four persons were sent to the Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana to pursue graduate degree in Population Studies.
UL President Dr. Julius S. Nelson revealed at the launch of LISGIS’ massive dissemination awareness on several statistical reports on 4 February 2022 at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium that the university is offering bachelor degree in statistics beginning academic 2021/2022 and 10 instructors will be sent to the Philippines to obtain master while one instructor will obtain doctoral degree in statistics to strengthen the program.
The reports include the 2022 NHPC Pre-Test Results, 2019/2020 Liberia Demographic & Health Survey (LDHS), 2021 National Account Survey, 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES), External Trade, Forest Sector Survey, Agriculture Projection Survey, Child Friendly Survey, Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey, High Frequency Monitoring Phone Survey and Consumer Price Index (CPI).
LISGIS and lead partner UNFPA have made significant progress in the process of conducting the 2022 National Population & Housing Census (NPHC) despite delays caused by Covid-19.
The NPHC began in April 2021 with the marking of all public and private buildings and structures in Liberia and this process, which is known as the mapping process, ended on February 28, 2022 with 19,225 enumeration areas (EAs).
Prior to its completion, a pre-test was carried out in December 2021, using a sample size of 228 EAs and the reason for conducting the pre-test was to test the questionnaires, materials and tools which should be used for the main census with the results having been concluded and analyzed.
As a result of the south-south cooperation between the governments of Liberia and Ghana, LISGIS received 21,000 tablets and 21,000 power banks from Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) for the conduct of the enumeration phase of the 2022 NPHC in June.
LISGIS is preparing these tablets by installing maps, geo-codes and other important software (CSPro) to begin the training phase this 5 April.
The tablets that were used for the geographic mapping and pre-test will be used for the training of trainers while the 21,000 tablets will be used for the census in June.
An application process to recruit 19,000 Liberians with a minimum qualification of high school diploma began on 4 March and ended on 4 April 2022.
LISGIS has also embarked on a massive dissemination awareness of the census, dividing the country into five zones of three regions, which has involved the use of traditional means of communications (town criers and town hall meetings).
Rumors circulating about the postponement of census are untrue and LISGIS encourages the public to welcome filed staff in their respective homes during the enumeration phase.
It is also important for the public to note that what is happening at LISGIS of recent is an internal issue relating to the removal of the census coordinator G. Alex Williams, who also serves as deputy director-general for statistics and data processing.
Mr. Williams was removed by the management of LISGIS on ground that he has incessantly embarrassed the director-general of LISGIS and the management team by his misconduct under the guise of conducting census activities.
These actions by Mr. Williams present a picture of a fragmented entity within the institution and/or census being a parallel organization alongside the LISGIS.
Additionally, he also made unilateral decisions on a very important constitutional issue like census without firstly bringing the details to management for discussion and approval.
Williams also refused to produce a liquidation report for fuel and scratch cards, which amounted to US$341,925.
As a preliminary step, Mr. Williams was replaced as census coordinator and a report was forwarded to the Board of Directors, headed by Finance & Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah.

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