By Alex Yomah
Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darius Dillon has accused his colleagues on Capitol Hill of receiving kickbacks to promptly approve a recast budget recently passed by the House of Representatives intended to address the needs associated with the Covid-19 in the country.
Senator Dillon’s accusation followed the approval of the recast budget in the amount of $518 million United States dollars by members of the Liberian Senate on Friday, May 22, 2020 in which Dillon alleged that the Liberian Senate did not do due diligence before the passage as house of elders.
Dillon, who was seen in an ecstatic mood, attempted several times to disrupt session on grounds that the budget submitted to Senate Committee on Ways and Means to deliberate was not allowed to report back to plenary session for deliberations as to afford Senators the chance to examine it before passage.
The Senator, in an unusual outburst, alleged that money exchanged hands to have expeditiously concurred with the House of Representatives to approve the recast budget.
“My information is money is passing around. Money is in this building and it has compromised these people’s courage to stand-up for the Liberian people,” he noted.
“Today, this Liberian Senate in its uselessness has concurred with the House of Representatives; judging from the sad faces of staffers in the building and see how the country looks. Citizens are mournful because nobody is here to protect them. You get men with name but no spines, no integrity,” Dillon vented his anger.
“This Liberian Senate is rotten! It is meaningless! It is useless and so, so spineless people in majority are here. None of them can even say a word. I am surprised by these people who signed this resolution without reading it,” he said.
According to Dillon, in the quest to allow everything from the Executive meet the Legislature’s approval without thorough probe; they have also approved the recast budget without knowing or establishing how the government will secure the loan that is also mentioned in the said budget.
“I have thought we would have probed the loan because this decision bounds Liberia to a future payment; we needed to know the duration, interest rate if there any but disgustingly, the Senate went ahead and annul all the legal instruments principally ratified,” he expressed regrets.
“Today, shockingly the Pro-temp brought a resolution on the floor for us to pass the budget without having a report from the Ways and Means Committee’s decision. It is shocking; it is egregious and should never happened in the history of Liberia when we say we are representing the people”, he said.
Due to Dillon’s several attempts to disrupt session, the Senate Pro-tempt ordered the state security assigned to him to throw Dillon out of session and in a defiant mood he challenged the Pro-temp threatening to order for his personal security.
Apparently in response to Dillon, minutes after the Senate concurred with the House of Representatives in its totality, the Senate Chairperson on Executive, Senator Saah Joseph along with the Chairperson on Ways and Means, Morris Saytumah had a joint press conference describing Dillon’s accusation that they had exchanged hands as reckless and unfounded .
Senator Joseph warned Dillon to desist from making what he called irresponsible statements against his colleagues’ hard earned reputations in the name of politics and stated that being an opposition and eager for re-election does not make any senator the valor to spew lies that have the tendency of derailing the integrity of the Liberian Senate and the country at large.
According Sen. Joseph, Dillon made similar accusation against the Senate when he was in the United States where he indicated that senators in Liberia were considered as criminals.
The Ways and Means Chairperson, Saytumah also noted that the urgency of this budget passage was critical to the covid-19 response. Denying Dillon’s claim, he explained that when the budget reached the committee, some members which comprised of representatives from the 15 counties agreed to prompt the passage of the Covid-19 budget.
“We could not further delay. After the budget was made we had a meeting and decided to have consultations amongst ourselves [committee’s members] and that we decided that we make prompt the budget report on the ways and means in terms of the passage of the budget and we decided to sign a resolution,” Sen. Saytumah clarified.
Responding to the US$10m deducted from the Ministry of Health’s budget, Senator Saytumah confirmed and said the decision was because the Executive added more to the Ministry of health’s budget particularly to the Covid-19 response team.
“In terms of the US$10m, yes, there was a US10m that may have left the MOH budget but US$ 42m is in circulation directed at the Ministry’s support the covid-19 action for response and of that amount, US$ 17.5m and US$25m were approved by the Legislature for food and that, that is also geared towards the covid-19 response,” Sen. Saytumah said.
“Money Exchanged Hands” For Recast Budget …Senator Dillon Alleges
By Alex Yomah