CESTOS CITY, River Cess – River Cess’ county information officer Isaac Williams has confirmed that the county council sitting which was earlier scheduled for Saturday, October 27 has been indefinitely postponed.
County councils are the highest decision-making bodies of each county. During these meetings, citizens from all parts of a county are expected to converge annually to decide on appropriations of the County and Social Development Funds for the budget year.
Speaking to The Bush Chicken via phone, Williams said there are several factors preventing the event from being held on the scheduled date.
“You know there are two components of the funds and the county has only received the county development component, which comes from the government,” Williams said. “As we speak, the fiscal superintendent and Sen. Dallas Gueh are still working out things to get the social development component, which comes from the concessions.”
Williams said another reason for the delay is the recent death of the husband of Rep. Rosanna G. Shaack of River Cess’ first district. Additionally, Rep. Byron Zahnwhea of the second district has been out of the country. Moreover, Williams said the county superintendent is sick and currently away for treatment.
Sen. Francis Paye had earlier said that the meeting would be suspended because previous funds had not been properly accounted for and that there was no need for another council sitting in the absence of the first report.
“Any attempt to hold county sitting without the previous report will be a breach of the new budget law,” Paye said. “After all, the money is in the county’s account. Why are they rushing to have county sitting?”
Paye said these funds should be accounted for before there can be any county council sitting in the county.
“The money is for the people of River Cess, and if we used it, we must tell them what we used it on before deciding on another one,” Paye said. “Let the people know what happened to their money, if I Paye ate it, let them know.
However, when contacted, the former chair of the Project Management Committee said the report is now ready and would be presented during the upcoming county council sitting. Elijah Kassaynee now serves as the assistant superintendent for fiscal affairs.
“It is during county council sittings that people make financial reports and not to individuals,” Kassaynee said. “We have all the reports and we are ready to present them during the sitting. If anyone has a problem, let them wait for the sitting.
River Cess did not receive its county social development funds for five fiscal years under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration because there were accountability issues with the administration of then-superintendent Wellington Geevon Smith. In response, the county’s legislative caucus placed a moratorium on the use of the county funds.
As a result, River Cess did not benefit from any major development projects during this time.
In 2016, the government placed US$380,000 of US$1.9 million owed to the county in the county’s account. That was after a county council sitting had been held and projects totaling US$1,145,000 were identified for funding. However, those projects have not been implemented as the county struggles to access the funds.
Another US$125,000 was released again to the county during the peak of the 2017 election season, according to Kassaynee.
Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue