Claim: “Since George Weah became President, no county in the South East can boast of receiving their Social Development Funds in four and full or half. Grand Gedeh is a good example.”
Verdict: Partly True
Full Text: A social media user took to Facebook that since George Weah became President, no county in the South East can boast of receiving their Social Development Funds in four and full or half. Grand Gedeh is a good example. The post generated 68 reactions, 169 comments and 1 share.
The creation of the County Development Fund (CDF) and the Social Development Fund (SDF) was welcomed by Liberians as a means of focusing national budget expenditures on the specific development needs of local communities.
The main objective of the CDF and SDF is to open a new window of opportunity for the promotion of social development at the county level and, therefore, to lend reality to the imperative of subsidiarity as a global response to sub-national demands for development policy attention.
In 2008, the Social Development Fund (SDF) was established for counties hosting concessions from international extractive concessionaires as negotiated in the Mineral Development Agreements (MDA).
The payment of the SDF is made to the national government by concession companies through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). In concessionaire counties, monies from the two sources-CDF and SDF were merged into the County Development Account called the County Social Development Fund (CSDF).
Watson Chelley, the social media user is the Executive Director of a local group called: Social Justice Network in Grand Gedeh County. Watson hails from Solo Town, in the Cavalla Administrative District, in Grand Gedeh County. He served as President of the Liberian National Student Union, Grand Gedeh Chapter 2012- 2014.
He has also served as the Liaison at the National Climate Change Secretariat at the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) for over six years, coordinating that institution’s operational activities.
Due to his active involvement in national politics and calls by a member of the public (Samuka V. Konneh) for the stage media to verify the information and feed the public with the truth, we launched the search.
The are six counties in Liberia’s south-eastern region– Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee, Sinoe, Grand Gedeh, and River Cess counties
Verification: We checked the Citizen Guide on the 2023 draft national budget in which the sum of US$200,000 is allocated to each County as their Social Development Fund.
We further checked the ‘Citizen Guide’ from 2018-2022 both contained US$200,000 allocations to each county as its County Social Development Fund.
In 2022, the House summons MFDP for ‘Delay in Payment’ of County Social Development Funds
Considering that most of the time, funds are allocated and are not disbursed at the end of the accounting period, we contacted some of the County Superintendents (Grand Gedeh and Grand Kru Counties) to verify the claim.
Both superintendent of Grand Gedeh and Grand Kru Counties disproved the information and said they have benefited and continue to benefit from the County Social Development Fund (CSDF) from 2018 to the present contrary to Chelley’s claim.
According to Superintendents Kai Farley and Doris Ylantun, their respective Counties are beneficiaries of the County Social Development Funds throughout the tenure of the ruling establishment.
Superintendent Kai Farley stated that Grand Gedeh County received UDS$200,000 as County Social Development Fund for both 2021 and 2022, disclosing that the county is in the process of receiving its 2023 county development fund in the tone of USD$1.5 million.
On the other hand, Superintendent Doris Ylantun admitted to receiving LD$200,000 each year from 2019 to present as the county portion of the County social development fund.
But both could not provide documentation to authenticate receipt of the funds.
We contacted the remaining four counties who said they could not comment on the claim.
TSM further take notice of a portion of Micheal A. McCarthy, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia April statement in which he alleges that during his visit across the counties, he realized that in most County Service Centers in 2022, none had received any of their budget allocation (usually around US$13,333).
Conclusion: Considering our research, Watson Chelley’s claim that no county from the South East has benefited from the County Social Development Fund over the last four and half years is partly true.
By: Lee Monjue & Joyclyn Wea
This story was produced with the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development(CJID) support.