Over US$800k Corruption at NaFAA

MONROVIA – Recent findings from a World Bank review mission to assess the Liberia Sustainable Management Fisheries Project (LSMFP) show that the amount of US$831,000 was misapplied by officials of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).

According to the report, the misapplied funds were taken from a US$3 million intended for the construction of the National headquarters of the institution under the project.

In its aide -memoire from the fourth (4th) implementation support mission stated: “deviation from the original allocations as detailed in the Project Appraisal Document; Of the US$3 million originally allocated for the construction of the National Fisheries & Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) Headquarter building, US$ 831,000 was spent on procurement of 6 vehicles, 2 motorbikes, public awareness billboards and electric generators.”

Sources hinted The Informer that these vehicles were reportedly used to support the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) campaign during last year’s presidential elections, reflecting a blatant misuse of project resources for political purposes.

 The review further indicates “it is noted that funds amounting to US$ 831,000 (of the allocated US$ 3 million) allocated for this activity were instead spent on procurement of 6 vehicles, 2 motorbikes, public awareness materials and billboards, laboratory equipment and solar power and generators. This deviation will need to be corrected during the proposed project restructuring and a justification provided to the Bank”, the report from the World Bank stated.

The mission, conducted from April 17-26, 2024, revealed troubling practices under the leadership of NaFAA officials posing significant threats to the progress and integrity of Liberia’s fisheries sector.

According to the memoire, the objectives of the mission were to review overall implementation progress on various project components, assess progress towards achieving the targets set out in the Results Framework, follow up on fiduciary and Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) requirements; address issues impeding implementation; review the status of compliance with legal covenants and discuss the upcoming Mid-Term Review and Restructuring mission.

 The LSMFP, launched in September 2021, aims to enhance the management and governance of Liberia’s fisheries, improve value-addition, support aquaculture development, and ensure robust project management. However, several issues, primarily financial mismanagement and lack of accountability, have severely impeded the project’s progress.

More than that, support from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was exploited, with boat engines intended for fishermen were instead distributed to key political stakeholders to bolster CDC-led campaigns. Similarly, materials for post-harvest facilities provided through a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project on sustainable fisheries were selectively distributed to individuals who supported the CDC during the elections.

 The mission highlighted significant delays and deviations in various project components due to internal fiduciary issues. Procurement processes are experiencing extensive delays, with contracts requiring additional attestations from the Director General, Emma Metieh Glassco causing substantial setbacks in achieving project milestones.

“Procurement processes at the PIU are experiencing significant delays, particularly in finalizing contract awards. It was noted that contracts, which according to the Project Implementation Manual (PIM) should be signed by the Project Coordinator, are being attested by the Director General, which sometimes takes many months. The mission requested the project to follow the process laid down in the approved PIM,” the World Bank indicated.

 Environmental and social compliance issues were also noted, particularly concerning the construction of the University of Liberia (UL) fisheries campus. Contractors initiated civil works without approved Environmental and Social Management Plans (ESMPs), illustrating the chaotic and unregulated environment within NaFAA.

 Moreover, NaFAA’s persistent association with illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities continues to prevent Liberia from being lifted from the European Union’s yellow card. Despite EU advisories, the DG’s involvement in illegal transshipments of distant water fishing fleets without implementing punitive measures exacerbates the situation, hindering progress toward sustainable fisheries management.

 The project’s financial management has been rated as moderately unsatisfactory, with an inability to account for $34,894 given to staff members for international travel. The absence of the Project Accountant due to illness has compounded these issues, significantly hampering the PIU’s ability to meet essential fiduciary responsibilities.

 Given these extensive issues, the World Bank has downgraded the project’s performance rating to a concerning level of ‘Moderately Satisfactory.’ The mission’s findings underscore the urgent need for immediate restructuring and enhanced oversight to salvage the project and ensure its objectives are met.

 The revelations of corruption and mismanagement within NaFAA are a severe blow to Liberia’s fisheries sector, vital for the country’s economy and food security. The international community and stakeholders must hold the NaFAA leadership accountable and ensure that corrective measures are implemented promptly to restore integrity and effectiveness to the project.

About The Author

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours