Monrovia – Some service providers, contracted by the Plan Parenthood Association of Liberia, (PPAL), formerly Family Planning Association of Liberia, stormed the offices of the Front Page Africa newspaper, to complain PPAL of owing them five months in arrears.
The service providers, who would not call their names for fear of being dismissed by the Association, were headed by Oretha.
She stated that when they went to the PPAL office recently so that the Executive Director could clarify the issue regarding the letter, she (PPAL boss) bashed at them in anger and did not address the issue of their pay.
“We are given US$233 monthly, therefore, PPAL owes US$1,165 for five months.
She cannot be driving her daughter to school every day, while my daughter is put out of school for fees. What makes her think I do not want the same good life for my child? Let PPAL pay our money.”
They further told FPA in an interview on Tuesday at the newspaper offices that they had been contracted to provide family planning services such as birth control pills, the three-month injection, the five-year implant, and condoms.
They also said they provide HIV/AIDS counseling in their various communities.
They claimed that they have no idea why they have not gotten pay for five months.
“Some of us have been working with PPAL since 2015, while others joined in 2016 and 2017. PPAL owe us since September 2017, and they are not telling us anything about our money, but they circulated a letter that we should close all projects and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will pay us for last year arrears and PPAL will pay us for January and February. We did not sign contract with UNFPA instead we did it with PPAL. So how can UNFPA pay us when we are not dealing with them,” Oretha Jacobs asked.
A memorandum, in the possession of this paper, dated February 15, 2018, signed by PPAL Executive Director, Mrs. Miatta Kiawu Cojolo, reads;
Temporary Closure of all UNFPA Projects
This is to inform personnel associated with all UNFPA projects that the activities will come to a temporary closure on February 28, 2018.
This is due to on-going discussion between PPAL and UNFPA on entering a new work plan that will ensure the activities of the projects. Meanwhile accrued salaries for 2017 will be settled by UNFPA Accountant directly to you.
Kindly rest assured that the Association remains obligated to you in terms of salary arrears for January and February 2018 and will settle you as soon as fund is available to do so. In this regard, you are to submit all PPAL/UNFPA properties to PPAL Headquarters.
Also rest assured that you will resume your roles as soon as the discussion is completed and a new work plan is in place.
UNFPA, through its Advocacy and Communications officer, Mr. Calixte Hessou, said they partner with PPAL and pay PPAL to implement projects including the family planning project. And UNFPA does not have any contract to pay service providers directly.
Therefore, it is PPAL’s responsibility to pay the service provider and not UNFPA.
Addressing the issue of arrears owed the service providers and letter, regarding the closure of the UNFPA project, Mrs. Cojolo, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Association of Liberia, said due to some budgetary constraints, they have not been able to pay their service providers.
“It is true we owe the service providers because UNFPA has not given PPAL the funding for the 4th quarter of 2017. This is why we have not paid them, but we have been explaining to them to wait and when we receive the funding, we will pay them,” said Mrs. Cojolo.
She said they are local partner for UNFPA; who contracted them to run the project, but the Government through the Ministry of Health, recruits the service providers from various health centers to work on the family planning project. But the problem of arrear happens every year, as the UN system takes long before it is implemented.”
“We are running a nonprofit service that provides free services for people. Even people in our office have not taken pay yet, because we are doing the budgetary report for the year to present to our donors, because without it, no funds will come for us to pay our staff, so this is why we are appealing to the service providers to give us a little time to pay them.”
Asked why PPAL mentioned in its letter that UNFPA was going to directly pay the service providers, Mrs. Cojolo said she did not mean UNFPA would directly pay the providers but when UNFPA pays PPAL the fourth quarter of 2017 they owed, then PPAL will in turn pay them for last year’s arrears and pay the 2018 arrears of January and February on their own, as UNFPA has not contracted them for 2018.
She further said the reason she wrote the letter to the service providers regarding the closure, was because it is not fair to allow them to keep going to their various sites and keep the program running, when the company does not have the money to settle their arrears.
Therefore it was best to close the programs and wait until their arrears are paid in full before commencing a new program.
Mrs. Cojolo said the Government needs to help in the process because the donors cannot do all.
“What if UNFPA and other partners pull out and stop funding Liberia, what will become of the women and young people who are benefiting from the contraceptive program? If UNFPA and other partners decide not to fund us again but decide to turn things over to us to run, many centers we opened and are operating, will close down because the Ministry of Health will not fund the project,” she stressed.