VZCZCXRO1611 RR RUEHMA RUEHPA DE RUEHMV #0483 1890809 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 080809Z JUL 09 FM AMEMBASSY MONROVIA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1143 INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
1. (SBU) Summary: Acting Mayor Mary Broh has begun working as
Monrovia's mayor without confirmation by the Senate. She has taken
on efforts to rationalize city operations with the same vigor she
has shown to clean up Monrovia's streets, clear some of the
corruption from the port and reorganize the passport office. Broh
has requested USG assistance in developing a computerized tax
collection system. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Acting Mayor Mary Broh has taken on full responsibility as
Mayor of Monrovia despite the fact that the Senate has refused so
far to confirm her. Nominated by President Sirleaf in February
(reftel), Broh acted as head of the Monrovia clean-up taskforce
while awaiting confirmation. On June 9, President Sirleaf named her
Chair of the City Council (which does not need Senate confirmation),
effectively making her Acting Mayor to fill the vacancy.
3. (U) Broh took Ambassador on a tour of the Monrovia City Hall July
1, showing that she is cleaning up city hall both literally and
figuratively. The halls have been scrubbed and the offices are
being furnished with new desks and filing cabinets. The 50 year-old
building appeared fresh and bright.
4. (SBU) The offices were filled with city workers, who appeared to
be poring over papers or otherwise looking busy when the mayor and
Ambassador walked in. However, from the brief inspection, the only
people who appeared to be doing actual work was a six-woman task
force who were reviewing documents and recording them into
5. (SBU) Back in her office (which was noticeably clean and bright),
Broh explained to the Ambassador that the city has no financial
reserves (she presented a hand-written balance sheet from her
comptroller showing several accounts with only a few hundred
dollars) so she set up a task force to determine how all the city's
funds were spent.
6. (SBU) Her initial investigations have shown that former mayor
Ophelia Hoff-Saytuma had been receiving cash payments through checks
written to third parties. Broh has ordered revenue collectors no
longer to accept tax payments outside of City Hall, requiring
businesses to come to City Hall to pay taxes. Broh said that the
city does not have any computerized tax records and requested USG
assistance to provide equipment and technical assistance for revenue
7. (SBU) Broh has begun to look at the city payroll as well,
cleaning the rolls of ghost employees, and forcing all employees to
show up to work on time and sign in.
8. (SBU) Comment: We will explore ways to assist the new mayor in
modernizing tax collection. Broh's efforts to revamp municipal
government are laudable, but she may find it harder to clean up the
old messes in City Hall than on the streets of Monrovia.