Legislature Goes on Annual Break

first_imgThe House of Representatives and the Senate respectively ended this year’s legislative session on Thursday, October 15 for their constitutional annual or constituency break, previously known as agriculture break.The formal closure of the 4th Session of the Senate marked the 29th day sitting, while the House was at the 13th day sitting of its extraordinary session.Conventionally, the Legislature, the first branch of government, embarks on its annual break on August 30, but extended its session by six weeks upon the request of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made on August 27 in accordance with Article 32b of the 1986 Constitution.“The President shall, on his (or her) own initiative or upon receipt of a certificate signed by at least one-fourth of the total membership of each House, and by proclamation, extend a regular session of the Legislature beyond the date for adjournment or call a special extraordinary session of that body to discuss or act upon matters of national emergency and concern. When the extension or call is at the request of the Legislature, the proclamation shall be issued not later than forty-eight hours after receipt of the certificate by the President,” the Constitution states.A rumor on the extension of the Legislature’s session by another 15 days did not materialize as a reason for the President’s visit on Wednesday with the joint leadership of the Legislature.The motion for adjournment of the 4th Session at the House of Representatives made by Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh was unanimously seconded.In his formal closing and statement of appreciation, Speaker J. Alex Tyler said the conclusion of the 4th Session of the 53rd Legislature was in agreement with their practice, law and constitutional warrant.ObituarySpeaker Tyler suggested a pause to commemorate the transition of the late Fofi Sahr Baimba of Lofa County.“May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Many and varied were the vicissitudes which confronted us and our people, coming, as we were, from a vicious and unrelenting attack from the Ebola Virus,” the Speaker said.Legislative SummarySpeaker Tyler said the second Monday in January of 2015, was the start of the 4th Session, and the House of Representatives held several public hearings on various proposed bills and welcomed into their homes and offices, hundreds of their constituents, as they attended to their multiple problems.He said 38 bills are with the committees, while 33 bills were passed into law, with a number of bills still outstanding which, upon their return on Monday, January 14, 2016 they would start working on.Cautioning anti-graft institutions, Speaker Tyler stressed on integrity and urged them to persevere in their sacred objectives.House’s Interim AdministratorsThe Bomi County lawmaker pointed out that the House is adjourning for constituency visits, and wished his colleagues well as they rest with their respective family members to reflect on the past year’s work.But he stressed that the government does not shut down, and announced that the Statutory Committees and Representatives from the 15 counties will continue to meet and serve during the closure of the House.The interim administrators include Rep. Varmumah Corneh (Montserrado); Rep. Mary Kawah (Grand Bassa); Rep. Jeremiah McCauley (Sinoe); Rep. Dr. Isaac Roland (Maryland); Rep. Larry Younquoi (Nimba); Numennie Bartekwai (Grand Kru); Rep. Christian Chea (River Gee); Rep. Morias Waylee (Grand Gedeh); Rep. Byron Zarweah; Rep. Prince Moye (Bong); Rep. Stephen Kafi (Margibi); Rep. Clarence Massaquoi (Lofa) and; Rep. Haja Siryon (Bomi).Thankful CollaborationThe Speaker said the level of cooperation from the other two branches of government, the Judiciary and Executive, was courteous, cordial and mutually beneficial, for which he thanked the respective heads.Vote of thanksSpeaker Tyler extended his thanks and appreciation to the personal staffers, central administration staffs and the print and electronic media that helped to carry out their tasks during the 4th Sitting.“We also thank electors for keeping us busy, alert and on our toes! We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Speaker Tyler said.ProspectsThe Speaker said that as they approach 2016, they would do their utmost to tackle and, hopefully pass, many of the intractable bills remaining among the various committees.“The next sitting augurs promise and prospects because our fledgling democracy would be poised for a change in two years, fulfilling the constitutional and statutory mandate, vouchsafed to us by the organic laws of the state,” Speaker Tyler stressed.“With uncommon zeal, undaunted patriotism and a nationalistic fervor which knows no bounds, I salute you to the task which lies ahead,” he concluded.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

Gov’t Wants NSA’s US$284K Case Transferred

first_imgA legal argument as to whether or not a case in which US$247,000 was allegedly confiscated from a group of Korean nationals by officers of the National Security Agency (NSA) should be transferred from Monrovia, in Montserrado County, to another county for hearing will be decided on Friday by Judge Yussif Kaba of the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice.Judge Kaba’s decision to reserve ruling on the change of venue for the case came immediately after he listened to the lawyers pushing their respective arguments to convince him.In 2014, the NSA confiscated from a group of Korean businessmen, Messrs Jung Dal Park, Chae Dae Byoung, Chold Jung Woo, Cha Kwang Woon and Aleck Gold, without a court order, the amount of US$247,000. The NSA claimed the cash was ‘counterfeit banknotes,’ and placed it in an escrow account. The remaining US$37,000 was unaccounted for.The Korean investors denied the claim and are seeking legal redress to get their money back from the NSA.At yesterday’s proceedings, state lawyer Cllr. Augustine Fayiah argued that should the matter be decided in Monrovia, there would be no justice for the state on grounds that the issue had been heard on various media outlets on several occasions. According to Cllr. Fayiah, public perception could influence the jury’s decision.They also argued that if they were to hear the matter in Monrovia, prospective jurors already have their minds made up that the allegation was true; and as such, they would not have a fair trial.On the other hand, lawyers for the Koreans argued that if the matter were to go to another county, their clients would be burdened by huge expenses such as hotel bills, food, and transport, among others.Judge Kaba is expected to decide on these arguments on Friday.In their complaint, the Korean businessmen alleged that they withdrew US$284,000 on bank slips from the International Bank (IB) on July 8, 2014. They alleged that while they were going through a business transaction for gold with Nasser Ally, a Lebanese businessman who had invited them to Liberia, the NSA agents, who claimed that the US bills were ‘counterfeit bank notes,’ confiscated their money.They believed that somebody at the IB Bank alerted Fumbah Sirleaf, head of the NSA, who reportedly sent his agents to seize the money. “Further,” they claimed in their complaint, “our clients have presented to us emails which were exchanged with Mr. Ally prior to their visit to Liberia and were shocked that after they were jointly arrested along with Mr. Ally while transacting business, Fumba Sirleaf allegedly instructed his boys to remove Mr. Ally from the midst of the Koreans to an unknown area. After a while, the plain-clothes security returned and confiscated the money claiming it was counterfeit US banknotes.“Of course, Ally from that moment, was seen as ‘cooperating’ with the investigators and was never seen again.“What is mind-boggling is that none of our clients or a third party was present when US$49,300 of the US$284,000 was declared as ‘counterfeit notes’ by the same arresting officers who confiscated our clients’ money.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

House Elects New Speaker

first_imgMembers of the House of Representatives have overwhelmingly elected Margibi County District #5 Representative J. Emmanuel Nuquay as the new Speaker of the 53rd Legislature after over three months of in-house wrangling.Speaker Nuquay has replaced Bomi County District #2 Representative J. Alex Tyler Sr.Rep. Nuquay was unanimously elected by ‘white ballot,’ with the attendance of 50 Representatives.The Speaker’s election was based upon the lifting of the Stay Order placed on it on Monday, October 3, by Justice-in-Chambers, Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Youh. The Stay Order was petitioned by Montserrado County District #15 Adolph Lawrence.Justice Youh further declined to issue an alternative Writ of Prohibition against the election, from which the deposed Speaker said he was unconstitutionally removed.It may be recalled that the former Speaker was removed by 49 lawmakers, comparable to two-thirds members, through a resolution amid a major row over his criminal indictment relating to bribery as alleged in the Global Witness Report.The resolution referenced Article 49 of the 1986 Constitution and Rule 9.1 of the House’s Rules and Procedures qualifying the Speaker’s removal on Tuesday, September 27, during the 8th Day Extraordinary Sitting.Article 49 of the Constitution says: “The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House” and also Rule 9.1 of the House’s Rules and Procedure states: “The Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other Officers of the House may be removed from office for cause by a resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House.”Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon, the Chief Administrator of the House of Representatives, served as the Chairman of the Election Body, aided by Sergeant-at-Arms Gen. Martin Johnson.Meanwhile, before Justice Youh’s decision yesterday, another lawmaker, Representative Adolph Lawrence, had raised a similar concern against the holding of the election on grounds that it was unconstitutional.Rep. Lawrence’s lead lawyer, Cllr. Cooper Kruah, had argued that the lawmakers’ action to hold the election contradicted Article 49 of the 1986 Constitution.Article 49 states: “The House of Representative shall elect once every six years a Speaker who shall be the presiding officer of that body, a Deputy Speaker, and such other officers as shall ensure the proper functioning of the House. The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House.”Cllr. Kruah in his argument said Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, who was then next in line, should have been elected as Speaker to complete Tyler’s remaining six years without any election.In counter argument, Cllr. Beyan Howard, who represented the lawmakers pressing for the election, said his clients were not proceeding wrongly to hold the election.Cllr. Howard argued that they acted in line with Rules 10.1 adopted by the House of Representative.Rules 10.1 provides that “When the office of the Speaker shall become vacant by reason of removal, death, resignation, inability or other disabilities the Deputy Speaker shall act as Speaker until a new speaker is elected within Sixty days. And when the Speaker is absent from session, the Deputy Speaker shall act in accordance With Rule 8.1 and 8.2. In the absence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker such Member of the House as the House may elect for that purpose shall preside. Such member shall be known as ‘Speaker Pro-Tempore.’”Also, article 38 of the 1986 Constitution provides that “Each House shall adopt its own rules of procedure, enforce order and with the concurrence of two-thirds of the entire membership, may expel a member for cause. Each House shall establish its own committees and sub-committees; provided, however, that the committees on revenues and appropriations shall consist of one member from each County. All rules adopted by the Legislature shall conform to the requirements of due process of law laid down in this Constitution.”According to Howard, Rule 47 of the House also provides that “Any member who claimed that their right is violated should subsequently submit a written communication to the Chairman of rules, orders and administration.”Cllr. Howard claimed that Rep. Lawrence failed to take advantage of that provision, but went to the Supreme Court, which was a complete violation of the proceedings at the House.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

Dealing With the Razzmatazz and Euphoria of Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant

first_imgNational debates must be characterized by patriotism, sincerity and substance. We must hold our leaders accountable by what they say they will do for the people. We must never run away from speaking the truth even if it hurts. The debate surrounding Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant is becoming increasingly interesting and I thought to weigh in from where I sit. This is just an initial analysis, but I shall endeavor to publish a full column of my thoughts in due course. Liberia is a functionally illiterate society besieged by mediocrity, self-pity, neglect and penury. Every small development in Liberia appears like a discovery of a diamond mine or a deposit of gold, even if it is overdue. This is what happens when a group of hopeless and choiceless people have been smuggled into the wilderness of uncertainty and degradation as a result of bad governance and leadership-deficit. This is what happens when basic social services (electricity, housing, health, safe drinking water, quality education, etc.) are yet too far as a result of greed and corruption. This is what happens when a nation is rich, but poor in terms of development. A few days ago, the “big light” 22 megawatts hydropower was switched on after 11 years. Is this project worth commendation? Yes, it does. Before premising my thoughts, I would like to commend President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and our partners, especially the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the European Investment Bank, the German and Norwegian Governments for such a laudable initiative. At least a portion of Monrovia will have access to hydropower after more than a decade. This 22 megawatts hydropower plant appears to be the biggest achievement of Madam President since 2006. Wowwww!!!After almost 12 years, just 18 communities in Monrovia will benefit from this 22 megawatts hydropower. A Junior Minister of the government called me and said “Martin, are you aware that the hydro is finally on? Doesn’t this call for a national celebration?” I said, “No, it doesn’t, but such project is laudable.” Another official of government said “A promise finally fulfilled and this ends the debate of the opposition.” As I browsed through series of reactions since the 22mgw hydropower was dedicated, I thought to deal with the razzmatazz and euphoria of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant in Harrisburg, Montserrado County. For the sake of our readership, let me succinctly define both razzmatazz and euphoria:1. Razzmatazz is a noisy and noticeable activity, intended to attract attention.2. Euphoria is a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness.The atmosphere in Monrovia has been clouded with wild excitement by a lot of pro-regime protégés and apprentices of falsehood. Such euphoria being amplified is nothing but a gimmick, only meant to pacify our already poverty-stricken population. In pretense, some of them are even attempting to convince us that the 22 megawatts hydropower is the remedy to the socioeconomic misery of the Liberian people.So, they expect us to jubilate all day long with our hands up in prolonged applause even though most Liberian businesses are currently at risk due to the hike in taxes. The day Monrovia will reach up to Dakar, Accra, Abidjan, Johannesburg, Cairo, Kigali and Harare as a result of hydropower distribution, then it means that we will have to declare a national holiday. How I hope 25 percent of our population could briefly travel to Johannesburg or Kigali and return home. President John Magufuli of Tanzania has built 1,423 industries so far after spending just one (1) year in power. Why aren’t Tanzanians celebrating all day or all year long?Because they know that it is the responsibility of the government to promote public welfare. In Liberia, promoting public welfare through basic social services is perceived as a form of favor from the government to the people. This is what they (public officials) have made our people to believe. As a result, when little progress is made, they expect us to keep clapping and celebrating all year long. No, no, no, we cannot razzmatazz when there is one (1) good to ninety-nine (99) bad. We cannot overly celebrate when the demerits are more than the merits after almost 12 years. We cannot leap into the state of prolonged euphoria just for a 22 megawatts hydropower that cannot even produce electricity for the entire Monrovia. What happens to those living in the other 14 counties? The 22 megawatts hydropower commissioned and dedicated by President Sirleaf is not a promise fulfilled. The fact is that this government has received so much and has done so little. The achievements of this government are far less than its non-achievements. In 2005, before her ascendancy to the presidency, Madam Aspirant Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf promised to electrify Monrovia and its environs in six months; unfortunately after 11 years, this promise is yet to be fulfilled. It was on the basis of this promise that President Sirleaf’s candidature received an overwhelming support in 2005. All we now see after 132 months in power is a 22 megawatts hydropower plant. Isn’t this a promise betrayed? Of course, it is a promise betrayed because Monrovia is still rated as one of the darkest capital cities in the world after 11 years. In fact, during Liberia’s 169th Independence Day celebration in July 2006, President Sirleaf promised “Big Light” before leaving office. With less than 13 months to the end of her regime, is the 22 megawatts hydropower the “Big Light” President Sirleaf promised? Is this the big light that can only provide hydroelectric power for only 18 communities in Monrovia? I thought they told us that the“Big Light” would have electrified our entire country. What is even puzzling is that Liberia is spending US$357 million to rehabilitate a hydropower plant of 88 megawatts in 11 years while neighboring Guinea spent US$526 million to construct a hydropower plant of 240 megawatts in less than 4 years. Liberia’s hydroelectric rehabilitation project is too costly both in currency and time with less unit of power. In the case of Guinea, the hydro was constructed (and not rehabilitated) with lesser amount (US$526 million) as compared to Liberia with more unit of power (240 megawatts) in a limited period (less than 4 years). With all these glaring realities, they expect us to razzmatazz and jubilate all year long. No, we cannot!! All we can do is to appreciate the government and its partners for a step forward. Furthermore, in a bid to be reelected in 2011, Africa’s first female President signed an official contract with all Liberians through a solemn pledge consisting of twenty (20) promises. These were Madam Sirleaf’s exact words to all Liberians during the campaign period in 2011.“Our Pledge to you fellow countrymen is that if you entrust us with another 6 years, we will do the following:1. Create no fewer than 20,000 jobs (short and long term) every year for the next 6 years.2. Ensure that Mount Coffee Hydro Plant is fully rehabilitated and made functional (100 percent).3. Roberts International Airport is modernized and brought to International standards.4. Connect all county capitals with paved roads.5. Ensure that Liberian businesses have increased access to finance.6. Ensure that each county has a technical and vocational training center.7. Increase the salary of teachers and health workers, especially those working in rural areas.8. Provide more support to farmers to increase local capacity, especially those working in rural areas.9. Invest in activities that enhance true reconciliation.10. Continue to ensure that our people are safe.11. Ensure double digit growth rate to address poverty.12. Ensure that nationals have equity in relevant national assets13. Expand banking services to all counties.14. Continue the fight against corruption with emphasis on punishment.15. Complete plans for new capital at Zekepa.16. Build bridges to connect counties.17. Ensure all government agencies are in public buildings.18. Continue to expand neighborhoods and farm to market roads.19. Complete community colleges in all counties.20. Construct 3 regional sport academies.Even the second promise is yet to be fulfilled after a second term. Just 25 percent (22 megawatts out of 88 megawatts) of Mount Coffee Hydro Project has been completed. Must we Razzmatazz even though none of these promises is yet to be fulfilled in full or 100 percent? Have we connected all county capitals with paved roads? Have we created the 100,000 jobs since 2012? Where are the plans for our new capital at Zekepa? Where are the 3 regional sports academies? Have we completed community colleges in all counties? Are all government agencies in public buildings? Are banking services available in all counties? Where is the technical and vocational center in each county?It is unfortunate that our leaders want the entire world to believe that our thirst for genuine change in Liberia has been quenched as a result of the dedication of the 22 megawatts hydropower project. No, no, no…that’s not true. If Liberia must make genuine progress, we must not shy away from the hardcore facts. We must be willing to add value to our discourse by demonstrating sincerity and patriotism. Even if we are aligned with the power that be, the truth must be said. If we decide to euphorically razzmatazz about every small progress after a prolonged period, we harm our nation further by energizing complacency and undermining the snail-paced development of our country. Amid of all of these, I still remain hopeful that we can rise above this level beyond 2017. It is possible to even electrify the entire country (Liberia) in less than 4 years after 2017 elections if political will is demonstrated at all levels. An all-inclusive CHANGE is possible in Liberia through patriotism, transparency and accountability. From the largest slum of West Point and the top of Ducor, I see a new Liberia rising above the African continent. About the Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, a student leader, an emerging economist and a young writer. He currently studies Economics with distinction the University of Liberia and is a loyal stalwart of the Student Unification Party (SUP). He can be reached at martinkerkula1989@yahoo.comShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

Fishermen Protest Executive Order #84

first_imgMembers of a fishing crew pulling in the catch of the day at a local beachAn association of small scale fishermen and women from nine coastal counties under the banner of the Liberia Artisanal Fishermen Association (LAFA) has expressed disappointment with Executive Order 84, issued by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.Executive Order 84 reduces Liberia’s Inshore Exclusion Zone (IEZ) from six nautical miles to three, and is among other measures aimed at revitalizing commercial and semi-industrial fishing in Liberia.The group, with a reported membership of 350,000 and headquartered in West Point, said in a letter to House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, which was read in Tuesday’s session, that Executive Order 84 is not in the their best interest.“This decision has the propensity to create serious hardship on the already poor and struggling artisanal (small scale) fishermen,” stated the letter under the signatures of Mr. Jerry N. Blamo, the Secretary General, and President Nyantee Sleh Sr.“Moreover, with respect to the 2010 Fisheries Regulation that brought the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP) to Liberia, the executive order undermines government’s commitment to the next five years of the WARFP project. In 2010, the fisheries regulation was approved to regulate the sector and to restrict the inshore-exclusive zone (IEZ),” the letter said.It added: “Honorable Speaker, in putting this regulation into action, stakeholder consultative meetings were held and all stakeholders from various institutions, including the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP) and the international communities, participated in these meetings, which brought to being the fisheries regulation.”Members of the House of Representatives have voted unanimously for the letter to be forwarded to the leadership and to meet with the President, because of the gravity of the complaint, which involves the livelihoods of 350,000 fishermen and women who are from nine coastal counties, namely: Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Montserrado, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Kru and Maryland counties.Executive Order 84Executive Order 84 quoted Article 7 of the Constitution in which it made reference to the equitable management of Liberia’s natural resources so as to advance the general welfare of the people and the economic development of the country.The Order said the fishery resources of Liberia have been underutilized for over a decade and the government intends to encourage investment in the sector to ensure the sustainable development and utilization of its natural resources.It said in furtherance of its intentions to start sustainably utilizing its fishery resources, the government has recognized that the Bureau of National Fisheries, a unit under the Ministry of Agriculture, needs to be granted an autonomous status to enable it meet up with the demands of the fishing industry, and reduce the government’s bureaucracy around the process of obtaining a fishing license.The government has therefore initiated a process to pass legislation to transform the Bureau of National Fisheries to an autonomous agency of government charged with the responsibility of managing and developing Liberia’s fishery resources, which would eventually attract investment and expand Liberia’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors.The Order further said the Liberian government is cognizant of the lengthy process involved with passing said legislation, and realizes the need to institute an interim measure to ensure that Liberia begins the process of reforming its fisheries sector.In view of the foregoing, President Sirleaf issued an interim measure until such time the National Fisheries Act is enacted into law thus establishing an autonomous fisheries agency.The Order granted the Maritime Authority complete supervisory and fiscal authority of the Bureau of National Fisheries and Liberia’s fishery resources pending the enactment of the National Fisheries Act. This authority, she said, shall include the promulgation of regulations, guidelines, fees and the granting of licenses and authorizations for the sustainable utilization and management of Liberia’s fishery resources.In its application, the Order charged the LMA to ensure that the objective is implemented, with the following measures in place:“Supervisory and fiscal responsibilities over the Fisheries Sector…of the Bureau of National Fisheries shall now come under the full and complete control of the Liberia Maritime Authority; that the Inshore Exclusive Zone (IEZ) as established by the Fisheries Regulations of 2010 is hereby reduced from 6 nautical miles to 3 nautical miles. This is to ensure that industrial and semi-industrial fishing can restart and again become viable. That fishing vessels below 500 gross tons shall be exempt from all APM Terminal and other port charges; that the cumulative stock of fishery resources to be harvested shall not exceed 100,000 metric tons per annum; and that the Bureau of National Fisheries, under the supervision of the Liberia Maritime Authority, will issue and publish revised guidelines and fiscal regime for obtaining Fishery License.”Meanwhile, a UK-based non-profit organization, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), has also frowned on the government for the Executive Order which aims to revitalize commercial and semi-industrial fishing in Liberia. However, the government has termed as “inaccurate” EJF’s interpretation of Executive Order 84.According to a Ministry of Information press release, contrary to what the EJF asserts through its media campaign, the revitalization of commercial and semi-industrial fishing will, in no way, cause a drop in fish supplies to the local market but would rather lead to an increase.The new guidelines, the release said, will be published before any new license is issued, and will ensure all fishing vessels take all catch in Liberia to the local market; and will lead to the consequent reduction in fish imports from Sierra Leone and other countries. Liberia currently imports nearly 50,000 metric tons of fish per year.The release said the economic benefits from the domestic harvesting of fish rather than importing of fish will help the country’s balance of payment and the foreign exchange situation; and the benefit will help the country, including artisanal fishermen.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

Nimba County Gets 5th Superintendent

first_imgMinister Tokpa performs the induction ceremonyNimba County’s 5th superintendent under the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was on Saturday, May 13, inducted into office in the provincial city of Sanniquellie.Mr. David Dorr Cooper’s induction ceremony, which was well attended, was spearheaded by Internal Affairs Minister Dr. Henrique Tokpa, who praised Mr. Cooper for his hard work, starting from his time as Mayor of Ganta and as Nimba County’s Assistant Superintendent for Development.“You deserved being a superintendent, because your hard works drew everybody’s attention nationwide to you to the extent that some of them want to emulate your good example,” Dr. Tokpa said.He urged Mr. Cooper not to be selfish and claim everything for himself, and not to use the public office for personal gain – an act Dr. Tokpa said President Sirleaf will not tolerate.“Let’s hold together as one people to develop our county and don’t allow politics to divide us,” Tokpa advised.Cooper meanwhile promised that his leadership will foster reconciliation and bring peace to the citizens, which would facilitate speedy development in the county.“In the absence of peace, there will be no concrete development,” the newly inducted superintendent said. “Put all political differences aside and think about our county.”Political differences have engulfed the county in the build up to the October elections, with war of words blaring over local radio stations, which has caused divisions among the citizens.For that, Supt. Cooper cautioned the youth to be constructive in their approach, and not to discuss issues over the radio.The occasion was attended by some prominent citizens, including members of the 53rd Legislative Caucus of the county, namely: Senator Thomas Grupee, Representatives Larry P. Younquoi, Worlea Saywah Dunah and Matinokay Tingban.For his part, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe admonished Mr. Cooper and his corps of officers to listen to their critics, “because those are the people who are interested in what their county’s leadership is doing to improve the citizens’ welfare.”It may be recalled that President Sirleaf appointed Robert Kamei as superintendent shortly after taking office in 2006. Mr. Kamei was replaced by Edith Weh Gongloe in 2009, who was replaced when she decided to contest for the county’s senatorial seat in 2011.Madam Gongloe was replaced by Mrs. Christiana Dagadu, whose administration birthed the Concerned Nimbaians Movement that wants to see the full implementation of the Mineral Development Agreement between ArcelorMittal Liberia and the Liberian government.Dagadu’s tenure was characterized by a violent confrontation between locals and some employees at the Yekepa mine. She was moderate in her approach to addressing issues, until she was dismissed in 2014 and replaced by Mr. Fong Gami Zuagele.Fong Zuagele’s tenure was considered as a ‘no nonsense’ administration. However, he also suffered a vote of no confidence from the youth, who eventually demonstrated and blocked the railroad connecting Nimba with Grand Bassa County, thereby paralyzing AcelorMittal’s operations.Meanwhile, there were mixed reactions about the President’s preferment of Dorr Cooper as superintendent of the vote-rich county, with his critics saying he is not educated enough to lead the county, while many believe he is hardworking and wants to see things done to benefit the people.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

MOA, UNDP, CI Launch Good Growth Partnership

first_imgParticipants and officials posed at the launch of the GGP in Monrovia.The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Conservation International (CI) as well as other partners have partnered a “High-level launch of the Good Growth Partnership (GGP). The program was launched recently, at the Ministry in Gardnersville.The program which was held under the theme, “Taking Deforestation Out of Commodity Supply Chains”, is aimed at presenting the GGP an ambitious effort to place sustainability at the heart of commodity production.The Good Growth Partnership is initiated by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and is currently led by the United Nations Development Program  (UNDP’s)  Green Commodities Program which is in strong collaboration with Conservation International, the International Finance Corporation, the UN Environment and World Wildlife Fund for Nature. the program concentrates on advancing an integrated, supply chain approach to tackling the underlying root causes of deforestation from the production of agriculture commodities in Liberia especially palm oil.The approach also consists of linked projects covering production demands, transaction and knowledge management and learning. The production project, according to the MOA will contribute to addressing the challenges by concentrating on the production of one of the main commodities driving these worrisome trends:  Palm oil, this project which runs for the period of five years is expected to phase out in 2021.The project will also focus on sustainable oil palm production in at least in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount Gbarpolu, and Bong Counties. In Liberia, Good Growth Partnership (GGP) is building on the work of the government as well as implementing partners, to systematically change the way oil palm is being produced in the country to a modernized form.The aim of this is to also encourage and increase productivity without expanding into the forest. According to the MOA this will further be achieved through convening diverse stakeholders around a common vision and agenda for action- a National Oil Palm Strategy; and supporting the Liberian government to fortify its support to farmers and to reform laws, policies as well as enforcement systems.The project will also strengthen one national platform in Liberia and establish on the landscape – a level forum to ensure stakeholders’ participation, dialogue and approval, enable inter-agency and multi-sector action in the oil palm sector of the country.The launch of the project is going to highlight the outcome, management system, and implementation arrangements as well as the associated approach to meet the goals of the sustainable oil palm production in Liberia.Meanwhile, the Project Manager of GGP Ronald Cumberbatch said transforming the key commodity supply chain is essential to the growth of and development of the initiative and as such it has the potential to significantly reduce deforestation and stem climate change.Cumberbatch stated that the GGP will, therefore, build on the work of the government as well as implementing partners to ensure that the outcome of the project is achieved.  “Farmers support systems and agri-inputs, land use plans and maps in targeted landscapes and knowledge management,” he said.UNDP Country Director Pa Lamin Beyai said agriculture is expected to contribute significantly to the priority of this plant (palm), mainly in terms of poverty reduction, food security, unemployment and increase household income.Unfortunately, according to the UNDP official,  over the years the contribution of agriculture to Liberia’s economic growth and development has been limited to around 26 percent which he said is due to inadequate policies and many other constraints.  “We at UNDP strongly believe that this project will provide solutions through interventions of all stakeholders; we should be optimistic because the output from the oil palm is encouraging.”The Good Growth Partnership program which targets major challenges the sector faces will help to promote collective efforts for change in the process of developing a national oil palm strategy and action plan. It will also provide a roadmap to guide investment and activities for sustainable oil palm production.Jessica Donovan said as a founding member of the Oil Palm Technical Working group, Conservation International is proud to be part of the project that will help the sector achieve its goals for sustainable palm oil production.   “We look forward to contributing to the national strategy, working with UNDP, the government of Liberia and all other key stakeholders,” she stressed.“We also look forward to joining the dialogue on stakeholder engagement, smallholders, and out-growers and finally, in helping to demystify the issues around High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value definitions and set-aside at the national level.”According to a release, the Good Growth Partnership is being implemented in Liberia at a cost of US$2 million.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

GoL, LBDI Sign US$2M Small Business Pro-poor Development Loan Scheme

first_img(From left) Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. and Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh, affix their signatures to Loan Scheme document.The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) along with Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) have signed a US$2 million Small Business Pro-poor Development Fund Loan Scheme, a statement said on Thursday, January 17, 2019.The loan scheme is aimed at empowering Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) and Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) across the country for payment over three years period at the interest rate of seven percent.According to the statement, signing of the Loan Scheme took place in the conference room of the Ministry of Commerce.Today’s loan signing is a signature project from President George Weah’s Inauguration Speech during which, he assured that Liberians will not be spectators in their own economy,” Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning said.Tweah described affording Liberian-owned small businesses access to loans through the Fund as one of the tangible and practical steps in fulfilling the President’s promise about Liberians participation in the economy.“This loan is minimum, but a maximum will depend on the performance of this initiative. I hope you will hear it from the President that he is willing to do more, and the bank is also willing to do more and increase its contribution,’’ he added.He said the Pro-poor Development Fund Loan scheme is meant to support private sectors expansion, business activities, support innovation, but not consumption.He emphasized, “we are not signing this loan for people to consume the fund.”Tweah said that the government has learned from previous ventures, and things that went wrong in the past five years, and would help Liberians to succeed with capital supply and productive activities.LBDI President, John B.S. Davies, applauded President Weah for his “demonstrated commitment to improving Liberians participation in the economy through conceiving the idea of a Loan Fund for Liberian-owned small businesses.”Mr. Davies expressed gratitude for the government recognizing the LBDI as a financial institution to work with in actualizing the vision.He assured the government that during the loan process, LBDI will create a separate unit to follow up all transactions between the customers and the bank.Davies said that the bank will also dedicate officers with the full responsibilities to follow up on each and every borrower potential under the program.He then assured entrepreneurs and other small business organizations that he wants to be a vehicle of success, not of failure, during the loan process.Mr. Davies:”The loan is being backed by a comprehensive vetting framework that will ensure all concerns are addressed.”The signing ceremony was attended by ministers of Finance and Commerce, representatives from the private sector actors, entrepreneurs, and representatives of small business organizations.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

Supreme Court Vindicates Koffa’s Taskforce of Hacked E-mails Claim

first_imgPrior to becoming an elected official, Rep. Fonati Koffa led the task force that prosecuted those indicted by the Global Witness alleged bribery reportFollowing months of serious legal disagreement to substantiate whether the e-mails and spreadsheets were illegally acquired by the Special Presidential Taskforce prosecuting several present and past public officials including Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, based on the Global Witness (GW) alleged US$950,000 bribery report, the Supreme Court has dispelled any suggestions of hacking.The Supreme Court reached that decision on Wednesday, August 22, when they reversed the Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay’s acceptance of the defense team’s argument that the document must be marked temporarily because the email exchanges and spreadsheets between Sherman and Sherman Incorporated and Sable Mining were hacked by the prosecution to create evidence against their clients, which they claimed was illegal.The GW report had alleged that the defendants received over US$950,000 in bribes through Sable’s Liberian lawyer, Cllr. Varney Sherman, to alter the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) law that would have enabled the officials to award Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County to Sable without any competitive bidding process.Besides Sherman, other defendants included former House Speaker Alex Tyler,  a Nigerian national Chris Onanuga, former National Investment Commission boss Richard Tolbert, Sen. Morris Saytumah of Bomi County, Willie Belleh, former PPCC chair and Eugene Shannon, former minister of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME) and former LMLE deputy minister, E.C.B. Jones.Reversing Judge Gbeisay’s judgment, the High Court, speaking through Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor, declared that since the defendants alleged the email, the spreadsheets and other documentary evidences objected to were hacked,  they had the burden to prove otherwise. “It was therefore, an error by the trial judge to have required the state to prove that the documents were not hacked.”Korkpor said, the law does not provide what he considered as “temporary making” of the documentary evidences as was done by Judge Gbeisay, stressing: “after the prosecution’s witness testified to the documents and were subsequently marked and confirmed by the Court, same should be submitted to the jury or received by the judge sitting as a bench trial to determine its authenticity and materiality.”Shortly, afterward, Justice Korkpor instructed his Clerk to mandate the judge now presiding over the Criminal Court ‘C’ to resume jurisdiction over the case and placed permanent marks on those documents objected to, “so that their authenticity and materiality will be determined at the appropriate time.”Immediately, when the Supreme Court reversed Gbeisay’s decision Cllr. Fonati Koffa who at the time chaired the taskforce and now serves as Representative of District #2 in Grand Kru County, meanwhile, described the judgment as “vindication”.“We feel vindicated that prosecution was just right. We are relieved because the High Court has spoken and has agreed with us that we were on the right path.”Before that, the Koffa-led taskforce claimed that the emails and spreadsheets were outstanding evidences to prove the guilt of the defendants, stressing, “Any attempt to refuse marking and admission will cause the defendants to go free of their criminal conducts that had undermined the integrity and credibility of Liberia nationally and internationally.”Prosecution also argued that the exclusionary doctrine is only applicable when the evidence had been illegally obtained, specifically, evidence obtained as a result of torture, “but no such evidence was obtained from a person of personal knowledge growing out of privileged conversation and business transaction who voluntarily gave such emails to prosecutors.”“In this case,” the prosecutor said, “we obtained said emails and other business records from a recipient and participant in the email communications who transacted with co-defendant Sherman.”It may be recalled that the confusion erupted when prosecution’s first witness and Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission investigator, Marc N. Kollie, testified that they gathered credible information from emails and spreadsheets obtained from GW’s private investigator Paul Sullivan and Heine Van Niekerk, a senior staff of Sable Mining, the UK mining company, when they met during their investigation in that country.“The email communication was documentary evidence obtained by the investigators as a means of the regular course of business transaction among the defendants,” prosecution’s resistance alleged, adding, “it was Heine Van Niekerk who gave the emails subject to these proceedings to the investigators.”Kollie said Niekerk also gave emails and other documents to private investigator Sullivan, “including business records of Liberia Iron Ore Investment,” a subsidiary of Sable Mining.“Niekerk said he voluntarily turned over those documents to Sullivan to form cogent part of our resistance,” the prosecution said.The documents alleged Sherman exchanged emails with the other co-defendants, including Sable Mining, to change the law and subsequently award the Wologizi Mountain to Sable Mining.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →

Forestry Training Institute in Ruins

first_imgForestry Training Institute continues to remain in ruins, despite US$300,000 budgetary provision -After 28 years of neglect The buildings are dilapidated. The roofs are rotting and some have caved in, the walls damp and ornamented by algae. This description is that of the Forestry Training Institute (FTI), in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.The school, which once trained Liberians in forestry and surveying, ceased its operations in early 1980.Since then, most current surveyors lacked sufficient exposure to survey methods that are conducted with modern technology.The school’s administration and the World Bank (WB), in December 2018 signed a US$200,000 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of some of its dilapidated structures, according to Executive Director Jeremiah Karmo.However, Karmo said, the money is yet to be given by the World Bank.Karmo made the assertion recently at the launch of the USAID-funded Land Governance Support Authority (LGSA) Geomatics Education Program in Bomi County.The program is a 10-month training that is supported by USAID, which has a partnership with the FTI. It also seeks to train students in geomatics education, with the aim of producing survey technicians that will go on to support the Liberian land sector. Graduates of the program will be awarded technical level certificate.Located about 20 minutes’ drive from Tubmanburg in a community of about 12,000 residents, the school in Bomi County has no fence.Although a large part of the school building is still in a state of dilapidation, the USAID-funded Land Governance Support Activity (LGSA) in partnership with the FTI administration managed to construct about 4 of its facilities, which include two dormitories, a computer lab, and  classroom, Karmo disclosed.“But the remaining classrooms and the teachers’ quarters are yet to be constructed, and we are waiting on the World Bank’s funding,” Karmo indicated.One of the dilapidated structures at the Forestry Training Institute campus in Bomi County“LGSA constructed the classrooms and had them furnished. But we do not know what is holding back the other part of the project, like funds from the World Bank,” Karmo noted.In 2019, Karmo said, the government budgeted US$300,000, but it has been very slow in disbursement.“Right now to feed students on campus is very difficult. It’s LGSA that is right now providing fuel for our generators and other facilities,” Karmo said. “And right now we are indebted to our vendors and wondering how to get the money to settle arrears.”He said the government’s approved budget cannot is not enough for the operational expenses of the institute.And despite the budgetary provision from the government, evidence suggests that more needs to be done by donors and development partners, to ensure the implementation of the Land Rights Law and the Liberia Land Authority (LAA) functions.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Read More →