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17
Jan
2020

Outdated laws governing scrap metal trade – audit

first_img… revenue leakage suspectedThe laws governing the scrap metal trade need to be completely revamped, according to recommendations emanating from the forensic audit report into the operations.The report was officially released on the Finance Ministry’s website and cited a number of irregularities and uncertainties surrounding the trade, including the fact that the laws governing the operations are severely outdated.The unit has its origin in the Old Metal Dealers Act Cap. 91:08 first promulgated in 1900. Supervisory responsibility for the unit was transferred from the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce to the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) by virtue of the 2012 Cabinet Paper dated January 31, 2012.The CHPA is conferred with specific statutory powers and duties which do not include the regulation of the business of dealers in Old Metals, as described in the long?title of the Old Metal Dealers Act 91:08.The report has recommended there be widespread consultation with key stakeholders before any concrete decisions are taken on the way forward in relation to the operations.The document pointed out too that interim measures must be put in place since the trade is currently at a standstill and exports are temporarily banned.Last year, scrap metal dealers pleaded with the government to quickly resume the trade, noting that the closure of their businesses has definitely reduced their earnings, thus denying them a comfortable living.The audit, which was conducted by Ram & McRae Accounting Firm, found that there is no consistent policy towards the trade, with government opening and closing the trade at will.It noted too that there seems a total lack of coordination between and among the four agencies involved: the Guyana Police Force, the Ministry of Business, the Scrap Metal Unit, and the Guyana Revenue Authority.The report said it is unclear why responsibility for the trade was transferred to CHPA and why no Export Duty is paid under the Customs Act.It suspected that there is a high probability of revenue leakage but because of the inadequate reporting, any estimate is merely speculative.Prior to the official release, Guyana Times published articles on the contents of the report after soliciting a leaked copy.Former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali had explained that the Unit was transferred for better management given that both sectors had one Minister, and the Scrap Metal Unit and the Enforcement Unit of CHPA were both viewed as having the capacity that can be interdependent in order to police the system.“You may recall that one time there was tremendous vandalism of property, even phone lines and so on as it related to the scrap metal trade, so an enforcement arm became necessary for the Scrap Metal Unit,” Ali pointed out, noting that instead of establishing another enforcement arm, a decision was made to bring it over to the Housing Ministry for more integration.Furthermore, the then head of the Scrap Metal Trade Unit Taslim Baksh had argued that the findings in the report are not justified.Meanwhile, the report also cited instances of illegal trade: “Inspectors and enforcers would visit unlicensed yards but we were informed that they do not observe the transfer of metals to licensed yards.”Former Junior Communities Minister with responsibility for Housing Keith Scott had stated that anyone found to be not guilty of illegal trading, they would be allowed to resume their operations, while the others would be dealt with accordingly.last_img read more

17
Jan
2020

2 guilty, 1 freed for sexual assault of 17-year-old

first_imgBarama rape trial— number one accused jailed for 29 yearsNine years after a 17-year-old girl was found naked and crying on a bed in Barama Company Limited, East Bank Demerara (EBD), after being raped, a mixed jury on Thursday found two of the accused guilty, while the third accused was freed.After lengthy deliberations between State Counsel Siand Dhurjon and defence Attorneys in the Demerara Assizes, the mixed jury returned their verdict to presiding Judge, Justice Jo-Ann Barlow.Paul Abrams, Claude Craig and Holston Melville were all accused of raping and sodomising the 17-year-old in 2007, while she was employed at Barama Company Limited, Land of Canaan, EBD.Abrams, the number one accused, was sentenced to 29 years in prison, as the jury by way of a unanimous decision found him guilty of buggery and indecent assault.Abrams’ Attorney, Bernard De Santos (SC) told the court that his client was married and is the father of four children. However, Justice Barlow said that society expects better from its men, especially when placed in a supervisory role, based on the fact that Abrams was the teen’s Supervisor at Barama.Justice Barlow also highlighted that the jury did not find him guilty of rape because the facts showed that he and the VC had “an arrangement” but he negated from the arrangement and imprisoned her, then violated her in the worst possible way.The number two accused, Craig, was only found guilty of indecent assault by a jury which was split 11 to one.However, Craig was found not guilty on the account of buggery.Attorney Nigel Hughes in his representation of the number two accused told the court that his client was 39 years old, a father of four with the youngest being two years old. Craig is gainfully employed and the sole breadwinner of his family.Hughes said that while his client is deeply remorseful, he understands that he must be penalised for his actions and “when we are young we tend to have a lot of free time on our hands. It seems as if everyone that night had a lot of time on their hands,” the Attorney said.Justice Barlow sentenced Craig to four years imprisonment as she highlighted that he showed no mercy when he found his co-worker naked and crying.Meanwhile, the third accused, Melville, who was also represented by Attorney De Santos was freed after the jury found him not guilty of buggery and indecent assault.On the evening of December 5, 2007, the then 17-year-old female dryer operator was working the night shift when her Supervisor, Abrams, asked her for assistance and led her into a room, where he proceeded to rape and sodomise her.Abrams reportedly then locked the young woman in the room and later returned in the company of Melville who also reportedly proceeded to rape and sodomise her.After some time elapsed, the two men left the room, locking the woman in, once more; it was then Craig entered and reportedly sodomised the young woman.last_img read more

15
Jan
2020

Voinjama Water Treatment Plant in Dilapidated State

first_imgThe decades-old Liberia and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) water treatment plant in Voinjama City, Lofa County continues to remain in a debilitated state.Voinjama City, the capital of Lofa County, is home to more than 11,000 residents. The county’s capital also plays host to a number of foreign and Liberian-owned businesses.Every year during the Dry Season residents of Voinjama endure the hardship of acute clean water shortages.In a recent tour of Voinjama, dozens of the city’s inhabitants were seen desperately searching for water sources while others were stranded and stood in long queues for several hours at old hand pumps.The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Liberia Municipal Water Project (LMWP/Tetra-tech) has earmarked US$12 million for water treatment rehabilitation.The LWSC’s outstation water treatment plant in Voinjama was completely destroyed during the Liberian civil conflict in the early 1990s.According to LMWP/Tetra-tech officials, the water project is a four-year plan intended to rehabilitate the provincial capital cities of Robertsport, Sanniquellie, and Voinjama in Grand Cape Mount, Nimba and Lofa Counties, respectively.LMWP/Tetra-tech officials told the Daily Observer that several training seminars have been conducted for Local Steering Committee members intended for the sustainable management of LWSC outstations in the three counties.Hence, the ground breaking ceremony for the Robertsport City water project was held in Grand Cape Mount County last year which was attended by the American Ambassador to Liberia Madam Deborah Malac and top officials of USAID, LMWP/Tetra-tech, LWSC and local Liberian Government officials.When interviewed early last week, some Voinjama residents underscored the need to fast-track the water project; which they feel is moving at a snail’s pace in terms of implementation.They claimed that too much bureaucracy is associated with the actual implementation of the water.The residents explained that several water sources in Voinjama are not reliable as majority of the water wells and hand pumps are in dilapidated states.Some of the residents and business people told the Daily Observer last week that they get up as early as 4:30am to rush to the various hand pumps and water wells to fetch the available clean water.Voinjama City is one of the fastest growing in terms of population among Liberia’s 15 counties.Because of this fact, the residents said the provision of clean pipe-borne water to the city’s more than 11,000 inhabitants and their respective business entities could not be over-emphasized.Ms. Kebbeh Kesselly said they have endured so many hardships as a result of the continued water shortage in Voinjama and its immediate environs.Businessman Mulbah Beyan, a restaurant operator in Voinjama noted the situation in the city needs urgent intervention by the LWSC and its support partners.Several of Voinjama’s major water sources are presently running dry. Due to this situation urgent steps by the LWSC’s management need to be buttressed by all concerned stakeholders.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

14
Jan
2020

SCoL US$25K School Project Underway in Cape Mount

first_imgChild advocacy group, Street Child of Liberia, has embarked on the construction of six public elementary schools in two districts in Grand Cape Mount County. Street Child’s Community Animator, Laybianumah T. Kwakpae told the Daily Observer yesterday that two of the schools are under construction in Garwala district and four in Teewor district. He said the estimated cost of the project is US$25K.  “The Tienimai Public School and the Kangafalie Public School will be in Garwala,” he added. The remaining four schools in Teewor, he said, “will be the Sinje Teewor Elementary School, Bumah Public School, Njojah Public School, and the Ducorbongoma Public School.” Anticipating the completion of the schools for the next academic year, he said nineteen teachers have been selected to undergo training at the Grand Bassa Teacher Training College. He explained that each of the classrooms will be expected to accommodate 45 students and it will provide relief for parents and their children in the six communities.“While Street Child is providing other building materials and benches for all the classrooms,” Kwakpae said, “the communities are also bringing rocks and other needed materials as their contribution.” Kwakpae also revealed that Street Child has provided US$2, 900 to each of the six communities to engage in farming in the organization’s Income Generating Initiative. “The money is intended to develop farms in the six communities and the income from the farms will be used to pay teachers and take care of other necessities,” Kwakpae said. He said the communities have embraced the plan and are working to ensure that they are successful. Meanwhile, Kwakpae said each of the six communities has made available 10 to 15 acres of farmland and the people are busy working on them. “They are very excited about the two projects,” he said, “because they know they are the ones that will benefit in the end.” Street Child provides support to street children by reuniting them with their parents and guardians, as well as empowering parents with seed money to ensure that they have means of support.  SCoL has over 400 children in its program.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

14
Jan
2020

LNOC Boss Commends SG Over Efficiency Despite ‘Disability’

first_imgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) The Secretary General of the Liberia National Olympics Committee (LNOC), has been described as the “Integral backbone and key” to the promotion and development of sports in the country.Mr. Joseph F. Willie, popularly known as Bob Willie, despite his disability, remains the brain behind the LNOC, according to president Philipbert S. Browne said.“Up to present, Bob Willie remains the secretary general of the LNOC, whose efficiency on the job has not been deterred by his physical disability,” the LNOC boss opined.Browne said Bob Willie came into prominence as a sports administrator and as president of the Inter-School Sports Administration (ISSA). At the time, Browne was a director of sports for one of the schools that took part in the ISSA’s League.Later, Browne became vice president of Liberia Basketball Federation (LBF) and then its president – and Willie, being then president of the ISSA was automatically a member of the Executive Committee.And by virtue of their positions at the LBF and ISSA both men were executive members of the LNOC.Bob Willie was the secretary and Browne was vice president for operations.Then came a period when the LNOC was mired in confusion in which Willie served as the mediator, with the case finally settled with support with Olympic officials in Switzerland.In 2005, Browne was elected president and Willie got the secretary general’s post.Six years later, after building a vibrant, peaceable and answerable LNOC, Mr. Willie suffered from diabetes and one of his legs had to be amputated.“Unfortunately, as the LNOC began to master its trade, calamity struck which almost brought the Liberian Olympic movement to its knees,” Browne said.During the 2012 London Olympic Games, Willie was treated in an advanced hospital and after a month returned home in excellent health.Having fully recovered, Willie traveled to Ghana and got a prosthetic leg.“Bob returned home with his new leg and started to take steps. It was good seeing my Secretary General walking again, but apparently that was just the beginning of his trouble,” Mr. Browne noted.Browne said: “That old devil wouldn’t leave Bob alone, putting him through hell to curse God and die, but that wouldn’t be the case.“His faith as a Deacon at an Assembly of God Church was steadfast and would take whatever Satan would throw his ways.”Few days after Bob got his prosthetic leg; his second foot had gone bad and was amputated.“I rushed to the hospital the next morning, but the surgery had been completed successfully– this time I made a complete fool of myself because I looked at Bob Willie and cried bitterly.”last_img read more

14
Jan
2020

Commerce Ministry Hosts Private Sector Engagement on Business Inspection Reform

first_imgA one day working session to update the private sector on Business Inspection Reform was held by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Monrovia on Tuesday, May 13, to provide the business community a platform from which the ministry could glean feedback on the new inspection regime.Acting Commerce Minister Cyril A. Allen, II, who spoke at the opening, said the ministry is doing rebranding process at the Ministry to ensure that the business community and the ministry get feedback.Mr. Allen described the reform processes of the Inspectorate Division as  a way of helping the ministry carry on it fuctions.Also speaking, Assistant Minster for Industry Mohammed M. Turay made a brief presentation on the formulation of the General Inspection Procedures. He said the Ministry received positive feedback from the private sector regarding inspections and was encouraged to continue the process of harmonizing the National Inspections Regime.For their part, the business community requested that the Ministry continue with such private sector engagements and revitalize the Liberia “Better Businesses Forum” which will be a vital channel for public/private dialogue.In another development, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, at the head of a high profile Liberian delegation to the United States, has concluded a second working party meeting on a positive note with members expressing support for Liberia’s ambitious goal of acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10).  Scheduled for December, 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya it will be the first time a Ministerial Conference is held in Africa.The delegation conducted several meetings at the bilateral level with several members of the WTO and other partners including the ITC and UNCTAD. They also participated in a media event with the international press.Liberia since 2007 has embarked on a journey to join the multilateral trading system. With support from the US, EU, and several development partners including UNCTAD, ITC, the World Bank and the Enhance Integrated Framework, a cross section of government ministries and agencies have been working on the accession process to achieve this important milestone of thesecond working party meeting, bringing Liberia closer to its goal of joining by December in Nairobi at MC10. However much work is ahead and the technical teams are working on meeting the key deliverables to stay on target.The next step is to have a third working party meeting where outstanding issues are addressed and concluded in order to consolidate the accession package for presentation to members. This milestone in the process is due by July 2015.All WTO members have access to equal trade benefits and lower trade barriers with each other, allowing them a larger market for their goods, leading to greater sales, more jobs and faster economic growth.Among many other benefits, WTO membership also allows develping countries such as Liberia access to developed markets at the lower tariff rate and allows them time to remove reciprocal tariffs in its own market.Members of the delegation include Dr. Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture; Augustine Jarrett, Economic Advisor, Office of President; Angelique Weeks, Chair, Liberia Telecommunication Authority;  Decontee King-Sackee, Deputy Commissioner, Liberia Revenue Authority; Seklau Wiles, Deputy Minister of Agriculture; Roosevelt Gould, Chief Legal Counsel, Ministry of Commerce and Industry;  Roland Morris, IP Advisor; Paul Tate, Charge d’Affairs, Mission of Liberia to UN Agencies, Stephen Marvie, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Commerce; William Buku, Assistant commissioner, Liberia Revenue Authority; and Alexander Nuetah, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

14
Jan
2020

LIMU to Honor Comedians

first_imgSamguan, Paul and John Flomo to join other popular comedians to receive certificates of appreciation from the Liberia Movie Union (LIMU) for the roles they play in producing well-liked films for the Liberian market.The comedians will be so honored at an event scheduled for October 10 at Crown Hill Cinemas in Monrovia, where they will join guest artists, including Takun J and Soul Fresh, in entertaining the audience. Speaking to Martha Akorsah in an interview, the LIMU president said that it is better to give a man his honor while he is still alive, adding that comedians play a central role in the reawakening of the love for local movies in Liberians.“We are hosting this award to inform them that the union is about to introduce a series of policies and regulations to control the proliferation of movies on the market,” she said. “Liberia has a vibrant growing film industry, but its reputation is now at stake from the (large number) of substandard movies.”She disclosed that some of the of the regulations that will take immediate effect after the event would be the screening and reviewing of films by the Movie Control and Critique Committee before they can be made available to the general public.“Only those films that are registered with the union will be screened for marketing purposes. Films that do not meet this requirement will not be placed on the market,” she said, adding that serious remedial actions, including fines, suspensions and probations will be imposed on movie houses caught bypassing the channels on releasing films to the market.“Few films will be released on a monthly basis to make way for (a level playing) field, distribution and launching so as to enable production companies (to) generate more income, thus given time to the Movie Control and Critique Committee to reviews more films,” she said. “While it true that producers and directors are doing all they can to improve the standard of Liberian pictures, the leadership cannot continue to allow low quality and substandard films to dominate the market.” The union president said that LIMU sees the film industry as a sector with excellent potentials for growth, and this can only be accomplished when more measures to scrutinize locally produced films are put in place to raise them to international standards.The benefit of this new policy and regulation, she said, is to ensure that the public has available to it quality films that would inspire and encourage people, attract large budget films and make the collection of royalties from television stations, hotels, entertainment centers and many more a reality for those in the film industry. “When this policy is implemented, Liberian films will be able to compete with other African films on the international market,” she emphasized. Entrance fee to the October 10 event at Crown Hill Cinema is L$100. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

14
Jan
2020

MFDP Presents Legislature FY 2016/17 Draft Budget

first_imgUpon instructions from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and consistent with Section 11(1) of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2009, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Boima S. Kamara, has submitted the Draft National Budget for 2016/2017 of US$555.9 million, comprising of US$495.5 million for Core Domestic Revenue; US$30.2 million as Grant; and US$30.1 million as Contingent Domestic Revenue. The contingency, according to Minister Kamara, is due to the fact that the National Legislature must approve of some measures before these sources can be realized. “This is why I have come today to present you this Proposed Budget which we believe outlines and captures our country’s priorities in the best possible way given the constraints which I have briefly outlined earlier.“We have endeavored to keep social spending and health at US$77 million; education at US$83 million; and social development spending at 10.5 million,” said Minister Kamara.Additionally, the government has allocated US$20 million toward elections; US$10 million for UNMIL’s drawdown; US$5 million for agriculture; US$15 million on road construction; US$3 million for the Road Maintenance Fund; and US$1.5 million toward the airport runway rehabilitation.“By no measures are these amounts enough to handle the issues mentioned but at this point this is what we can afford. What we have done in this budget is to prepare an Unfunded Contingent Envelop of US$140 million which considers a number of key investments that will help to diversify and grow the economy. We intend, with your approval, to seek donor funding either in grants or loans to help underwrite these expenditures,” Minister Kamara noted.With these summaries, “I wish to thank you and on behalf of the President, submit to you the Proposed Budget for the Fiscal Year 2016/2017 and also assure you that my team and I will be available to provide additional information and clarification needed to finalize the budget,” Minister said.The newly confirmed MFDP boss said that the slowness of economic recovery from the shocks of Ebola coupled with the global decline in commodity prices which have affected two primary export commodities, iron ore and rubber, have placed severe strains on Liberia’s resource envelop. Compounding this further, he said the country’s expenditure demand has come under pressure from the need to prepare for the 2017 elections as well as support for the security forces to take over from UNMIL, which has already begun to draw down.“These are imperatives which we cannot compromise as governance and security will provide the space we need in order to conduct other businesses,” he noted.Under these conditions, the Minister said it was extremely difficult to balance the budget and that was why an extension was necessary. “I am sure that during the budget hearings, your team will get a better appreciation of what I am alluding to.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

14
Jan
2020

Cardno GM: ‘$24.5M Liberia Construction Project is Road to Success

first_imgOn June 2, Cardno launched a $24.5 million project to construct 450km of roadways in rural Liberia. The Feeder Roads Alternative and Maintenance Program (FRAMP), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, will work in four of the most populous counties for four years. “Cardno will – through this program – help to create jobs, improve livelihoods and increase access to essential markets and services,” Cardno General Manager Mark Swatek said on his first visit to Liberia. Liberia’s high rainfall – five meters annually – can wash out well-built gravel roads. But 90 percent of the country’s roadways are unpaved. Feeder roads provide rural communities critical access to health care, education, markets and basic social services. Limited road access to such services has an impact on local economy. Farmers face unpredictable road conditions that affect their ability to sell their produce and provide for their families. The challenges of transporting goods across existing roadways also increase the costs of imported goods. “We have the passion, courage and commitment to make a positive difference,” Swatek said. “This holds true for all of our work on this program in Liberia.” The project will not only build roads, but also develop a community-driven maintenance system for sustaining the progress, and train local construction firms, engineers and city planners to manage the network of roads. “We take the time to be innovative,” Swatek said. “And this program will be testing and utilizing some of the most cutting-edge road construction methods that we know of.”FRAMP is part of Cardno’s ongoing and long-term commitment to working in Liberia. Cardno is also providing technical assistance to Liberia’s Ministries of Health and Public Works, a press release said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

14
Jan
2020

10 Guineans, 1 Ivorian Charged for VR Fraud

first_imgTen Guineans, including two women, and an Ivorian national were on Friday forwarded to the Monrovia City Court in connection with their alleged attempt to register during the ongoing voter registration exercise for the 2017 presidential and legislative elections. They were charged by the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), formerly the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), with multiple crimes, including possession of valid voter registration cards, illegal resident, election fraud and falsification of Liberian citizenship.If convicted, they face a possible three-year imprisonment and a fine that will be determined by the court.The arrests come amid warning by Liberians about the trucking of foreign nationals into the country by some aspirants to have them registered to vote in their favor in the October elections.Meanwhile, the National Elections Commission (NEC) recently announced that it has registered about a million eligible voters nationwide in the first week of the five-week voter registration exercise that began on February 1.At Friday’s hearing, the alleged fraudsters were remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison, because they could not obtain lawyers to file a bond that would have stopped the court from sending them to prison.Minutes before they were surrendered to the jurisdiction of the court, LIS Commissioner Lemuel Reeves told journalists that most of the voter registration suspects were picked-up by NEC staff at various polling precincts around Monrovia, but two of them, including a new mother, were arrested when they used their voter registration cards as traveling documents to leave the country to enter Guinea.He did not disclose the particular area they were arrested.“Her voter registration card had on it a Liberian name, Amelia Kollie, which she posed to be, rather than a Guinean,” Commission Reeves alleged.The other Guinean who he said was arrested had a voter registration card with the Liberian name Kollie Flomo.“The remaining nine persons, some of them tried using their own Guinean names and posed as Liberian citizens to obtain the voter registration cards fraudulently, before they were arrested by NEC staff,” the LIS boss further explained.According to Reeves, the NEC and the joint security have carried out a series of arrests of aliens around the country, particularly Guineans, trying to obtain voter registration cards.“Some of them have been processed for prosecution at the areas where they were arrested,” Reeves disclosed.However, he could not say exactly how many aliens have been caught in possession of voter registration cards, or how many have been arrested while attempting to register.Commissioner Reeves said none of those arrested, upon interrogation, ever mentioned that a presidential aspirant was behind their actions; and all denied that any aspirant trucked them into Liberia.“When we investigated them, none of them were able to mention the name of any aspirant, maybe for reasons best known to them,” he maintained.“But, we cannot keep them in our prison more the 24 hours statutory period as provided by the law, so we have to forward them for prosecution.“Some of them are residents in the country, but are not eligible to vote in the election. But, they tried to violate the system and to have themselves obtain our voter registration card, which is illegal under our laws.”The LIS boss used the occasion to warn aliens who are considering registering in the ongoing voter registration exercise to desist from doing so.Commissioner Reeves warned aliens in the country to “stay away from the voter registration process or you will be arrested, because we are stepping up security to work closely with the NEC to carry out mass arrests, because it is not good for our electoral process; and it is a very serious offense.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more