Action-2015 Celebrates Int’l Youth Day in Gbarnga

Today marks the celebration of International Youth Day at which time over 100,000 young people around the world including Liberia, will be taking action to show that they as the largest generation of young people in history, have the power to hold their governments to account over the promises made in July, 2015.

In September of this year, world leaders will meet in New York to announce a new set of global goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, which will shape the future of people and planet by ending poverty, inequality and climate change.

Furthermore, world leaders will meet in Paris in December to discuss new climate agreements, which could set us on a path for a safer, renewable future. This offers an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically transform the lives of young people and fulfill their human rights.

Over 100 action/2015 events will take place worldwide on International Youth Day. From underwater demonstrations on the impacts of climate change in Sri Lanka to a Dalit and Indigenous Youth Summit in Lucknow, India, where young people will take meaningful action in their communities.

To amplify this global action, a team of 35 young volunteers will take part in a hackathon in the UK, collecting, creating and sharing all of the amazing content from action/2015 International Youth Day events around the world to further raise awareness.

For Liberia, programs marking the International Youth Day will be held in the City of Gbarnga, Bong County, today and the national mobilization events being organized by action/2015 Liberia will include a Marathon Youth Run, workshop on the role of young people in humanitarian action/aid, a Youth Debate on Gender Equality and Poverty, kickball and football games and a musical concert in which over 1, 500 youths will participate to create awareness about issues affecting young people in the country.

The slogan for the Gbarnga’s celebration is “Youth Power It Is Down To Us”.

Action/2015, one of the world’s largest civil society campaigns, is calling on the public to join them in their calls to ensure world leaders commit to a better world.

At the UN General Assembly and unveiling of the Sustainable Development Goals in September this year, action/2015 will continue to mobilize the public in New York and across the world to remind leaders that they are watching and calling for ambitious goals for everyone.

Samuel Chanchan, Focal Person of action/2015 in Liberia said: “This year world leaders are making big decisions about the most important issues our generation faces; how they will tackle poverty, inequality and climate change. It is down to us to make sure they make big promises, and to ensure that these promises are kept.”

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Covenant Life Bible School Begins 5-Day Conference

The Covenant Life Bible School (CLBS) located in Sinkor has begun a five-day conference under the theme: “Breaking the Chains of Lamination” with text taken from the book of Acts 12:1-7.

The five days conference, which commenced on August 10-14, 2015, is being held at the Redeemed Fellowship International in Monrovia.

Briefing journalists over the weekend, the Executive Director of CLBS, Rev. Sila S. Harris, said the conference is intended to assemble people from various counties to continuously inform them about God’s words and the importance of Christianity in the society.

Rev. Harris further revealed that the conference is also part of the Covenant Life Bible School year end academic certificate program season normally done by the church.

The CLBS Director said preachers from various churches within Monrovia and other parts of the country will form part of the preaching during the five day conference.

“At the end of the five days conference; we will also hold graduation for 29 students from the CLBS and they will be certificated as they have completed their studies,” said Rev. Harris

He said the number of graduating students should have been higher, but indicated that due to some unforeseen challenges, other students dropped from the studies.

Rev. Harris furthered that students are taught various courses during their six weeks program before test is being administered, which he said qualifies them to complete the training.

According to him, the training offers diplomat courses for students who leave their various churches to attend the training.

“People who leave their churches to attend the six weeks training program offered by CLBS comes through massive awareness exercise carried to various churches across the country to have their members attend the diplomat training program,” added Rev. Harris.

Meanwhile, Rev. Harris has encouraged participants of the training program to pay keen attention to the training in order to successfully benefit CLBS program.

 

Above The Law?

By: Sobondo K. Fayiah/Intern

Several Liberians in Monrovia and its environs have complained of government officials including members of Liberia National Police (LNP) are usually seen violating the traffic laws by leaving their original lanes and riding on the opposite lanes with speed, emergency lights and blaring sirens.

They said these officials are usually seen during the morning and evening hours violating the traffic ordinance by putting on their sirens or emergency lights and taking the opposite directions while ordinary commuters and private vehicles are seen queued in long lines driving slowly, thus prompting Liberians to term their action as lawbreakers instead of being lawmakers and enforcers.

“Officials of government who violate the traffic rule feel that they are above the law, that’s why they keep breaking the law every time because of the power they have in the country so they are not to be punished if even they violate,” one commuter riding from Paynesville to central Monrovia, only identified as James, complained.

James remarked: “These officials use their power to intimidate the traffic police officers and also think they are superior to the ordinary people.”

The traffic rules dictate that vehicle operators should not leave their lanes for an opposite lane, except ambulances, presidential convoy and other VIPs as determined by state security.

LEITI Lauded For Extractive Education

Citizens of Nimba County have lauded the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI), for its nationwide dissemination exercise of its 5th report on the extractive sector of Liberia.

Speaking at the LEITI outreach event in Nimba County, the citizens thanked LEITI for initiating the process of educating them on the resource governance process of the country. They expressed delight about the education being provided by LEITI, adding that it will give them a clearer understanding of the process.

The first phase of LEITI outreach event is intended to facilitate public education on the finding of the EITI report which allows citizens to debate and make input aimed at improving the resource governance process.

The exercises are conducted in partnership with civil society, the media and the community people to help them understand the process of reporting in the extractive sector in Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe Counties.

“We are glad that LEITI has come to explain to our understanding on how funding from our natural resources are being paid by companies operating in the extractive sector and how those resources are being received by our government,” one of the participants, Saye Kogar said.

Explaining the finding of the 5th Report to citizens and residents of Nimba County, the Communications and Outreach Officer of LEITI, Samson Wonnah, said “the report revealed that the total amount received by government from oil, mining, forestry and agriculture sectors for the period under review amounts to US$110,146,657.00 representing 7% increase in the total receipts from the extractive companies compared to what was recorded in the 4th report.”

According to Wonnah, the report also captured development undertaken by concession companies including Arcelormittal, China Union, Western Cluster and BHP Billiton amongst others as corporate social benefits to citizens of their respective concession areas.

Wonnah told the gathering that payments from the agriculture, forestry and mining sectors increased by 53%, 98% and 29% respectively, While those from the oil sector dropped about 72%, adding that the significant reduction in contributions from the oil sector can be attributed to payments made in the prior year for the acquisition of Oranto and Chevron as well as withholding taxes recorded for Chevron in that year,” he noted.

The report covers the fiscal year July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 and Summarizes key findings, recommendations and observations of the extractive sector’s contribution to the overall Liberian economy; fixed component of amounts due; amount paid and revenue tracking processes between the Government of Liberia and all mining, oil, agriculture and forestry companies engaged in the exploration and exploitation of the country’s extractive and other natural resources. It further provides information on in kind contributions made by the companies to communities, organizations and institutions out of their contractual obligations.

Some of the Main Finding

According to the main finding of the report, only fourteen (14) out of a total of 184 registered companies submitted data on employment, export and revenue to the Reconciler, while  the total number of companies registered with the LEITI, increased from 111 in the 4th Report to 148 in the 5thReport, translating to a 33% increment.

The LEITI finding also revealed that payments templates for from individual Small Scale Miners and Pit Sawyers below the reconciliation threshold were not obtained directly from them. However, the total of US$756,950 for small scale miners and US$68,179 for pit sawyers (mainly from chainsaw lumber fees and export collections) were consolidated and presented by the Ministry of Finance and FDA respectively.

These amounts were therefore not reconciled.

Apart from the mining sector which saw an increase in the submission rate to 50% from 43% in the 4thReport and 44% in the 3rdReport, the forestry and agriculture sectors experienced a drop in their submission rates. The oil sector has over the last three reporting periods maintained a 100% submission rate.

The forestry sector has seen a consistent drop in submission rate from 90%in the 3rdReport to 80% and 50% in the 4th and 5th Reports respectively.

The decreasing rate of submission is due to the increased number of participating companies and a number of companies that are below the sector threshold which are not required to submit templates.

The finding further revealed that the agriculture sector has been unstable with submission rate from 86% in the 3rdReport to 100% in the 4thReport and subsequently 77% in the 5thReport. It should however be noted that the three (3) companies that did not submit templates in the agriculture sector were considered as registered extractive companies that are yet to engage in direct extractive activities. Template submission is therefore not a mandatory requirement for them.”

Recommendation

“A production audit across all sectors is required to help determine the amounts that ought to be paid so as improve the data collection process. This will be enhanced when the Government of Liberia monitoring ministries and agencies put in place mechanisms to facilitate comprehensive documentation of amount due from the companies in any given fiscal year.

Sanctions must be brought against companies that did not submit templates and those that submitted without the required attestations and sign-offs. Companies participating in the exercise should always adhere to the instructions and guidance provided by the reconciler at the workshop that precedes the submission of information. Common reporting software should be developed and made accessible to all agencies and LEITI so that information can be assessed at all times by all authorized stakeholder,” the recommendation concluded.

 

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Lawmaker Troubled Over High Fees At Public Health Facilities

By Abraham Moris-231886294820-abrahammorrisabrahammorris@gmail.com

Grand Bassa County Senator and a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Gender and Social Protection, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, is craving plenary indulgence to ensure that the Minister of Health, Dr. Bernice Dahn and Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, Dr. Francis Kateh, be invited in a public hearing to provide clarity on the health status of the country and also state as to why x-ray machines are not found in the various regional and referral hospitals.

In a communication to plenary dated August 10, 2015, Senator Lawrence said due to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country and the vulnerability of the country’s health sector, many donors were attracted to the country and have been raising huge amounts of money to help Liberia.

She also wants plenary to inquire from the Chief Medical Officer as to why money is raised and donated for free health care but and money is being collected by the John F. Kennedy  (JFK) Medical hospital and other public health facilities around the country.

“I Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence have paid over US$500.00 (five hundred United States dollars) to release a patient at JFK, including other amounts paid to the JFK and other government health institutions,” she explained.

According to her, as much as she supports free health care, there is a need to define what free health care delivery is and what should be paid at government health facilities, so as to remove financial burden on ordinary Liberians or divert those funds being generated to government revenue for the improvement of the facilities and also provide the necessary services needed.

Senator Lawrence continued: “Today, all regional/major hospitals in the country do not have x-ray machines, the most needed and cheapest medical equipment. Drugs are never available; patients have to purchase almost everything before treatment, because the there is a claim that the revenue envelope is small to do more.”

“Therefore, Dr. Kateh should be invited for an open public hearing to tell us how well the free medical program is working in the country’s health sector,” the communication noted.

The Grand Bassa County Senator recalled that on August 6, 2015, the Senate concurred with the House of Representatives to pass the 2015/16 National Budget. And in that budget, a total of US$72 million has been allocated for MOH which is 12 percent of the entire budget mostly covering salaries.

But instead of inviting the two Ministers, Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe Sheriff recommended that the Committee on Health, Gender and Social Protection, headed by Senator Peter Coleman invite the Minister and her Deputy in committee room to investigate the issues at bar and report to plenary in a week time; a decision that received unanimous endorsement.

 

‘Not Fascinated By Honors’ -WAJA President

By Mafanta Kromah/ Yassah Wright     mafanta.kromah@gmail.com (Interns)

The President of the West African Journalist Association (WAJA), Peter Quaqua, says he is not fascinated by honors that he does not deserve.

The WAJA Head made the statement Monday, when he paid an acquaintance visit to Media Aid Foundation, which runs a journalism institution named in his honor.

Quaqua is a former President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).

Speaking during the visit, Quaqua indicated that he is not fascinated by honors.

However, Quaqua said he accepts Media Aid Foundation naming an institution in his honor; adding, “I accept your honor because I believe this is well deserving.” He also noted that rejecting such honor is tantamount to killing the vision.

According to him, journalism is the pilot to democracy and as such, students undergoing these trainings will in the future surpass the current breed of journalists 20 years from now. He also urged the prospective journalists to take the career with passion and professionalism.

The former PUL President also urged student journalists to have a career goal.

He further noted that the trainees should put their brain in gear before talking or writing because they have to live to the expectation of the society.

The President of WAJA also encouraged trainee journalists to engage themselves in diluting the corrupted mind by creating the nose for news.

Quaqua also challenged officials other founding members of the institution to take the responsibility to chick the conduct of students that will leave the school.

Speaking during the visit, the WAJA boss said the institution is not for him, but in his honor. “Therefore, students of that institution should perform well, otherwise they will bring shame to the institution,” he stressed.

“This is a desire to meet a goal ahead of us, and we can make it and achieve more than those journalists out there. Therefore, we should go out there and bring stories about those boys and girls who are living in the slum, rather than bringing shame and disgrace to your institution,” Quaqua warned.

 

Granted! -Parker Bond Sails

Criminal Court “C” Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh, on Tuesday ruled, accepting the US$1.2 million insurance bond filed by defendants Matilda W. Parker and Christiana Kpobor Paelay.

“A careful perusal of the insurance bond, filed by the defendants, shows that the said bond met the requirements to execute the criminal appearance bond in the case,” Judge Gbeneweleh ruled on Tuesday.

According to him, primary objective or purpose of the criminal appearance bond is to secure the appearance of the defendants before a court of competent jurisdiction.

The Criminal Court “C” Judge indicated that the surety during the examination answered in the affirmative that the defendants will appear before the court whenever needed, declaring that “the bond is therefore valid”.

Tuesday’s ruling followed arguments by prosecution that the bond was defective and grossly insufficient. At Monday’s arguments, prosecution however admitted that the bond met some of the requirements.

But they pointed out that the Insurance Company (Family Dollars and Universal Insurance Service), did not show any assets.

It can be recalled that defendants Matilda W. Parker and   Christiana K. Paelay were indicted by the grand jury for Montserrado County for the alleged crime of economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy in the amount of US$ 837,950.00.

They obtained an insurance bond from the Family Dollars   Universal Insurance Company Service, as a surety in the tone of US$1.2M to insure their appearance before the court, which was filed before the court on July 21, 2015 and approved by the court.

Judge Gbeneweleh, further said the defense on the other hand filed a 25-count motion for justification on July 29,2015, contented  among other thing that the amount charged in the indictment is US$837,950.00 which  fall in the category of first degree felony punishable  by fine of US$10,000.00 and maximum imprisonment of ten years multiplied by US$ 25.00 per month which equals to US$3,000.00.

According to him, the surety  was  examined consistent with  law and justified before the court  that the Insurance Company  has US$400,000.00, and US$ 350,000.00 worth  of property  as requirement of the Central Bank to grant a certificate authorizing them to establish  as reinsuring entity value US$750,000.00 also  as requirement by the  CBL.

 

Lobby Spree-Unprecedented Tour At Capitol Building

Days following the departure of top Chinese companies’ delegation from Liberia, who came  to seal a deal on investment opportunities in the country,  a lobby spree has reportedly begun at Capitol Building to fast-track any impending  concession agreement as such.

Well-placed sources at the Capitol Building hinted the In Profile Daily Tuesday afternoon that Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, in a highly spirited mood, was in the company of a record number of both representatives and senators on the Senate Wing in closed door meetings.

“This unprecedented tour headed by the VP came about when members of the Lower House and the Upper House resolved Tuesday’s separate sessions to executive sessions. The development shows some kind of lobby being in the making for a well-guided deal,” one source claimed.

VP Boakai  is being  seen as a brain behind negotiations leading to the coming into Liberia recently, of the Chinese delegation, after a Liberian delegation headed by Minister of State Without Portfolio, Sylvester Grigsby, visited  China  to strike the deal.

Vice President Boakai in a release issued by his office during the stay of delegation in the country stressed that unless the natural resources of a country are exploited for the benefit of the people, the people will continue to live in poverty and noted that this is the largest Chinese Business delegation he has hosted and hoped that something good can come out of the trip.

He hailed the relationship between Liberia and the Peoples Republic of China and spoke of the rising levels of economic cooperation that could bring the two peoples closer together and boost economic prosperity between them.

He made these statements when a thirteen- man Chinese business delegation, accompanied by Liberia’s Ambassador to China, McKinley Thomas and Chinese Ambassador to Liberia Zhang Yue, paid a courtesy call on him at his Capitol Building Office at the time.

The delegation which departed Liberia last weekend included some of China’s top companies that said they were in the country to explore the possibility of investing in mining, power, engineering, fruit processing, and rail transport, solar and wind energy and mineral exploration, among others.

Meanwhile,  sources on Capitol Hill have also hinted this paper that the unprecedented underground torrent of lobbying reportedly influenced by VP Boakai  is to first soften  the grounds  for the  proposed  Wologisi agreement for which the Chinese Foreign Minister who later joined the delegation are said to be offering  so much inducements totaling  US$4b package.

 

Judge Chenoweth Calls For Sustained Peace

The Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Kakata, Margibi County, Mardea Tarr- Chenoweth, is calling on Liberians to do everything to upholding the peace in Liberia as the country gradually moves towards another general and presidential elections

Judge Chenoweth said there can be no greater good for the country then for its citizens to maintain the current peace enjoyed for the last ten years with the support of the international community.

Judge Chenoweth made the statement on Monday in Kakata when she delivered the Judge’s charge at program marking the formal opening of court for the August Term.

Speaking on the topic: “Upholding the Peace”, Judge Chenoweth said in the wake of upholding the peace, Liberians must refrain from acts that provoke dissatisfaction, injustices and conflicts.

The female Judge further said the peace that Liberians are enjoying today comes as a great break of light “and therefore Liberians must be very sensitive to situation that tends to send us back to calamity”.

She also said in keeping the peace in the country, the Judiciary also has a very vital role to play in maintaining the peace in the country adding “Cases being adjudicated by the court are not properly done in accordance with laws and allow sentiments to permeate their minds, the court could render a wrongful judgment that will cause an aggrieved party to result to lawlessness that could cause a setback in upholding the peace.”

She used the occasion to call on judges, lawyers, magistrates and city solicitors across the country to always do the right thing within the ambit of the laws and not engage in acts inimical to the laws.

In responding to the Judge’s charge, the Dean of the local bar, Margibi County Acting County Attorney, Isaac Liverpool George said he was very much delighted to see another term of court.

Attorney George said his office will work along with the court to ensure the speedy adjudication of criminal cases on the trial docket for this August AD, 2015 Term of Court.

He also expressed the hope to see more cases tried before the end of the August Term of Court as during the last term, there were far less cases handled as a result of the absence of lawyers representing parties in most instances.

There are 26 cases including 17 civil cases and 9 criminal cases on the trial docket for the August AD. 2015 Term of Court.

 

LEDI Appreciates Ebola Fighter -Provides Assistance

The United States-based Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) has concluded providing monetary assistance to several medical institutions in Liberia in appreciation of the beneficiaries’ heroic fight against and defeat of Ebola.

The Liberia Economic Development Initiative is a Cleveland, Ohio based nonprofit organization seeking to reduce poverty and change lives in Liberia. The primary objective of the organization is to build modern state-of-the-art public libraries across Liberia to improve the educational sector as well as the general economy because an educated workforce is a basis of a sound economy.

LEDI is also currently providing scholarships to impoverished students within the country. LEDI is undertaking a holistic approach by focusing on building and supplying healthcare facilities, supporting small businesses, building and supplies schools, etc.

Organizations that benefited from the LEDI medical assistance delivered late July 2015 include the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Samaritan Purse, Redemption Hospital and James Davis Hospitals. Others are Jaw Community Clinic, THT Clinic, Star of the Sea, Barnersville Clinic, among others.

In delivering the funds, the LEDI Liberian staffers commended the Liberian medical organizations for their various outstanding works during the Ebola crisis. They described the clinics and hospitals as true heroes and encouraged them to remain defensive and protective of Liberian populace who are always vulnerable to medical challenges.

In response, the organizations variously commended LEDI and its donors for recognizing their medical works in Liberia and for the cash donations provided.

The administrators of the medical institutions that received the monetary assistance thanked LEDI and collaborating donor institutions for standing with the Liberian people in their time of need. They said such compassionate assistance from organizations within the “US is an indication that we are our brothers and sisters keepers, despite where we live.”

“We are appreciative of this contribution from LEDI and those who contributed to it,” said Proprietor of the Jaw Community Clinic. “We see this as relieving and particularly patriotic because thinking about us in this corner is an indication for love of country.”

Speaking to reporters upon receipt of report of the full implementation of the LEDI Medical Mission, Mr. Rufus Darkotey, President of LEDI, said the donations were in partnership with many USA based organizations, including the Cleveland State University (CSU), the Margaret Wong and Associates Law firm, among others. He said the organization is delighted to stand by the people of Liberia in the fight to eradicate the deadly Ebola disease from Liberia.

According to his official newsletter to the CSU community, Dr. Ronald Berkman, President of CSU, said even from 5,000 miles away, we can help. He therefore brought the CSU community together to aid institutions and individuals in the country who are facing the deadly Ebola virus.

Mr. Rufus Darkortey indicated that every Liberian felt the impact of the deadly Ebola virus, irrespective of their geographical location at the moment. “This created a dire desire to do something to save lives. That is why LEDI galvanized the financial resources from the United States to help the vital medical institutions that supported the Ebola fight,” he said.

“Though the organization is based in the United States, its primary focus is to help reduce poverty and change lives in Liberia,” he said, thanking the CSU, Margaret Wong and Associates, the Board of Directors, staff, and donors of LEDI, and other institutions for raising the needed funds for the medical institutions here in Liberia.

The LEDI leader also thanked the people of Liberia and the stakeholders, including the government, local and international organizations for helping to eradicate the virus from the country.