Atina Women Initiative Celebrates World Menstrual Hygiene Day

By Mafanta Kromah

 

A local NGO called Atina Women Initiative on May 28  celebrated the World Menstrual Hygiene Day with several schools in Monrovia.

Atina Women Initiative, which is a local group founded to empower less fortunate women through macro finance loan and conducting livelihood training celebrated the world Menstrual Hygiene Day with education on the understanding of menstrual circle.

The day which is celebrated May 28 every year is set aside to give awareness to women and girls on menstruation management.

The group celebrated the day by visiting several schools in Monrovia and its environment. The founder and Executive Director of the group Mrs. Muna Weah-Weah said, there was no other way to celebrate this day than visiting schools, sharing tips on menstrual management, and the distribution of sanitary pads to young school going girls.

In a special statement to some teenage school girls at the Peace Island Elementary, Junior & Senior High School, Mrs. Weah-Weah told them that their menstrual period should not be the reason for them not being in school.

She also told the students to stay in school and focus on the lesson because Liberia is depending on them for its development and progress.

Mrs. Weah-Weah also said it was so sad hearing from some students that they use cloth, leaves, among other things to manage the waste during the time of menstruation. After the distribution of the pads to the students, she told them to use it for the intended purpose and do not give it to any of their elderly female family members.

“You should not allow any boy to fool you to have sex with you at this age because it will damage your future and you should be like me who had my first child in my married home and was working also,” she cautioned the students.

In appreciation, the students lauded the group for its works over the years and for giving them the knowledge and understanding of the ways to manage their menstrual cycles and distributing menstrual pads among them.

Mental Illness Reaches Unimaginable Concerns; Liberia Deserves Modern Mental Health Strategy

 By Mafanta Kromah

There is an increase in the number of mentally ill persons in the country and has become a common illness that victimizes people of all ages, regardless of ethnicity, fraternity, religious affiliation and or status in life.

From childhood to adult age this problem cannot be ignored and allowed to permeate society without national government immediate intervention. This nation can no longer look the other way hoping that this pandemic will go away, especially given our recent problem with the deadly EBOLA crisis.

Given the current World Bank statistics, about 10% of the world’s population lives with mental illness, many of which is caused by depression. According to the Carter Center, 40% of the 4.5 million Liberians has symptoms of major depression and about 44% appeared to have post-traumatic stress disorders. It is also estimated that is close to 50-70% of women and girls were sexually assaulted during the civil war and about 11% have contemplated suicide. Due to the dearth of mental health services in the country, only a handful of persons with mental illness received treatment, says the report.

Looking at the history of Liberia over the years, cumulating into our recent violent civil war, it’s the professional opinions of medical practitioners that some of this madness is caused by the traumatic effect from the devastating 14 years of civil war that affected people throughout this nation. In some cases, the impact of visible and invisible factors can increase the stress levels of people leading to mental madness. This is even widespread due to the lack of professional interventions to provide services to those suspected of mental illness.

The alarming unemployment rate in Liberia, estimated between 60-70% is another contributing factor to mental illness in the nation. According to LIGIS report, about 70% of the Liberian population is unemployed and as a result, people find themselves engaged in unlawful and illegal activities such as drug use. In most cases, these unlawful and illegal activities result to mental problems, which, in some instances, lead some to commit suicide or heinous crimes against other people in the Country.

This situation is so alarming that it’s not limited to urban areas. Many in rural Liberia are said to be faced with mental health conditions that continue to tear families apart. Though there has been no established data, reports from rural Liberia indicates that some men are angrily killing family members, wives and innocent people over very small issues, that can easily be negotiated and settled by immediate interventions of elders and or leaders of these communities.

It’s also an established fact that unemployment which results in poverty is a risk factor for mental illness. Poverty reduces the ability of an individual to access productive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services, thereby increasing their risks of morbidity, disability, and mortality. The stress of substance abuse associated with widespread poverty can also create problems for society and increase the risks of developing mental disorders.

Typical examples of this alarming situation have been documented in the form of reports from various media institutions in the Nation. It’s no secret that unemployment as a contributing factor has taken another trend in the Nation, where young, promising girls are prostituting themselves for survival. A recent report of a prominent young beauty queen going mad after sleeping with a strange Nigerian man is another example of how widespread is this situation.

Another factor associated with mental illness is birth trauma, especially amongst young girls who are not mentally and legally prepared and matured for childbirth. Medical practitioners have often opined that the damage to tissues and trauma associated with childbirths, along with long-term cognitive consequences which encompass both mother and the newly delivered child are major contributing factors to mental illness. These conditions, in addition to poverty usually affect young mothers, who are unable to cope with its impacts and most often end up using illegal substances as escape routes.

The effects of the use of some recreational drugs by young people in the country have also contributed to the increase in mental madness, especially amongst young people. As the usage of illicit drugs increases in the Country, the numbers of mentally ill persons are also on the rise, coupled with prostitution, human trafficking and a looming threat to the Liberian society as a whole. The effects of the use of some recreational drugs by young people in the country have also contributed to the increase in mental madness, especially amongst young people.

According to mental health science, the use of some form of recreational drugs and its impact on the brain, which makes one feel relaxed and high, also makes it difficult for users to remember things. The long-term effects and impacts causes long-term mental health problems, including schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness in a person that make a person thinks or behave abnormally and experience delusion, psychosis, and depression; a medical condition that make a person feel very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and unable to live in a normal society.

However, mental illness has become so alarming that Liberians are concern about the situation and want government immediate intervention, to create functioning mental health services, to cater to this growing pandemic. It’s estimated that 4 out of 10 young Liberians suffer some form of undiagnosed mental illness and this situation is on the rise across streets, cities, and towns in this Nation. In most cities, they are termed as “Zogos” in Liberia.

Given the statistics on the mental health situation in Liberia today, the Nation continues to suffer moderate to progressive mental disorders, mostly due to the trauma of war and the lack of decent mental health services in the Country. Many of the healthcare workers in the Nation lacked a basic understanding of mental illness, due to the lack of specific mental health curriculum and education in most, if not all institutions in the Nation.

The effects and impacts of this pandemic can be temporary or long-lasting depending on the national government’s response to this growing problem, especially if there is no urgent care and attention is given to mentally ill people; especially those on the streets of our cities, harassing and putting people lives at risk. It is believed that the only way to resolve the mental health situation in our country is to build modern mental recovery center that will promote education, socialization, and training, which will help mentally ill people to build better lives for themselves, gain empowerment, maintain independence, and be rehabilitated to earn acceptance within the Liberian society.

One notable government entity that could provide immediate relief is the Social Security Administration. While it’s a good business decision to construct high-end real estate properties in the Nation and rent to government institutions and private entities for future profits; the Government of Liberia should encourage the Social Security Administration to invest in the health and well-being of the people of this Nation, especially, mental health. This will help to reduce the number of mentally ill people on street corners in our cities and those impacted by mental illness caused by poverty in rural Liberia.

Though there is a tendency in Africa at large and Liberia is no exception, to ignore and brand mentally ill people as alcoholics and drug-users; neglected and left to survival on streets with their children. These mentally ill people and their family always face stigma in their various communities and there is a need for the Liberian Government to act and acknowledge the situation with policies to tackle and impact this growing threat.

The government through the Ministry of Education needs to bring the teachings and regulations as part of the primary, secondary and tertiary education curriculum as a long-term strategy to combat this pandemic.

This will help the young ones understand themselves, and reduce shame on society. This will help the next generation and save them from our generation experiences.

It’s hoped that this article and many others written in the past will help create awareness to the lack of appropriate services for mental illness and draw the attention of health authorities to the mental health crisis in the Country. If measures are not taken to aggressively tackle this growing pandemic and reduce or bring this situation to a manageable control, to keep our streets free and safe of people with mental madness, Liberia will face another serious problem which might drive future investors away.

 

Debt Payment Fraud -Who’s Responsible To Refund Stolen Money?

MFDP building

In its reaction to two publications by the In Profile Daily Newspaper on the alleged financial improprieties surrounding domestic debt payments, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) on May 30,2017, issued a statement.

We began reporting on series of alleged financial indiscipline and stealing characterizing the debt payment process.

But the Ministry, according to the release, admitted of being aware of the alleged malpractices, without disputing any of the irregularities reported by this paper.

Also, the Ministry disclosed that it has taken administrative actions in the situation without disclosing the content (s) of investigations leading to the administrative actions and without explaining the administrative actions taken, though it said the Ministry of Justice has concluded investigations into the issue.

Be as it may, the dismissal of an official or officials in the Debt Management Unit (DMU) reportedly based on the issue at bars without telling the Liberian people who is responsible to refund the money stolen in the process creates more questions than answers. The Ministry has revealed the dismissal of DMU head.

Classified documents in our possession indicate that payments indented for many vendors landed in the wrong hands based on forged identities presented by unscrupulous individuals in collaboration with some officials at the Ministry.

One of the vendors is the Intestate Estate of the Late John Francis Marshall (The Nancy B. Doe Jorpken Town Market) on 9th Street in Sinkor, whose debt payment checks were issued to one Edmund B. Coleman, who is not the right person to collect the money.

The government had purchased a portion of the land from the Banks and Marshall Families and government owed them US$826, 000.00 (eight hundred and twenty six thousand United States dollars): US$300, 000. for the Banks, which the family has confirmed receiving and US$526,000.00 for the Marshall family which is still in limbo.

On February 11, 2016, the government allegedly issued a US$300,000.00 check to Edmund B. Coleman and on May 6, 2017, allegedly issued a US$226, 000.00 its equivalent of L$20,085,000.00 check to Edmund, totaling US$526,000.00.

Edmund Coleman presented a warranty deed to the government before receiving the money, when he is not the owner of the property. The deed is said to be fake because it was issued by Godwin Marshall, Mai Thompson and he (Edmund B. Coleman), when the property belongs to four sisters including Mary Marshall, Anna Marshall, Williette Marshall and Maud Marshall Smith. These four rightful owners have respective deeds in their possession.

In a communication to Finance Minister, Boima S. Kamara, dated October 10, 2016, the Taylor & Associates Law Offices representing the legal interest of the Marshall Family, told the ministry to intervene in the matter, indicating that Edmund B. Coleman had denied receiving money from the government.

Edmund Coleman has reportedly denied also of receiving the second check of US$226, 000.00 equivalent of L$20,085,000.00, at the Monthly and Probate Court. However, photocopies of check bearing his name, his Voter’s Card and ECOWAS Citizen Union-Liberia Chapter ID Card in our possession indicate he received the money.

The transactions started a year following the issuance of “Power of Attorney” on November 18, 2013, to Mr. Jefferson Douglas Coleman as administrator of the property. The family issued the Power of Attorney in the United States.

Despite this power of attorney, the Ministry sent payment authorization, along with the first check of US$300,000.00, bearing the name of Intestate of John F. Marshall/Edmund B. Coleman, dated March 11, 2016, to the Director of Banking at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to be encashed.

As far as Marshall family’s lawyers know, their clients have not received anything from the government since Edmund B. Coleman denies receiving the money and also since he is not the administrator.

On his part, administrator Jefferson Douglas Coleman, in a cell phone conversation with this paper on Wednesday, called on the government to go beyond mere dismissal by bringing to book those who allegedly received the money. He stressed the need to investigate family members who are claiming the property by issuing “fake deeds.”

Meanwhile, Senior Debt Analyst, Madam Patricia P. Dixon, has reiterated her calls for authorities at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to make public a comprehensive report of the entire domestic debt payment level so far if they must prove her wrong. Madam Dixon, who calls herself a “whistle blower” said she will continue to expose the alleged financial impropriety at the ministry until the Liberian people’s money is paid back by those who are responsible.

She considers the MFDP’s press statement issued on Tuesday as a complete admission to her allegations and thus calls for a full scale investigation into the matter and other alleged malpractices at the ministry, adding, “I want those who are stealing the Liberian people’s money to pay back and so I will continue to expose their deeds because my boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told me and any other Liberians to expose corruption.”

Madam Dixon said the blocking of her account to the Commonwealth Secretariat and Debt Recording Management System (CS-DRMS), coupled with the admission by the Ministry as well as threats to transfer her, has reinvigorated her more to battle corruption at the Ministry.

She said the Marshall property is the representation of how the entire debt payment process was being marred by alleged corruption because many vendors are still claiming their money, after payments were done on consolidated list, fragmented list and in face-value forms of the same amounts.

Below is the MFDP’s Press Statement issued Tuesday, May 30,2017, in reactions to our previous two publications:

Communications Unit

Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP)

                             Cell: 0775059916 / 0886518209 Email: abwaritay@mfdp.gov.lr/abwaritay@yahoo.com

 

PRESS STATEMENT

 

MFDP REFUTES AND CLARIFIES IN PROFILE PUBLICATIONS

 

Monrovia – Tuesday May 30, 2017: The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Categorically Refutes the In Profile Daily Newspaper’s Publications of Thursday, May 25, 2017 And Monday, May 29, 2017 With Headlines: “Debt Payment Fraud” And “Finance In Huge Fraud”.

Accordingly, the MFDP informs the public that it is aware of a situation of breach of duty by the Former Director of the Debt Management Unit of the MFDP.  The said breach of duty (failure to follow established financial procedures and instructions from superiors) was reported to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) over four months ago – (January 16, 2017); while the staff involved was forwarded for investigation.

The MOJ concluded its investigation into the reported gross breach of duty by the then head of the Debt Management Unit.  The MOJ investigation established that the head of the Debt Management Unit was in gross violation of financial procedures relative to the payment of claims against the government of Liberia and sections of the Civil Service Regulations .

Consistent with the findings of the Ministry of Justice and in addition to the law pursuant, the MFDP hereby informs the public that it has taken administrative actions by terminating the employment services of said Director with the MFDP.

The MFDP assures the public that the Administration will not tolerate and condone or lend support to any fraudulent act of any of its employees as it has a duty to the Liberian people and the Republic of Liberia to protect the people’s resources.

SIGNED:_________________________________

BERNARD ABRAHAM WARITAY

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATONS

 

Our investigations continue…

MFDP Refutes, Clarifies In Profile’s Publications

 

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has categorically refuted the In Profile Daily Newspaper’s Publications of Thursday, May 25, 2017 and Monday, May 29, 2017 With Headlines: “Debt Payment Fraud” And “Finance In Huge Fraud”.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, MFDP said it is aware of a situation of breach of duty by the Former Director of the Debt Management Unit of the MFDP.  The said breach of duty (failure to follow established financial procedures) was reported to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) over four months ago – (January 16, 2017); while the staff involved was forwarded for investigation.

“The MOJ concluded its investigation into the reported gross breach of duty by the then head of the Debt Management Unit.  The MOJ investigation established that the head of the Debt Management Unit was in gross violation of financial procedures relative to the payment of claims against the government of Liberia,” the statement said.

Consistent with the findings of the Ministry of Justice and in addition to law pursuant, the MFDP disclosed that it has taken administrative actions by terminating the employment services of said Director with the MFDP.

It added: “The MFDP assures the public that the Administration will not tolerate and condone or lend support to any fraudulent act of any of its employees as it has a duty to the Liberian people and the Republic of Liberia to protect the people’s resources.”

The statement was signed by Mr. Bernard Abraham Waritay, MFDP Director Of Communications.

However, the Ministry’s press statement fell short of explaining how money stolen in the alleged scandal will be refunded or who is responsible.

‘We Need Value’ -Women Tell Aspirants

By: Mafanta Kromah

The women of Montserrado County District #14 are admonishing all women politicians and aspirants in the district to be of more value. They said it is not just about putting women in the house but ones that will seek interest of women, the youth and the district at large.

They made the statement over the weekend at Kelbbah Town Hall in Barnesville, stressing their women aspirants to be of more issue-driven and push forth more ideas than money.

Speaking during the citizens engagement event of the Coalition of Political Party Women in Liberia (COPPWIL), Amelia Benson noted that politics is not all about sharing T-Shirts and head caps and also not about money sharing, noting that it is about discussing issues relevant to the growth of the nation.

She indicated that women in politics are faced with lot of challenges but noted they have to be engaged with the people and know that it is not about money but value, which they need the most.

Madam Benson asserted that it is a challenge for everyone, especially in the economic situation which is more challenging, maintaining “the people of Liberia have that ability to change the dynamics.”

Grace Morris, a resident of the district also stressed on the lack of community empowerment and capacity building in their various communities that has resulted in the backwardness of the community.

“We are looking for a leader that is not one sided but religiously tolerant, a leader that believes in God, a leader that will advocate for road in our communities and a leader that will not engage in self-investment but do project with the involvement of the district leaders and youth group,” Madam Morris narrated.

She encouraged these aspirants to have good friendship with their community members and also promote peace among community residents and the district.

Also speaking, Georgia Myers called on political women to “come to us when we call you because money cannot make you win but your relationship and interaction with your people also be close to us and bring value and solution to our communities and district problems.”

Meanwhile, the Acting President of the COPPWIL, Georgia Gage, appreciated the women for sharing their ideas and the way women can reach the house but also affirmed that if they do not help to make women enter the house, there will be no one to seek the interest of women and there will be no law passed in the interest of women.

She said they have heard the views of the District women and will do go back to work on them, in order to reach the demand of the electorates.

Moreover, the citizens’ engagement event is part of the 100% women campaign project supported by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) through NAYMOTE. The first phrase of the project was a one-week women leadership and political participation training held in Gbarnga Bong County.

This initiative is also designed to enable women aspirants who participated in the training to communicate directly with the voters, to persuade their voters to support their campaign and to improve their public speaking skills.

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ECC Ends Policy Dialogue in Eight Counties

By Mafanta Kromah

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has concluded a policy dialogue with representatives of political parties, civil society organizations, local government officials, youth groups and women organizations in Gbarnga, Bong County. The forum brought together more than 60 participants.

An official of the ECC, Eddie Jarwolo, said the policy dialogues are being held in eight counties including Bong, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Nimba, Bomi, Grand Gedeh, Montserrado and Lofa.

Mr. Jarwolo who served as the lead facilitator said the forums are designed to educate the representatives of political parties, CSOs and the media on the importance of the exhibition process to citizens as well as the Corrections, Claims and Objections process.

“Political parties, CSOs and Media need to educate citizens on the importance of the exhibition process and how, who, where and when to file an objection. This is why the ECC is making sure that citizens across the country clearly understand how to conduct civic education on the exhibition process and how to file objections,” Jarwolo told the gathering during the opening.

Jarwolo said the ECC is informing participants that the person who puts forth the challenge during the exhibition period must prove all challenges in person, noting that the determination of objections shall be made by the Magistrate at the Magistrate’s office during the period for determination of objection, which shall be announced and posted at the magistrate office.

He also told participants that objector must appear in person, that the Magistrate will notify the person who is objected, that the burden of proof is on the objector, the person objected must have the chance to refute the evidence provided and if one or both of the parties are not present, the Magistrate upon proof shall proceed with the determination.

He at the same time noted that if the objection is denied, the reasons for the denial must be made known to the objector and recorded. He added that the challenges would be based on the nationality of an applicant not being Liberian, the age of applicant not being the required voting age, the mental health of the applicant not being normal and the applicant being a felon or convict.

He said the ECC also used the forum to share its findings of the Voter Registration observation with the participants.

Jarwolo asserted that the ECC deployed a total of 89 district and county observers during VR process across the country.

“The ECC observed 849 of the 2,080 voter registration centers in the 73 electoral districts in the country and documented our observation report,” Jarwolo said.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has set June 12-17 for exhibition of provisional registration roll in Liberia for the upcoming elections in October. The ECC has promised to observe the entire Exhibition process across the 73 electoral districts focusing on Claims and Objections aspect and encouraged political parties to also observe the process that would raise the standard of transparency and openness of the electoral process.

On their part, participants lauded the ECC for the initiative and vowed to reach out to citizens with the awareness.

Speaking at the closing of the dialogue, the Paramount Chief of Jorquelleh Chiefdom, Mary Larteh thanked the organizers for coming to explain these things to them.

She said “this is what we want, when we ourselves understand these issues like this, we are able to educate our people.”

She encouraged representatives of political parties in particular to explain the importance of the exhibition and objection to their supporters to take advantage of the process.

ECC is providing awareness and opportunity to registered voters and the public to confirm that NEC has correctly recorded information about them as well as providing an opportunity for the public to check the accuracy of the work done by NEC.

The ECC which is one of the largest professional civil society platform monitoring, documenting and reporting all aspects of the electoral process and have deployed over 4000 observers during the 2011 and 2014 elections in Liberia.

Members of the ECC include the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), the Women NGOs Secretariat, the Action for Genuine Democratic Alternative (AGENDA), the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG), Center for Media Studies and Peace Building. Others are Naymote Partners for Democratic Development and the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD).

The work of the ECC is done in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) with support from the United States Agencies for International Development (USAID).

Two Liberians Qualified For Confucius Institute World Competition

Chinese DCM Li presenting gift to first prize winner while UL’s Prof. Geegbae presents gift to second prize winner

 

Two Liberian students: Boakai K. Wilson and Andrew Bonnah, of the Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia (UL) have qualified to participate in the pending Confucius Institute Chinese Proficiency World Competition for Foreign College Students in China.

Wilson and Bonnah were qualified when they won first and second places respectively in the final of the 16th Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students in Liberia, held Saturday, May 27, 2017, on 9th Street in Monrovia.

The competition was hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia (UL).

Ten students participated in the final and the competition had three categories: self-introduction in Chinese; responses to three questions each in Chinese-whether asked in Chinese or English; and Chinese cultural performances-songs, poem recitations, short dramas and Chinese Marshall Art. Fluency and accuracy in Chinese were highly considered.

However, authorities of the Confucius Institute honored and certificated all participants for demonstrating excellence to reach the final of the Liberia’s competition. They also encouraged the students and any other students of the Confucius Institute to continue as many opportunities and brighter future await them.

Other participants in the final were: Michael Maigbay, Norman Mondubue, Isaac J. Dukuly, Rancy E. Bondo, Augustine S. Borbor, Samson W. Dweh, Terry G. Johnson, II, and Silas Gilklay.

Judges of the competition included: Head of the Chinese Medical Team in Liberia, Mr. Yan Yunliang; an assistant to Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) Deputy Director, Mr. Solee; Director General of Chinese International Broadcasting Station at the Liberia Broadcasting System, Mr. Wang Zhanhua and In Profile Daily Editor for News & Editorial Services, Mr. Fredrick P. W. Gaye.

Speaking at the occasion, UL’s Vice President, Prof. Geebgae A. Geebgae, said though two students won the higher scores, performances of the participants were encouraging.

Prof. Geegbae praised the students for the excellent learning and urged them to double their efforts in making Chinese Language part of their life.

He equally commended the Confucius Institute family and Chinese Embassy for organizing such a program, which he said, is intended to improve academic excellence.

The UL official used the occasion to call on other learning institutions in Liberia to follow such an example to inspire the students more if the education system must improve.

Also making remarks, the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to Liberia, Mr. Li Zhuang, thanked the Confucius Institute and the University of Liberia for the contest. “…we highly appreciate the efforts have been made these years for promoting this trans-cultural exchange, by the University of Liberia and its Confucius Institute,” Li said.

According to the Chinese envoy, the contest was a good opportunity to know about China and what is getting on between China and Liberia. China, Li said, is the most populous country with over 1.3 billion people, which is 300 times the population of Liberia. “China is the second largest economy, but its GDP is only ranks about 80th in the world,” he continued.

Li explained that the Chinese Language is an important component of the Chinese 5,000-year culture and has played an important role in the trans-cultural exchanges.

He indicated that China is seeking win-win outcomes/mutual benefit through cooperation with other countries. Li made reference to China’s support to Africa’s development which safeguards and promotes world peace and development, benefiting all countries including China itself.

“As a developing country, China is determined to go together with Liberians and other Africa friends, for a better future to all of us. As we can see, a wide range of cooperation in security, agriculture, education, trade and other areas between China and Liberia has made a rapid progress,” Li maintained, alluding to an African adage that says: If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

He then expressed the belief that participants of the competition will become the friendship ambassadors and personal contributors to common goals.

On his part, first prize winner, Student Boakai K. Wilson, thanked the Confucius Institute family for always being transparent in the competition and other contests at the institute.

He called on his fellow students and any other Liberians to take advantage of the Chinese Language study as it will allow them understand China as well as communicate with more people the world over.

Wilson vowed to make the Liberia’s Confucius Institute proud at the pending World Competition in China by returning with a flying color.

The Confucius Institute’s excellent student said he has spent five years at the institution, saying he was inspired and also challenged himself after watching several Chinese movies.

Meanwhile, Confucius Institute’s acting director, Mr. Dexter Sumo, commended participants and encouraged them to continue the excellent performances.

Sumo said the institute has been sending many Liberians to China to study Chinese; some of whom he said have graduated with masters and other levels and are working at various places.

He said Chinese companies and other enterprises in Liberia have been contacting the Confucius Institute for students who are fluent in Chinese for possible recruitment.

Representatives from other Chinese enterprises graced the occasion.

Finance In “Huge Fraud” -Debt Payment Checks Allegedly Recycled

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) appears to be choked in responding to alleged frauds surrounding the domestic debt payment.

On Thursday, May 25, 2017, we ran a story under the headline: “Debt Payment Fraud – MFDP Official Alleges.”

According to the story, the Senior Debt Analyst in the Domestic Debt Management Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Madam Patricia P. Dixon, alarmed of alleged fraud in the payment process.

Madam Dixon who calls herself a “whistle blower,” had told the In Profile Daily that a consolidated listing was prepared to avoid issuance of fragmented checks to claimants. She further alleged that the fragmented listing that should have been canceled, was also paid after settling the consolidated listing with the same amount.

According to her, the process was carried out when current Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Alvin Attah was Assistant Minister for Debt Management.

Before the Thursday’s story, the Director of MFDP Communication Unit, Abraham Watiray said could to speak to the allegations until he got to those concerned including the Economic Management Department.

As more information continues to emerge, and the Ministry is yet to respond despite efforts being made.

Some of classified documents in our possession indicate that, after disbursing checks to claimants in line with the approved consolidated listing, checks were also paid in fragmented and in different face-value forms with same amounts.

For example, Grace Gbatu was paid in Liberian dollars (L$9,505 CHECK#18173), and the face-value in United States dollars (US$172.80 CHECK#0404114). At the time, government was taking the LD-USD rate at L$55.00-US$1.00.

The LD face-value check was part of the ‘Domestic Arrears Printed Checks’ listing and the same amount check was reissued in the USD face-value. The question is ‘where is the LD check’. This is the representation of dubious payments in the domestic debt settlement, if confirmed.

Madam Dixon has alleged that several payments were made without meeting compliance and the checks are still in the system and being recycled. She also alleged that the following payments were made without compliance. MADENYENN AND SONS TRADING, CORP US$54,285.00 and JONES Y. GBORBEA ESTATE CLAIM, US$54,000.00.

Besides, there are two incidents that unearthed the allegedly huge impropriety. One of the incidents is the New World Printing Press issue.

A check with the of L$58,030.00 (fifty eight thousand and thirty Liberian dollars) and number-021084, in the name of New World Printing Press, was en-cashed at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). The owner of New World Printing Press, Madam Sonie M. Tealeh’s named was allegedly forged by an individual who received the money.

According to Madam Dixon, after New World reported the situation and together with officials concerned discovered the alleged scandal, they (officials) decided to pay the Printing Press on the fragmented check list (the list that was considered invalid after the approval of the consolidated listing). A check with the amount of L$27,240.00 (twenty seven thousand two hundred and forty Liberian dollars), and number-018525, was paid to New World Printing Press, from one of the single checks that had been consolidated.

Another alleged scandal is the debt payment to the Intestate of John F. Marshall (Nancy B. Doe Jakpen Town Market). The payments of two checks were allegedly made to one Edmund B. Coleman on behalf of the family when Edmund is not the administrator of the Estate and family members say they have not received a cent.

One of the checks, with the amount of US$300,000.00 and number-0010675, was issued to Edmund B. Coleman and encashed at the Central Bank of Liberia on March 14, 2016. The money was withdrawn from GOL operations USD account #: 220530000225 based on the Payment Authorization letter from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) on March 11, 2016, to the Director for Banking at the CBL. The letter bears the reference number: 24784/03/’16.

The big question is, why the ministry should have allegedly issued check to Edmund B. Coleman when Power of Attorney, written on November 18, 2013, had given Mr. Jefferson Douglas Coleman the authority to serve as administrator.

Documents in our possession indicate that the Taylor & Associates, Inc., representing the legal interest of the family, said Edmund B. Cole has denied ever receiving money on behalf of the estate.

On October 10, 2016, under the signature of Cllr. Milton D. Taylor, the law firm wrote Finance Minister, Boima S. Kamara to intervene since Edmund denied of receiving the money. But up to present, the family members said their claim has not been settled. If Edmund Cole did not receive anything from the Ministry, where did the money go or who received in the name of Edmund? If it got in the wrong hands, who is responsible? These are the question being asked as the family members continue to engage the government to settle them.

Recently, some of the family members headed by administrator, Jefferson  Coleman, converged with placards at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, to draw the public’s attention to what they described as stealing at the Ministry surrounding the domestic debt and other transactions. “Economic management becomes economic waste,” was one of the statements used on placards.

They also called on the government to respect and protect the Whistleblower Act.

Meanwhile, Senior Debt Analyst, Madam Patricia Dixon has challenged officials at the ministry to make public comprehensive reports of the domestic debt payment to prove her wrong.

When contacted via mobile on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, MFDP Communication Unit Director, Mr Abraham B. Waritay, promised that the Ministry will respond on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, since the issue was just brought to their attention.

Before going first story on Thursday, Mr. Waritay told this paper via mobile phone that the Ministry will address itself to the allegations at the appropriate time after meeting with officials in the concerned department and once the authority is given to speak to the matter. Up to press time, the Ministry remained tight-lipped, as our investigations continue…

 

Debt Payment Fraud -MFDP Official Alleges

Ministry of Finance and Development

Immediately after taking over in 2006, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf constituted an inter-ministerial vetting committee (IVC), with the assistance of international consultancy firms and experts to develop strategies in settling domestic debts government owed under previous regimes.

The committee and its partners did not only vet claims, but also prepared consolidated listing for claimants to receive their checks; and approved by then Finance Minister Antoinette Saye.

But the Senior Debt Analyst in the Domestic Debt Management Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Madam Patricia P. Dixon, has alarmed alleged fraud in the payment process.

Madam Dixon who calls herself a “whistle blower,” told the In Profile Daily that the consolidated listing was prepared to avoid issuance of fragmented checks to claimants. She further alleged that the fragmented listing that should have been canceled, was also paid after settling the consolidated listing with the same amount.

According to her, the process was carried out when current Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Alvin Attah was Assistant Minister for Debt Management.

They did not stop in the allegedly recycled payment. Madam Dixon said the Ministry paid some of the claimants, using the Liberian dollar figures with US dollars.

As a fraud examiner by profession, Madam Dixon said she has and continues to remain vigilant in exposing frauds in the process since she discovered the first irregularities in 2007 when domestic debt payments started.

Based on the advice of international partners, she said a system called Commonwealth Secretariat and Debt Recording Management System (CS-DRMS) was set up to keep records of Liberia’s debt portfolios, where she has been discovering the alleged frauds.

The female whistle blower said she decided to take the issue to the media because all efforts for the Ministry to address her claims have failed and at the same she was being undermined.

Madam Dixon said based on her strong stance against corruption and having raised the issues with officials at the Ministry, she was given a letter of transfer from the department; something she has rejected.

“They are not only attempting to transfer me from the Department where I am assigned to ensure compliance, but they have also blocked my account since I have been seeing frauds they commit,” she said.

According to one of the classified documents from the Ministry, Deputy Minister for Administration, Mrs. Juah K. Feika sent email to Madam Dixon on April 3, 2017, saying: “Dear Patricia, As I indicated to you on last Friday, Minister Attah [Alvin Attah, Deputy Minister for Economic Management] has requested that you be transferred from the Department of Economic Management and to also have your account blocked from the CS-DRMS. Based on the Minister’s request, I have instructed Murphy Socree to have your account blocked from said system. Your transfer will be concluded upon my return. Please therefore take note, govern yourself and take this change in good faith.”

There was no reason given in the Deputy Minister’s communication for Madam Dixon’s transfer.

The Senior Debt Analyst revealed that she has communicated her allegations to integrity institutions including the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

She has also challenged authorities at the Ministry to give the original report in the system CS-DRMS, because she said they are claiming of alterations in the system. The whistle blower said, besides recycling checks, there were lots of dubious payments because the fragmented checks remain in the system.

One of the classified documents in possession of this paper indicates re-issued checks in the debt payment; something Madam Dixon has challenged to provide the original ones.

Madam Dixon said, while she will not rest until the country’s money is paid back, she is calling on the Government, through the Ministry of Justice to ensure her security. “I have also written the Ministry of Justice and the Liberian National Police (LNP) for my security. God comes first; but they should protect me while I continue to bring them out,” she added.

In recent times, Minister Boima Kamara has been sacking some officials at the Ministry for alleged corruption. It beats one’s imagination for such to be going on without action if it is confirmed.

However, observers have it that an investigation might be ongoing to establish the facts.

When contacted via mobile on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, MFDP Communication Unit Director, Mr Abraham B. Waritay, promised that the Ministry will respond on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, since the issue was just brought to their attention.

Before going to press, Mr. Waritay told this paper via mobile phone that the Ministry will address itself to allegations at the appropriate time after meeting with officials in the concerned department and once the authority is given to speak to the matter.

Investigations continue..

Belt And Road Forum Points Clear Way For Future Cooperation: Chinese State Councilor

BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) — Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi said Wednesday the just concluded Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation outlined the roadmap for the success of the Belt and Road Initiative and pointed a clear way for future cooperation.

Yang said in an interview that the forum, which was held in Beijing on Sunday and Monday, clarified an assortment of projects that would be implemented within the framework of the initiative. The forum yielded a list of outcomes, which included 76 consensuses comprising more than 270 detailed results in five key areas, namely policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity.

“The grand blueprint of the Initiative is being converted into a clear roadmap,” said Yang.

Yang said forum was the largest multilateral diplomatic activity that was proposed and held by China since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The forum sent a positive signal for all parties to work together to build a community of shared future, which would be extremely important for China and the world.

Yang said that China did not have selfish motives nor pursue selfish interests, and hosted the forum with an open, inclusive, democratic and transparent attitude.

He said the forum consisted of an opening ceremony, a round-table summit and high-level meetings to ensure all parties had the opportunity to fully take part in the forum.

Yang said he believes the broad and in-depth participation of all parties involved into the initiative will contribute hugely to China and world development.

Twenty-nine foreign heads of state and government attended the forum. Other delegates included officials, entrepreneurs, financiers and media from over 130 countries and regions, which are home to more than two thirds of the world’s population and their combined gross domestic product accounts for 90 percent of the world’s total.