Sime Darby Rationalizes Workforce

The Sime Darby Plantation of Liberia said it  would like to confirm that it is currently rationalising its workforce and undergoing a redundancy exercise due to various economic challenges  to ensure the continuity of its business in Liberia.

A release from the SDPL said the exercise is currently being implemented in stages in full consultation with the affected workers, the workers union and the Ministry of Labour.

The SDPL’s statement has come in the wake of a  press release from the Liberian Ministry of Labour asking Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) regarding its planned redundancy exercise pending.

“The Management of SDPL is in talks with the Ministry of Labour, community representatives and the affected employees. Every effort has been made to ensure that the process follows the laws and regulations of Liberia and this includes the Liberia Decent Work Act 2015 and Collective Bargaining Agreement,” the release noted.

According to the release, in recent years, SDPL’s business has faced several constraints that have prevented the business from growing as planned, adding, “The main factors have been land issues and also the Ebola outbreak. However, regardless of these issues, SDPL has continued to employ workers greatly beyond its requirement for current operations. In order for the company to move forward, it needs to rationalise the current workforce.  At the same time a new state of the art mill has recently been constructed in Bomi with new jobs and opportunities created as a result of this and other new developments.”

The company said it is in Liberia for the long run and will work within the confines of best business practices to ensure its sustainable presence in the country. “To-date, SDPL has planted over 10,000 hectares of oil palm and more than 100 hectares of rubber. It provides the highest-paid jobs in the agricultural sector to around 2,800 Liberians. As part of its commitment to improving living conditions of the surrounding communities, SDPL has been providing free access to education, health services, water and sanitation and other community services to over 30,000 local residents,” the release indicated

Commerce To Launch MSME Annual Conference

By: MafantaKromah

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with it partners will launch the 2017 Micro Small and Medium Enterprise also called MSME during the Small Business Administration week with US$ 20,000 in prizes for Information Communication and Technology (ICT), E+ Business Plan Competition with US$ 100,000 in grants and the Liberian Marketplace Trade Fair.

Speaking during a press conference Thursday at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism in Monrovia, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel Addy noted the SBA week will commence with several activities, adding that with the annual tradition of the conference, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will do the opening of the program on November 25, 2017 at the top of the Nancy Doe Trade Fair Marketplace on 8th Street, Sinkor..

He said this year’s conference will be held under the theme: “From Vision to Implementation, buying Liberian, and Building Liberia” with special focus on “Promoting Information and Communication Technology in Liberia”.

Addy indicated that every year the conference has had a specific focus, stressing that last year conference was centered around women entrepreneurship, while  2015 focused on Youth Innovation for Economic Empowerment.

He said this year’s conference also seek to provide opportunities for capacity building, providing exhibition, networking with investors, partners and clients and business linkage events with the business competition.

“The conference also provides chance for innovates Liberian ICT professionals and aspires entrepreneurs to win US$ 20,000 prizes through a business competition in which applicants showcase their solution that helps solve community and business problems, four pries of US$ 5,000 each will be awarded in the agriculture, E-commerce, Education and e-Government,” he indicated.

He said the annual MSME conference is the flagship of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Small Business Administration that takes place every year, noting that this year’s conference takes place in collaboration with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. He said hosting partners includes Orange Liberia, Mercy Crop, Embassy of Sweden, and United States Agent for International Development and Government of Japan.

The Commerce Minister encouraged entrepreneurs to participate in the MSME conference as an ICT innovator for those in the information, communication, technology sector and also those out of ICT can also apply as non-ICT exhibitor by visiting the website www.sbaliberia.org.

Addy extended thanks and appreciation to SMART Liberia, Blue Crest University, CEMENCO, the National Port Authority, among others for their sponsorship for this year’s conference.

Liberia Stalemate Continues

As Liberia’s democratic process faces hiccup characterized by election disputes, politicians who are pressing forward to see the end of their legal battle continue to come under sharp criticisms that they are holding the country hostage, but those accused say they are seeking legal redress for the good of the country.

Liberians who want to see an immediate end to the stalemate say those pursuing the alleged election frauds and irregularities are doing so due to greed but others who support the legal battle say the rule of law needs to be respected to right the wrought.

“ We know the law, we know our right. Our area is law and we will use it to the best of our ability until we have exhausted every aspect of it,” a partisan of the Liberty Party told those who were in a heated argument at an entertainment center in Paynesville recently said.

Cllr. Charles Brumskine, the Standard Bearer of the LP, who is the lead plaintiff in the election fraud and irregularity case filed by the party at the National Elections Commission, is on record when he said at a press conference following the Supreme Court’s ruling  which granted a prohibition  in favor of the LP recently, that they had just begun the legal battle with the NEC.

The Liberty Party, Unity Party and other aggrieved political parties and their supporters are being suspected of applying delay tactics to drag the case at NEC until the tenure of the ruling Unity Party expires in January 2018 so that some sort of arrangement can be reached to replace the current government, but the accused have constantly refuted the suspicion, clarifying that they want to set a precedent through the rule of law.

At the same time, attempts have been made by Liberians to persuade Cllr. Brumskine to disengage the legal battle over the 2017 election dispute, but he has reportedly insisted that the law needs to take its course.

“ We only came here to ask him in the name of peace to forget about this court issue so that the country can get back on its feet because right now we are suffering. Things are getting more expensive on the market every day, and the US rate can’t stop going up. We are not politicians, we are mothers who are worried about our children’ future,” a group of women who reportedly went to meet Cllr. Brumskine in Monrovia were quoted as saying.

Like many Liberians, the EU, ECOWAS, US Embassy and the United Nations have expressed concerns over the stalemate, encouraging Liberian stakeholders, politicians and political parties to ensure that Liberia does not plunge into constitutional crisis.

 

 

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As Commercial Banks Run Out Of Liberian Dollars: CBL Broke? “We saw this problem far ahead that we would not buy in US because it is nowhere to be found, neither would we buy in Liberian dollars because the rate is too high and so we are just turning around here and there.”

Commercial banks in Liberia are reportedly running out of Liberian dollars as  customers are  being  turned away  whenever they  go to withdraw from the banks.

The news of scarcity of Liberian dollars   at commercial banks has surfaced in the midst of two containers of unspecified amount of bank notes being shaped into the country reportedly   by the Central Bank of Liberia for reasons yet to be known.

At the moment, Liberia is experiencing heightened inflation following the printing  of new banknotes by the CBL in  2016 which sound economists  suspected would create  inflation  and undermine the nation’s economy.

Economists are also tying the situation to bad economic policy put in place by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led government wherein the economy  is  predominantly  controlled by foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

It is also alleged that capital flight is at an all time high due to foreign business people and senior government officials shaping millions of dollars out of the country and at the same time changing the Liberian note at the highest rate.

While this deteriorating economic situation is currently unfolding in Liberia, the CBL is reportedly facing a capacity bottleneck due to its inability to maintain allof its staff in employment at this time.

“ We experienced this level of inflation in the past when the interim government headed by Dr. Amos C. Sawyer printed new Liberian banknotes during the civil war but did not have the kind of value they thought the money would have on the market,”  one economist told the In Profile Daily in Monrovia on Thursday, November 23, 2017.

At the same time, Liberian traders and business people continue to complain since the printing of the new banknotes that the rate has been climbing rather than coming down.  “We saw this problem far ahead that we would not buy in US because it is nowhere to be found, neither would we buy in Liberian dollars because the rate is too high and so we are just turning around here and there,”  a frustrated  trader noted.

 

Phase One Textbooks’ Distribution Completed?

By: Precious Gaye/0886539331/ pgaye2042@gmail.com

The Ministry of Education said it has completed the first phase of distribution of textbooks and school materials to some public schools in the country.

Though the process started in mid June and ended in July, some schools did not receive materials, Deputy Project Coordinator of the Global Partner for Education Project at the Ministry of Education, Joe Gbasakollie said: “When we did the assessment for the distribution, there were so many schools listed but due to the rain, we could not reach some schools. We have strategized that the CEOs and DEOs sign for books because it’s our primary goal for the students to receive the books.”

It is not yet known how many schools benefited, but Gbasakollie added: “We are doing a comprehensive report that will be concluded this week on all the schools that were served; [institutions] that were not reached. When we get that, we will tell you the total number of schools.”

 Another reason that contributed to the unfinished process, Gbasakollie disclosed:  “We used the enrollment data gotten from the Ministry done in 2011-2012 for the distribution; we understand that some schools came into existence following that survey. The {pieces of}information need to be validated by CEOs and DEOs for such schools to form part of the distribution.”

With more than two hundred members of the distribution team, including County Educational Officers (CEO) and District Education Officers (DEO) to curtail irregularities, Gbasakollie stressed: “We did a school- to- school delivery unlike the methods used in the past in which we experienced shortfalls.”

There may be a second phase of textbooks distribution as Gbasakollie noted: “We still have textbooks, readers in excess at Ministry of Education warehouses around the city.”

 In June 2015,  Gbasakollie  said “1,000,000  textbooks for grades 5-9 for the four core subjects, English, Math, Science, Social Studies with 20,000 teachers guides, supplementary readers for grades1-4, and instructional materials  for pupils in grade 1-9,   have been procured and stored at counties’ capitals to be distributed simultaneously nationwide.” 

He further noted: “We are planning to dispatch a team by the 17  of this month; the distribution team is comprising  over 200 staff of the ministry’s central office, including 15 County Education Officers (CEO), 98 District Education Officers (DEO), and 5 professional staff  from each  county. “ 

 The project is funded by the Global Partnership for Education, (GPE) and managed by the World Bank, while the implementing arm of the government is the Ministry of Education.