President Sirleaf Dedicates LACE-implemented Projects

Pres. Sirleaf cutting ribbon to the building 

The Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), has been featuring prominently in projects dedication and inspection by the Liberian Leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as she crisscrosses the Country district-by-district, appreciating citizens for supporting her two terms as President.

 

President Sirleaf has nicknamed her final tour of the Country as the ‘Last Mile’. Accompanying the President on these tours are development arms of the government in close consultation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

 

The Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment, which is implementing some basic infrastructural development projects of the Government, mainly the Legislative Support Project (LSP), has been in the limelight of the President’s tour.

 

In all 73 electoral Districts of the Country, LACE is implementing GOL Legislative Support Projects being facilitated by Senators and Representatives in the 53rd Legislature who play some key roles in project needs identification in consultation with their constituents.

 

On the latest leg of her ‘Last Mile’ appreciation tour of Lofa, Rivercess and Grand Bassa Counties, President Sirleaf dedicated and inspected a number of LACE-implemented projects. In Lofa, President Sirleaf cut ribbon to and dedicated the Sorlumba Market Building, Vezala Police Station and inspected ongoing construction works on the Dormitory to the Lofa County Community College.

 

According to structural design, each of the Dorms has a capacity to accommodate 32 students desirous of attaining higher education at the LCCC from the seven districts of Lofa County.

 

Finishing works are being carried out on the Foya Health Center, and Foya Youth Center projects under LACE’s implementation.

 

In Rivercess, LACE has completed the construction of a modern Women Center in Cestos. Also in the Capital of the County, the Agency has commenced construction work on a modern High School, and in Yarkpah Town a Youth Center project has met full completion.

 

In Grand Bassa, President Sirleaf cut ribbon to Gio Town Market fitted with Latrine and Water facilities as well as storage for goods, and later moved over to Compound #2 Youth Center where she also cut the ribbon to open the facility to public usage.

 

En route to Compound #2 where she held a Town Hall meeting with citizens before dedicating the Youth Center, the President cut ribbon to Buchanan City’s first modern Car Wash, and a Sports Academy, another historic infrastructure in the existence of Grand Bassa County.

 

All of these projects outlined are being implemented by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) through Government’s budgetary allocation. Using updated PPCC regulations, the Agency vets accredited construction companies to sub-implement the Legislative Support Project.

 

The projects range from Markets to other public buildings including Magisterial Courts, Clinics, Schools, Commissioner’s Compounds, Presidential Palace, Nurses Quarters, Conference Halls, Youth Centers, Dormitories and Auditoriums.

 

Also included is the construction of Roads, Bridges, Culverts, WASH compact, Fencing of Football Fields and capacitating existing structures with needed equipment for functional operation.

 

The Legislative Support Project is allowing for smoother coordination and collaboration between the Legislative branch of government and the Executive, mainly the Office of the President in achieving the shared single goal of community empowerment through the provision of basic social services.

 

Linking Towns and Villages by constructing roads thus promoting unity and food security, and the provision of other basic social services are shared goals of both the Legislative and Executive branches of the government.

 

The Executive Director of LACE, Julius K. Sele, has led strategic delegations of the Agency to all project locations of the President’s tour. Through direct interaction with her, she expressed joyous impression in the quality she said can be clearly seen in the projects LACE is implementing on behalf of the government.

Civil Society Organizations Push for Referendum

By Mafanta Kromah

 

The Civil Society Coalition held a “multi-stakeholders dialogue” on June 2, 2017 in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County with Law Reform Commission and a cross section of Liberian Senate. The group is working to promote Nationwide Consultations on the Constitutional Review process with the intends to encourage an accelerated action on a joint resolution leading to the referendum bill by the National Legislature.

The dialogue was climaxed by critical review and procedural discussions on the propositions pending before the House of Senate and propounding possible steps for a Constitutional referendum bill within 2017 by the National Legislature.

The dialogue brought together 15 Senators, two Supreme Court Justices (Cllr. Philip A.Z. Banks and Cllr. Kabineh M. Ja’neh) and the leadership of the Law Reform Commission, the Grand Bassa County Superintendent, and the Leadership of Civil Society Organizations on the Constitutional Reform, and local authorities of Grand Bassa County.

Speaking during the discussion, Justice Philip A. Z. Banks, made presentation on the topic: “Towards a Constitutional Amendment.  Justice Banks’ presentation inspired and motivated the Senators who promised to take timely action toward reviewing, discussing and working to get a Referendum Bill considering that they have better clarity to work toward amending the Liberia Constitution.

For his part, Cllr. Boakai N. Kanneh, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, presented on proposals for Amendment, his presentation layout on the entire 24 recommendations from the Constitution Review Committee report with statistics on what were voted or and against during the national conference to assist the Senators deepen their understanding of what were the issues discussed around the country.

Some Senators who gave reasons for the delay in discussing the constitutional propositions, indicated that the delays were due to procedural error earlier observed from the Executive Branch, but based on the precision from the presentations made by constitution lawyers including Justice Banks and Cllr. Kanneh, provided the technical basis to precede discussions to amend the Liberian Constitution.

Following the presentations, the discussion session prompted series of questions and answers, which provided many Senators the opportunity to engage Justice Banks for clarity noting “we are now fully being prepared and equipped to move ahead in reviewing, discussing and presenting a referendum bill for the Liberian voters to decide,” one Senator said.

In addition, Grand Bassa County first female Senator, Yornblee Karngar-Lawrence, assured that a joint committee meeting with both the Houses of Senate and Representatives could be possible to review and discuss the propositions in which a report will be provided to the plenary for action.

On his part, Nimba County Senator Thomas S. Grupee, who is the Chairman on the Internal Affairs, Good Governance and Reconciliation said the Liberian Senate will review and discuss all 24 recommendations which derived from the Gbarnga national Conference and make a decision through a report to plenary to resolve on a possible referendum bill and indicated that the senate could probably add new issues that will improve governance in Liberia.

Meanwhile, Grand Bassa County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif, who is the Chairperson on the Committee on Executive, pledged to work with her colleagues to promote the process that will lead to a national constitution referendum that is overdue since 2015. “This will ensure that the Liberian citizens will have their voices heard through voting for or against final propositions,” she indicated.

The Constitution of Liberia is the supreme law of the Republic of Liberia. The current constitution, which came into force on January 6, 1986, replaced the Liberian Constitution of 1847, under a Military Regime, which had been in force since the independence of Liberia.

Liberian people desire a new and better constitution after 170 years of independence and on August 13, 2015, the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf submitted the final Constitution Review recommendations to the Legislature through the President Pro-Tempore to be studied for possible legislative action that could constitute propositions for amendment through a national referendum. This process is still pending at the Liberian Senate.

This initiative is being undertaken by the the concerned Civil Society Organizations including (NAYMOTE, PMU, LDMI, IREDD and SAIL) supported by the United Nation Development Program in Liberia.

The five CSOs however recommended  the Law Reform Commission timely expedite to give all legal support to the House of Senate and the necessary documentation that will assist in reviewing, discussing and making decision for a National referendum bill leading to referendum.

That the Committee on Internal Affairs, Good Governance and Reconciliation as well as the Committee on Judiciary at the Liberian Senate, takes leadership actions in reviewing, discussing, reporting to the plenary for onward introduction on the floor for deliberations based on the presentations and lesson learned from Constitutional Lawyers including Justice Philip Z.A. Banks and Cllr. Boakai N. Kanneh, Chairperson, Law Reform Commission during the dialogue.

They also requested that the Law Reform Commission and Civil Society Organizations continue working with the House of Senate and House of Representatives to pass a Bill of Referendum prior to their annual agriculture break in 2017.

Meanwhile, Eddie D. Jarwolo, member of the CSO organizations said, amendment of the Constitution through a referendum will contribute meaningfully in addressing some of the governance challenges facing the country including dual citizenship, reduction of tenure of elected public officials, decentralization, and the elections of local leaders.

The five CSO Coalition on Constitutional Reform commended the Law Enforcement commission, the Liberian Senate and Lawyers for honoring the initiative.

They affirmed that they are optimistic that based on the presentations by Justice Philip Banks and Cllr. Boakai N. Kanneh, Chairperson, Law Reform Commission, the Senators will take needed responsible leadership role in formulating propositions for a national constitution referendum based on the current reality and would manage with the procedures error that was done realizing that since 1847 Liberians have never participate in any constitution reform process, this is therefore an opportunity that should not be missed

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.

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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..

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Liberia-China Friendship Organization Urges Liberians To Elect Leaders That Will Protect One-China Policy

The Liberia-China Friendship Organization (LICFO) is calling on Liberian voters to participate in the electoral process to elect individuals who will support and uphold the One-China Policy.

“You get the politicians you warrant if you don’t vote right by accessing the candidates who will reflect the interest of the nation and the aspirations of its people. Politicians can help guide policy, and so we need politicians who will guide and protect the One China Policy,” LICFO said in a press release issued on Monday.

According to the organization, the One China Policy is the firm foundation of the Liberia-China relations. As a result of that relations, Liberians have immensely benefited and still benefiting from the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China.

It named some of the benefits Liberia is enjoying from the relations include the reconstruction of the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex after the civil war and its current renovation, the construction of the Ministry of Health and the University of Liberia Fendell Campus as well as the ongoing construction of the Ministerial Complex and the Annexes of Capitol Building, among others.

LICFO then urged Liberians to vote for those who intend to guide and protect the One-China Policy not only because Liberia has benefited and still benefiting from the Liberia-China relations, but also China is a member of the Security Council; the Council that decides the fate of any nation on planet earth. “It is good to elect those who go with us in the same direction,” LICFO added.

LICFO’s statement comes amid reports of political elements who want to sway Liberia back to the renegade province of Taiwan when they gain state power. The organization pointed out that their action, is intended to enrich themselves, because Taiwan authorities know ‘checkbook diplomacy’ very well. “They want to use your votes, get to power and deny your infrastructural developments that the People’s Republic of China is currently providing,” the group maintained.

Meanwhile, LICFO has stressed the need to elect people who represent developmental ambition that will truly lift Liberia.

 

 

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US Style: Discussions! Political “Interference?”

Uneasy suspicion has brewed over the closed door discussion initiated by the United States Embassy near Monrovia with expected Presidential aspirants ahead of the coveted October 10, 2017 Presidential and representative elections.

An official statement from the United States Embassy posted over the weekend detailed its directive that presidential aspirants wishing to engage with diplomatic mission will be done in “Closed-Door void of media presence.

Accordingly, the Liberian News Agency (LINA) report quoted a release from the Embassy as stating that the first dialogue took place Friday May 5, 2017 with the appearance of little known Cllr. Dr. Jallah Barbu of the New Liberian Party (NLP) as debutant guest.

“The U.S Embassy will continue these dialogues in the weeks that follow in order to better understand the platforms, priorities and philosophies of the aspirants. The U. S Embassy said in a statement that it hopes Liberia holds a successful election that is free, fair, open and peaceful,” said the Embassy.

However, regrettably, the U. S Embassy emphatically directed that the US officials meeting with political aspirants will be restricted to the media, which has raised eyebrows among some presidential aspirants and voters over the expressed intent of the world’s super as the October 10, 2017 elections draws nearer.

The ongoing meeting comes against heighten heels of suspicion among some self-styled Liberian politicians that previous elections held in country were reportedly influenced by Washington through the influence of the US Embassy in Monrovia.

“We applaud the expressed objectives of the US-Presidential aspirants closed-door initiatives aimed at wishing free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections, but we baffled that election discussions bordering on these objectives should not be held at closed-door, it creates suspicion” said Francis Natoe, a self-styled political observer.

 Activist Natoe said the closed-door discussion undertaken by the US Embassy with Presidential aspirants has undoubtedly sparked-off alleged discussions at popular social entertainment places that the former colonial masters often choose Liberia’s Presidents at their detriment.

Like activist Natoe, renowned Liberian Economist Samuel P. Jackson also noted that the United States of America has supported Liberia for nearly 200 years, but said that support has unwittingly led to the creation of a political class that misruled the country.

“For 133 years from 1847, the political class was mostly of repatriated American slaves and their descendants, known as Americo-Liberians, but since 1980 with the overthrow of the Americo Liberian oligarchy by a group of enlisted soldiers under Master Sergeant Samuel K.  Doe, the reemergence of the political elite is no longer based upon tribe or ethnicity, yet the consequences are the same with a small band of greedy bureaucrats bleeding a desperately poor country,” said Economist Jackson.

Unfortunately, pundits have stated that with the US seemingly supporting the political configuration in Liberia, it makes a weakened opposition even weaker and timid thus undermining the creation of a vibrant democratic society that can checkmate the excesses of the country’s ruling elite.

With over 200 years of US engagement with Liberia, political analysts have surmised that much of its support seemed well-intentioned and in fact has been the umbilical cord sustaining the nation-hood of the country.

However, some Liberians believed that US support has always been characterized by biasness towards the country’s ruling class and political elite, unintentionally expanded economic inequality and solidified social chasms.

Debated with curiosity, some Liberians interview have opined that with centuries after America began its support to Liberia, the country’s political economy is still characterized by patronage, cronyism and opportunism, all designed to enrich a few at the expense of the hapless majority.

Notably, Liberian political leaders always shuttle between Washington and Monrovia with the conviction that once sanctioned by the US, the political deal is done without many hitches.

However, with less than 10% of the Liberian population, Americo-Liberians have dominated the national politics from the founding of the colony until slain Samuel Doe led a military coup in 1980; however the debate of how Americo-Liberians held onto power for protracted period has once again surface and dominating the 2017 political discussion.

Some natives have attributed the long serving tenure of Americo-Liberian to divisions based on “light-skin vs. dark skin”, particularly because the first president was of mixed race, as were several immigrants, reflecting the nature of African-American society in dominance.

It is believed that the discussion initiated by the US will be welcomed, but with uttermost recap of the country’s political event. Reports T. Michael Johnny 0775820581