‘I Will Not Entertain Gossip’ -Mayor-designate Koijee Warns MCC Workers

By: Abraham Morris-231886294820-abrahammorrisabrahammorris@gmail.com

The Mayor-designate of the city of Monrovia and CDC Youth League Chairman, Jefferson Koijee, during a formal welcoming ceremony upon his ascendency as Mayor-designate, warned employees of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) that he will not entertain gossip but rather encourage a collaborative spirit to enhance the MCC.

Speaking Friday, during programs marking his official welcoming ceremony by employees of the MCC, Koijee said he’s new on the job and would not pretend to be a Mayor; therefore, he would count on the expertise of the staff of that corporation to enhance the corporation and further develop Monrovia.

Koijee thanked everyone for gracing the occasion especially their donor, City Alliance International. He also thanked President George M. Weah for his preferment and fortitude to ensuring that the lives of ordinary Liberians are lifted.

Mayor-designate Koijee assured the MCC employees that despite their political affiliation during the recent elections, he’s not taking over to take away their jobs, but rather worked with them to ensuring that the aims and aspiration of President Weah’s pro-poor policy is achieved.

Koijee urged all resident of the city of Monrovia to cooperate with the MCC to ensure that Monrovia becomes a wholesome functioning city. He noted that he is open to learning in order to make sure Monrovia is advanced developmentally.

According to him, his priorities is not to take away jobs butt work with donors to ensure that even more jobs are created, because if the poor people cannot succeed under President Weah’s administration there will be a reversal of democracy.

“If democracy is something that changes the lives of people, then under Weah led-administration, depending on everyone’s collective support to the government, everyone will experience the true essence of democracy,” Koijee noted.

Speaking earlier, the Representative of the MCC workers union, Eric Doe, pledged his union’s fullest cooperation in working with the new city Mayor-designate to ensuring Monrovia is on par with other cities in the world.

Doe described Koijee as a partner owing to his youthful age. He also thanked the outgoing Mayor for her services rendered the corporation over the years.

Also speaking, the Minister of Internal Affairs-designate, Varney Sirleaf, promised to closely collaborate with Mayor-designate Koijee in order to improve and develop Monrovia.

GAC Hits Back At Kings’ FM Talk Show Host

The General Auditing Commission (GAC) said its attention has been drawn to a tirade of allegations made against Auditor General Yusador Gaye on King’s FM Radio flagship Talk Show “Liberian Talk” on Tuesday, January 30, Wednesday January 31 and Thursday, February 1, 2018.
The GAC said it wants the public to know that the allegations made by the King’s FM Liberian Talk Host Robert Haynes are well planned conspiratorial attempts to willfully castigate and defame the character of its reputed Auditor General for political gains of his sponsors.
The GAC noted that claim by Mr. Haynes that Madam Gaye connived with the Printer of the GAC Act of 2014 at the Foreign Ministry to tamper with the Legislative Approved tenure of four years for the service of the Auditor General to seven years is untrue. “This claim is simply a bold face lie,” a GAC release said.
Setting the record straight, the GAC provided the following pieces of information:
“GAC Act of 2014 Chapter 2.1.5: The Auditor General is appointed for a one term of 7 (seven) years. The process of writing the GAC Act started 2009 and ended 2013. The Act was written with the support of the European Union who sent two legal experts to the GAC at different times. The Act was benchmarked against other Supreme Audit Institutions in English speaking Africa to ensure best practice.”
The Commission also termed as erroneous and wicked, claims that the Auditor General has been siphoning fees charged by the GAC to conduct audits of SOEs and Commissions in accordance with the GAC Act and the Public Financial Management Act of 2009.
The Commission further clarified that all funds paid the GAC by Commissions, SOEs and Donors are strictly paid out in the name of the GAC and such funds are duly accounted for.
The GAC also wants to make it emphatically clear that never did the RIA pay the GAC $600,000 for its audit or NPA $350,000 and the JFK $50,000 as claimed by the Kings FM Talk Show host Robert Haynes. “These claims have no iota of truth in fact and substance- a rudimentary principle each journalist must adhere to at all times when performing their reportorial duties,” the release said.

TRANSCO CLSG, Sierra Leone Gov’t To Launch RAP

To give way for the construction of a 1300km transmission line from Cote d’Ivoire into Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, TRANSCO CLSG, in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone will formally launch the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) to settle families, who are within the corridor of the project.

The symbolic launch of RAP for Project Affected Persons (PAPs) within Lot 2 from Kono to Bumbuna, was held in Makeni, Sierra Leone on February 1st, 2018.

More than 400 households are affected by the construction of the transmission line and substation in Sierra Leone and they will be compensated through a transparent compensation process.

Similar activities will be carried out in other CLSG countries. Following the RAP process, TRANSCO CLSG management will acquire the sites and turn them over to the contractors who are in line to jumpstart physical construction activities of 1300km transmission line and substations across the CLSG.

TRANSCO CLSG, which is implementing the CLSG electricity project, interlinking Cote d’Ivoire with Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has already conducted information campaigns across the CLSG to sensitize communities on the resettlement process.

TRANSCO CLSG, in collaboration with the Governments of the CLSG, is responsible for the implementation and coordination of the resettlement program. All the PAPs have been identified within the Transmission Line corridor.

Prior to the implementation of the RAP, all assets in the right of way were assessed and asset inventory established.

Meanwhile, donors of the CLSG project including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the KfW the German Development Bank; have reaffirmed their unwavering support to the successful implementation of the CLSG project. “We are at the point of no-return,” one of the donors declared during the just ended two-day annual donor’s coordination meeting in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

 

 

Shoniyin Rubbishes Japanese Grants Report

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister-designate, Mr. Elias Shoniyin has sharply reacted to media reports linking him to the misuse of the much publicized ‘Japanese Grants’ in the amount of US$731,412.00.

The amount was given to the Liberian Government in 2014 for the sole purpose of building the country’s institutional capacity of the Department of International Economic Cooperation and Integration (IECI) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As the news of Minister Shoniyin’s involvement in the misapplication of the funds overwhelmed Liberians from all sectors, journalists have been contacting him as to what really took place during the activities of the Committee which was given the responsibility to expand the grant.

Shoniyin  said he was exonerated for any wrong doing by these anti-graft institutions, displaying several documents, including recommendations from the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the General Auditing Commission.

The amount of  USD $731,412.00 was provided for a two-year project on the capacity building project. According to information in June 2014, half of the money was transferred from Central Bank to Afriland Bank under the watchful eyes  of Thomas Kaydor and Augustine Nyanplu.

Several reports on the Japanese fund at the Foreign Ministry were reviewed including the report of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Accounts, Expenditure and Audit; report of the Ministry of Justice; and the audit report of the General Auditing Commission (GAC). None of these reports points to any financial crime attributed to the action of Mr. Shoniyin. In fact, the GAC report listed all questionable transactions of the projects and the names of the persons who authorized the transactions and the payee, and Mr. Shoniyin name is not mentioned anywhere on the list.

This revelation triggers very disturbing questions, particularly after the widespread allegations against Mr. Shoniyin. What were the real motivations behind these allegations? Were there ulterior motives to blackmail? As journalists dug deeper into relevant documentations around this saga, these answers may be found and the truth brought to light.

He explained that the primary purpose of the project was to hire, retain and train professional staff with the necessary skills to increase efficiency within the IECI Department, and noted that 50% of the project goal was achieved, and further disclosed that Thomas Kaydor, a short-term former Deputy Minister for IECI Department and Augustine Nyanplu, Manager of the project were in charge of the management of the fund, and denied of being a part of its misapplication.

Minister Shoniyin bank slips were displayed to our reporter, it was further observed that bulk of the withdrawals were made by both Kaydor and Nyanplu without the knowledge of him (Shoniyin), this was also made known by one of the committees that the amount of L$21,394,360 was disbursed without adequate supporting documents to substantiate the integrity of the transactions.

Speaking further, Minister Shoniyin publicly denied any involvement in the syndicate to dupe the Liberian Government, and noted that all of the probes that were conducted by both the GAC and the Ministry of Justice cleared him of any wrongdoing in the process of the disbursement   of the grant, with one of the committees which investigated the issue noted, “Minister Shoniyin failed to put in place a monitoring and supervisory mechanism to ensure to effective implementation of the project consistent with best administrative practices.”

For Thomas Kaydor, the Committee said, “Hon. Thomas Kaydor was also grossly negligent. While it is true that he developed guidelines for the implementation of the project when he took over, he failed to have the provision thereof fully implemented especially as it relates to the usage of the Ministry Internal Control Processors. Through his lack of supervision, Mr. Nyanplu continued to engage in further fraudulent transactions which brought a loss to the project. He ignored red flag in the project such as the bounced checks which if investigated promptly could have prevented further loss, he also failed to put in place a monitoring and supervisory mechanism to ensure the effective implementation of the project consistent with best administrative practices after he took over.”

On the role of Augustine Nyanplu in the scandal, the Committee in its findings said, “Mr. Nyanplu’s conduct in the management of the project, as Project Manager, is beyond redemption. His conduct according to the audit report resulted in the theft of LD$19,079,815.00 or US$227,140.65. He also engaged in criminal acts including forged letters to the bank requesting for overdraft facilities. There being no evidence that he acted in collusion with others at the Ministry, he bears criminal responsibility for the fraud.”

With these findings, Minister Shoniyin during the interview bragged that his hands are clean, a situation he said made President George Weah to appoint him as Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “If I was guilty of such, I don’t think President Weah would have named me in his government,” Minister Shoniyin stated.

 

 

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Rep. Smith Heads National Defense Committee

The Speaker of the 54th National Legislature, Dr. Bhofal Chambers has named Representative Jimmy W. Smith of District #2,  Monsterrado County, as Chairman on the National Defense Committee in the Lower House.

The new Defense Committee Chairman is a staunch executive member of the Coalition for Democratic Congress (CDC) of President George Manneh Weah.

House Speaker Chambers said individuals appointed to various committees in the Lower House  possess high degree of good moral conduct and he has confidence in their integrity to steer the affairs of their respective committees as Chairpersons and the memberships.

As a statutory committee within the leadership of the Lower House,  the Defense Committee has a constructional mandate to amongst other things help to strategize appropriate mechanisms working with relevant authorities and security institution of government to train, recruit and supervise the activities of the country’s defense system in terms of protecting lives and properties within the territorial confines of Liberia.

It has an oversight responsibility to liaise with and collaborate with appropriate national defense actors to assist in designing strategies for the training of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Coast Guard to protest the nation’s coastal lines from any security threats.

Speaking briefly to reporters following his appointment, Rep. Smith assured members of the Lower House of his readiness to chair such a strategic committee, noting, “With the cooperation of my committee’s members, we will make a difference for our people.”

Rep. Smith comes to the position with a wealth of experience backed by his academic and professional expertise and credentials. He holds a degree in security science and did much study in policing in both United States and Liberia.

‘MLS Study Abroad’ Launched -As 63 African Students Benefit

By Mafanta Kromah

The Mohammed Lassana Sanoe (MLS) Study Abroad has launched its company in Liberia after helping over 63 African students go China for study in various fields at 23 different universities.

Speaking at the launching program on Wednesday January 31, 2018 at the YMCA conference hall on Crown Hill Monrovia, the CEO of the company Mohammed L. Sanoe noted that his idea came after he got the opportunity to study and decided to give back to his country and the continent through the MLS Study Abroad program.

Before he started sending people, Sanoe said there was issue of trust and he decided to use his mother stand for him so people will believe what he is saying and that his dream to help young African could be achieved

The CEO also said his own mother did not believe him during the start until when he helped send two young Liberians to China for studies.

“That was when my mother decided to take the bon and because of that we have helped 63 African students go China for further education, 80 percent of whom are Liberians,” he indicated.

He explained that his company was only registered in China but decided to legalize it in his own home Liberia, saying, “Today marks the official and grand launch of our company.”

Sanoe said their major challenge was getting people to trust someone they don’t see or know but said they manage to overcome that challenge and today they are at the point where there are some that have gotten their admission, some visa and others waiting on the results.

He said the process of getting the scholarship is merit based which requires a person to be an “A” or a “B” student. “We are working with 23 universities in China both government and private universities, these universities have scholarship slots for students and our company engaged them and students buy these slots and go for their studies but the scholarship also includes benefit such as allowance per month, accommodations and other scholarship benefits,” he said.

He maintained that the higher a person paid for the scholarship is US$4,500 for the 4 years of studies, which he said include visa, flight, slot and other fees within that time.

However, Sanoe explained that on many occasions his company has tried to get the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education to intervene and see how they all help the young people get a better and quality education, stressing that they were not able to get their intervention.

He narrated that his company is not in the position now to help students go free on the scholarship but hopes with time his company will get the necessary funding to help smart students further their education abroad and get the knowledge and experience required and give back to their society.

He concluded that the benefit of his company in the process is that his company is awarded the last person slot money upon bringing in several persons. “For example if we brought 10 persons in one university, the one making it 11 is ours and it is left with us to take the money or give that to one smart student.”

Meanwhile, parents are being encouraged to send their kids abroad for studies as they too at first did not believe.

Among parents was Michael Sammie, father of one of the students studying in China who requested other parents and leaders to give their kids the opportunity to further their studies in a new environment where they will understand the world and when giving back to the society will be in international standards.

 

Petition Underway -To Detach Culture & Tourism From Information Ministry

By Teacee Gbeway

A group under the banner Reclaiming the Liberia Beaches and Waterways Project is expected to petition the 54th National Legislature to create and establish the Center for National Culture & Tourism as an entity detached from the Ministry of Information.

The center, when created, shall be called National Agency for Culture and Tourism. The agency shall be clothed with authority to reclaim, protect, manage, monitor and supervise, maintain and control beaches and waterways along the coastal belts and wetland of Liberia.

According to the petition, the idea is geared towards protecting beaches and waterways from waste and chemical pollutions; improving Liberia’s beaches for tourism and the waterways to support agriculture programs.

The project has enormous positive impacts on communities where it is executed. Accordingly, clean environments are safe environments; clean communities reduce the incidences of outbreaks of diseases and sicknesses like malaria; diarrhea, cholera, et.

The project employed 1, 800 underprivileged Liberians including 20 percent old-age, 40 percent girls, 20 percent people with disabilities, 20 percent boys aimed at ensuring that underprivileged Liberians are directly empowered economically; this has reduced their exposure to rape and exploitation.

The cleaning of beaches and waterways over the period infused cash into the economy through wages paid to workers and other project staff. The project has also infused monies in beneficiaries’ pockets as a means of economic empowerment through which they have increased their power to purchase goods from petty traders and small businesses over a period of time.

This also empowered residents to provide basic social services for their families. It is expected that the cleaning of beaches will also attract investors who are interested in transforming the beaches to resorts, which will create long- term jobs for residents who have skills in service management, housekeeping, among other things.

The project has helped in reducing government spending on outbreak of water and air bone diseases as well as running stomach and diarrheal in slum communities.

It has afforded some workers opportunities to engage into business, which enhances the country’s economy.

The project is also meant to reduce death rate during the Ebola crisis in Liberia.

Since September 2011, the leadership has successfully implemented the first phase, with the Liberia Maritime Authority, the second phase with the MFPD and the third phase with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Initially, the Liberia Maritime Authority as one of the stakeholders whose activities are coastal and waterways- related, funded and managed the first phase of the project before it was officially launched, considering the fact that 80% of the beneficiaries (workforce) were youths between ages 18 to 35.

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) turned over the management of the project to the leadership to the Ministry of Youth and Sports which has the statutory responsibility to develop and implement youth’s empowerment programs and projects.

The program aims at increasing employment opportunities for youths of school going age, in and out of these vulnerable communities as well as vulnerable adults. It also targets vulnerable youths with minimum quota of at least 20% old-age, 40% women, 20% people living with disabilities and 20% men.

This will help improve the sanitation and hygiene condition of the beaches and waterways systems in Liberia; thereby preventing erosion and reduce death rate of mostly children from drowning.

When enacted and turned into handbill, it will further prevent, minimize and discourage illegal sand mining and stop the misuse of waterways in various communities.

The project is in line with the agenda of transformation of the government, impacting the lives of underprivileged Liberians by empowering them through the social economic sector of Liberia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PWI Conducts Training For WASSEC Trial Test

Praise Word Incorporated (PWI) is conducting its weekly series of invigilator’s training for the upcoming trial test in partnership with the National Association of Liberia School Principals (NALSP), aimed at minimizing mass failures in the pending public examination scheduled for April, 2018.

The PWI is a business company founded December 16, 2014 with the vision to minimize mass failures in public tests in Liberia.

The training which is being conducted at the offices of Praise Word Incorporated behind the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville is intended to provide trainees with the basic technical knowledge on how to properly invigilate public examinations.

The training has been on-going since July 12, 2017 up to present. Over one hundred twenty -five persons who were participants of the past training session are now benefiting from the PWI on a periodic contractual employment.

The PWI is encouraging more females to take advantage of the training opportunities. The company is calling on more college students and qualified trade technicians to join the training session. In order to be part of the training, interested individuals must be  competent high school graduates; they  should not be  classroom teachers.

Serving as  Senior Administrator during the opening session of the Fifth Class of trainees, the Chief Executive Officer, James Henry Hall, disclosed that the mission of Praise Word Incorporated is not only to reduce mass failures in public tests, but  to create a system that will introduce evaluation answered booklets for examination candidates;  ensure full evaluation of public test candidates; supply an up to date laboratory equipment; provide teachers’ loans; manufacture copybooks; textbooks; and locally made school attires.

Speaking after the training session, Trainee Stanley E. Sackie said an invigilator is a person charged with the responsibilities of conducting a particular examination session in the presence of the candidates, while the role of an invigilator is to ensure that all candidates have equal opportunities to show their abilities and to prevent examination mal practices.

In another development, the company is calling on all high schools in Liberia to introduce Praise Word Incorporated system of Invigilation during their periodic test to enable students overcome fear factors during public examinations.

Chief Coordinator Officer T. Edweader Toliver made the call to the Liberian Educational Council as well as WASSEC to embrace the company’s system and include PWI in their testing and evaluation programs.

 

WASSCE Candidates Celebrate Government’s Gesture

By Mafanta Kromah

Senior students in many schools are celebrating after President George M. Weah announced during his first state of the nation address that fees for the 2018 West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) will be waived for both private and public senior students.

According to student Mayamu Kromah of the St. Francis High School in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, the president has done a huge favour for them for taking on the initiative to pay their WSSCE fees.

“I was not ready to go to school until my father found a way to pay my exam fees but the God, President Weah has taken the initiative to assist our parents in their struggle of giving us education,” she noted.

Mayamu said, on Monday she could not go to school because she was asked to pay her exam fees of US$60 and was finding means to raise the money when she heard that the president announced his commitment made during the campaign that he will pay their fees.

Leela Johnson of the Calvary Temple AG Mission School in Paynesville also expressed the excitement when she overheard people taking about the president’s statement on the exam fees.

“You don’t know how happy I am to have heard that our new leader will really stick to his promises, all I felt when the promise was made during campaign was just intended to get us and our parents votes,” she said.

It can be recalled that during the campaign, for more than a week students were seen moving around at the Coalition for Democratic Change Headquarters that president Weah by then the standard bearer of the CDC needed the number of students in various schools to pay their exam fees.

Addressing the nation, the Liberian leader noted that “The improvement of our education is and shall remain a constant and major priority during my administration.”

He continue that “For example, I made a promise that my government will absorb the WAEC fees for 12th graders, and I remain committed to that promise, my government has already started to disburse these fees by committing an initial among of two hundred thousand US dollars .”

At the same time, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), in consultation with the Ministry of Education,  has extended the deadline for registration for the 2018 exam.

A press release says that the final deadline is February 13, 2018 and that any school failing to register before the final deadline will be responsible for paying the exam fees for those students.

The institution called on all schools administration and principal to register their students the institution online portal and that schools will be about t register their student without making any payment.

WAEC assures schools that have already paid their fees to expect refund once the government fulfils its remaining financial obligation to the institution.

Meanwhile, the the Education Ministry is urging all schools that have not yet registered their students to desist from collecting fees from students.

 

 

LRA Assures Modern Customs Administration -As It Observes International Customs Day

The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) on Friday January 26, 2018 joined the world over to celebrate International World Customs Day.

The celebration was a global event intended to recognize the role of customs officials and agencies in maintaining border security with a focus on the working conditions and challenges facing customs officers in their respective lines of duties.

LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, speaking during the celebration at the Monrovia City Hall, disclosed that the transformation of customs operations to a modern state remains a core vison of the Authority.

She said LRA envisages to ensure a modern and standardized customs operations with the aim to enhance trade facilitation and revenue collection.

“Our vision is to have a transformed and a modern customs with stronger integrity more fully automated in adherence to international customs including regulatory and service performance standards,” CG Tamba asserted.

CG Tamba said the integration of technology in customs operations is very essential to ensuring an increase revenue collection.

She said there are several earmarked transformational projects underway including the upgrading to a new version of the Automated System for customs Data (ASYCUDA).

The LRA Commissioner General noted that the web-based system will be assessable via the Internet and is expected to get customers graduate from calling for declaration to using paperless technology to declare their goods.

She emphasized that customs officers and brokers have a national responsibility to ensure that trade across the national border legal and that goods leaving and coming in the country’s customs territories, through the international supply chains, are lawful and safe.

CG Tamba called on all stakeholders including government and international partners to render the LRA the needed support that will enhance the modern technology needed nowadays at Customs in ensuring transparency and integrity in carrying out cross-border businesses.

Delivering the keynoted address at this year’s celebration of International Customs Day, Liberian businessman Amin Modad praised the LRA for leading the change in promoting the collection of lawful revenue.

“If you understand just how much the functioning of the Liberian Government depends on customs receipts, you will join me in recognizing that the LRA has become an example to follow,” Mr. Modad declared.

He described the role of customs officers and brokers as very vital to the development and sustainability of the Liberian economy.

The celebration which was under the theme “A secure business environment for economic development” brought together LRA customs and officers of other Liberian paramilitary apparatus connected with revenue collection.