In Matilda Parker 1.2M Bond

By: Jacqueline Lucia Dennis

After entertaining legal argument between the prosecution and the defense Monday, on the motion for justification and exception to bill bond  in favour of suspended NPA Managing Director Matilda Parker,  Criminal Court ”C” Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh  is expected  to rule on the augment today at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia .

During the proceeding, witness George Gbormia testimony was postponed several days on direct and cross examination, likewise the arguments on the bond hearing.

Defense  lawyers  cited several  laws  and  augured  among other things noting that  they filed a 1.2 million  bond  with  the  Family  Dollars Universal  Insurance, where  witness  George   Gbormia, Underwriting Manager appeared and testified  that the  insurance company  met  all  of the requirements setup  by the government  agency and intuitions  that led the insurance  company  to operate as a solvent  entity.

They further argued that US$450,000.00 and US$300,000.00 and   a reinsurance treaty of US$ 750, 000. 00 were presented to these intuitions before they were qualified to operate.

However, the prosecution argued that the insurance company met with part of the requirements and therefore requested the court to dismiss the insurance US$1.2million bond, claiming that the company does not have the asset and legal requirement under the law to guarantee the bond.

The  bond  was intended to prevent  the court from ordering   the imprisonment  of two  of the defense clients,  suspended  NPA  Managing Director Parker   and  NPA Comptroller Christina   Kpabar Paeley, both of whom   are accused of stealing   US$837,950  from the  port according to  GAC audit report.

 

 

“Lacklustre Agriculture” Program Experienced … As Chenoweth Highlights UP’s Failed Commitment

By T. Michael Johnny 0886571899/0775820581

The former Minister of Agriculture, Florence Chenoweth, has highlighted series of policy lapses, non-commitment, and alleged misplaced priorities practiced by the Unity Party- led government as cardinal factors that triggered her resignation from the post, having served in the late 1980s and her subsequent reappointment in 2009.

Chenoweth, also ex-minister of Agriculture during the administration of the late William R. Tolbert, endured sequence of turbulent times setting prices of the country’s staple food rice and kicking-off large scale agricultural program that would supplement the millions spent on the importation of the commodity, which evidently sparked off the rice riot in 1979.

The ex-agriculture minister was once at the epicentre of the bloody 1979 rice riot when the ministry proposed an increment in the price of rice from US$22 to US$26 for a bag of parboiled rice, however, Chenoweth’s reappearance at the ministry has evidently been marked by frustrations and regrets.

Speaking to journalists in Monrovia, the ex-agricultural expert indicated that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), headed by Minister Amara Konneh, reneged to allot US$35 million in the budget to support the government’s dormant agriculture sector as publicly pronounced, noting that not a dime has been received to the effect.

“Chenoweth continued: “Members of the press, I tendered in my resignation because the government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has reneged to allocate US$35 million in the annual budget to support agriculture programs and production; the government is not adequately supporting the sector.”

Before parting company with the Minister of Agriculture, the rather frustrated Chenoweth regretted that the ministry had to rent trucks to enable it provide farming tools and seeds to farmers in leeward counties, which she reckoned speaks volumes of unmatched commitment by the UP- led government.

“Liberia’s agriculture sector, like others has been devastated by years of mismanagement and war, and as such, there is an urgent need for the sector to be financially supported by the government to attain its desired results and reduce importation,” decried the outgoing minister.

Minister Chenoweth’s abrupt resignation marked another downward trend in the country’s quest to attain viable agriculture programs as US$30 million intended to commence large scale production in commercial rice farming entrusted with the foundation of the African Development Aid (ADA) has been allegedly squandering by the operatives.

The US$30 million, a grant from slain Libyan leader Col. Mammaur Ghaddafi, was meant to ignite large scale commercial rice farming in Foya, Lofa County, but the Chief Executive Officer of ADA, Wendell McIntosh, accused members of the National Legislature and Executive of “collective chopping” that stalled the project.

Recently, the former Chairman of the National Investment Commission, Dr. Richard Tolbert, disclosed that Liberia spends over US$200 million on the importation of the nation’s stable food, rice annually, noting that such expenditure is a total waste and huge financial blow to an already struggling country.

He expressed fears that the price of the nation’s staple food will increase on the world market in the future, given the agricultural difficulties posed by global climate change, limited land space, population growth and other factors affecting the production of rice and other imported food commodities.

The ex-chairman of NIC stressed that rise in food prices is going to affect Liberia because the country imports most of its foods and as such, it has  limitation in controlling the price of food on the world market.

He warned that Liberia has a rapid population growth and demanded a need to increase local production of the country’s staple diet and other commodities to reduce the high trends of the importation of food products.

An In Profile Daily research revealed that the strategy of liberalizing rice imports to Liberia is underpinned by both domestic and international imperatives as the country’s long history of poor economic development policies (especially misplaced agricultural priorities) have over the years resulted in periodic shortages in the supply of rice, the country’s staple food crop.

Liberia could afford the importation of rice from the United States since the price of rice imports remained low relative to those of the country’s main exports (rubber and iron ore). However, the eruption of global economic crisis in the 1970s reduced Liberia’s export revenues and weakened the state’s ability to import rice.

In an attempt to deal with such revenue crises in the mid-1970s, the Tolbert government introduced a strategy of capitalized domestic production of rice geared towards promoting self-sufficiency in rice for domestic consumption.

This strategy succeeded for a while in raising rice production in Liberia, but then it unraveled in the late 1970s as American higher interest rate policy prompted outflow of US dollars from Liberia and tightened credit to the mechanized rice sector that had relied heavily on international borrowing.

The government decided to reverse the consequent decline in rice production through increased producer price incentives, but was massively opposed; as such, incentives were seen as an attempt to raise the profits of the farming political elite.

During much of the 1980s, at least 25-35 percent of Liberia’s total annual rice consumption came from food aid and commercial rice imports as government’s strategy for rice self-sufficiency became impossible in the midst of fiscal neglect of agriculture and rampant corruption.

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Quarantined Community

Residents of Neidonwen Town, a community highly hit by Ebola-hit in Margibi County, where 17 year- old Abraham Memeigar was diagnosed with the disease have expressed frustration over the manner in which they were being treated by the Ministry of Health and its partners when they were quarantined.

The Neidonwen residents expressed frustration Wednesday, August 5, 2015, when the Liberian Media for Democratic Initiative (LMDI) held a public dialogue forum with them to understand the plight of the people, the recent Ebola outbreak, funds given and materials used to combat the disease.

Speaking during the dialogue, Neidonwen Youth Chairman, Abraham Garway, said during the outbreak and quarantine period, they were asked to remain at their various homes with an assurance of providing basic food items and other needs during the 21 days period, but unfortunately, he said the promise was reportedly unfulfilled by relevant authorities.

Residents explained that on several occasions, their names were written and tallied for food rations and preventive materials by the Health Ministry and other international organizations, but indicated that food and supplies were never given as promised.

However, in reaction, the Community Health Officer of Neidonwen, Miatta Massaquoi, said several food and materials were distributed to the affected persons and family of deceased 17-year old Abraham Memeigar because they were directly quarantined.

According to her, the entire village was never quarantined, noting that they should not have provided food rations to everyone because the entire town was not quarantined and besides, the rations were distributed by international non- governmental organizations and not the Ministry of Health.

It can be recalled that health authorities announced a new confirmed Ebola case in Margibi County in June this year. The head of Liberia’s Incident Management System Tolbert Nyenswah said Abraham Memeigar, a 17-year-old boy who died on Sunday, June 28 at his father’s residence in Unification City was Ebola- related.

Nyenswah said specimens extracted from the victim were confirmed Ebola positive following meticulous medical tests. He said about 28 persons were quarantined for being in direct contact with Memeigar before his death.

Schools Closed . . . Back To School

Though the Liberian Government has declared schools closed as of July 31, 2015 to re-open in September 2015 to restore the nation’s academic calendar, some schools are said to be running classes up to present.

Under the guise of vacation school, tutorial, or extra classes, many of those schools reportedly in session allegedly charge fees as all students, including 9th and 12th graders wear color clothes to classes.

This paper has gathered that the schools involved have planned for their 9th and 12th graders to attend classes to get prepared and join re-sitters for pending WAEC exams.

The reported development has rattled many parents who are striving to register their children in August as mandated by the government to ensure the re-opening of schools in September this year.

“We don’t even know what control the Ministry of Education has over private schools in this country because most of the schools that are allowing their students to attend classes are privately owned,” a disgusted parent in Paynesville  noted Thursday.

At a closing program of one private school on Bushrod Island recently, a school authority disclosed that 9th graders there would be given special lessons every day after the closure in order to prepare them to sit for the WAEC exams.

A roaming reporter of the In Profile also observed on Bushrod Island yesterday that scores of students were in uniforms, adding, “Most students are said to be attending what they called summer school because they could not pass due to deficiencies.”

A school administrator also told the roaming reporter last week in Monrovia that most students declined in their academic performance due to the decision taken by the Ministry of Education from the onset to close schools without promotion.

The government’s decision to close schools across the country on July 31, 2015 to be re-opened in September overruled recommendations from the 53rd National Legislature, among which the august body recommended that the academic year should continue until September and that 9th and 12th graders be mandated to attend Saturday classes to prepare them sit for the WAEC exams in September this year.

The recommendations also indicated that Education Minister George Werner should withdraw his letter written WAEC authorities seeking cancellation of the exams this year but these recommendations are said to be side brushed.

To this, a Lawmaker who doesn’t wish to be named sarcastically wondered “what a mess of a situation; we have an educational system we consider ‘messy’, we added more mess by promoting many students who did not need to be promoted in one semester and now we have school administrators trying to correct the ‘mess’ by requiring students they have promoted to go back to school for refresher, so why did we really close schools?  What a mess!”

 

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Action Aid Ends Validation W/shop

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

Empowering through awareness to influence policies, Action Aid has concluded a two- day workshop in Monrovia.

Following a month- long assessment done in ten communities in Monsterrado, Gbarpolu, Margibi and Grand Cape Mount Counties on the effects of (EVD), over forty participants gathered at Sharks’ Entertainment Center in Sinkor on August 7-8 to submit a valid Post-Ebola recovery plan.

Speaking at the program, Action Aid Country Director, Korto Williams said: “We have members of communities, representations of the government, Media, women group, civil societies; when we share our ideas, [whenever] there is a conflict that affects our country. We will be in a position to respond and not have a high death toll.”

With an aim to advocate for policies, Madam Williams added: “We are trying to reach a citizen chart.”

Day two was marked by presentations done by four groups on policies reviewed such as the National Disaster Management Policy, National Health and Social Welfare Policy, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) 2012-2017 and the Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan.

Subsequently, participants concluded on the need for better analysis of policy documents, with the involvement of experts, getting the media to disseminate and simplify in other forms of communication, and create a platform to engage stakeholders.

In appreciation of the program,   Head of the National Rural Women Group in Margibi County, Esther Clarke, acknowledged: “Action Aid has been to our county to carry out [awareness]; they empower us by training us, though we were not part of the Ebola response.”

Madam Clarke also stressed: “This exercise should be implemented, we should not only [attend] workshops to add our voices after we [leave] everything [ends], we expect it to work.”

At the close of the program, assuring Action Aid’s commitment, Head of Programme and Policy, Laskshmi Moore, remarked: “We are building capacity of community around understanding policies. We know communities were not [informed] about existing policies and technical gaps around that.”

Founded in 1972, Action Aid works with local partners in over 45 countries, helping more than 15 million impoverished and disadvantaged people. Its head office is located in South Africa.

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GBA Fosters Unity

By: David S. Johnson/dsavid41@gmail.com / Intern

A newly founded youth-based organization in the Sophie Community, called Golden Bird Association (GBA), has vowed to foster unity among community members.

GBA, through its Chairman on Mobilization, Arthur Holder, said it will carry out the exercise by creating awareness on issues, including teenage pregnancy, harmful substances and other vices that pose danger to the society.

In an interview with the In Profile Daily on Saturday,  Holder said the organization intends to venture into awareness and counselling on teenage pregnancy and enlightening youths on being positive.

The GBA Mobilization Chairman noted that the organization was founded on July 12, 2014 with the aim  of promoting and scouting youthful talents as well as creating unity within the community and its surroundings.

According to him, one of the organization’s targets is the issue of tackling HIV/AIDs through awareness; which is one of the most prevalent sicknesses among young people.

Holder named another challenge confronting young people as  harmful drugs’ consumption by young people; something he noted the organization has been working to mitigate.

The GBA Mobilization Chairman also said if youth in the community are not properly educated to the effects of harmful drugs’ usage as well as the danger teenage pregnancy poses to young women, they will become addicted to such harmful substances thus impeding girls’ educational and social status.

Drug usage, he stressed, “starts with the individual and spreads through influence to other youths in the community as such, the organization seeks to give out free counselling to youths who are constantly involved with these negative practices.”

He continued: “It would be of importance if a fellow youth is helping in the process of mobilizing, counselling and creating awareness on important issues which seek to attract another youth into listening.”

Also speaking, the President of GBA, Mayango Sinnatuah, expressed frustration that the organization is not being supported by other well-meaning Liberians despite these meaningful contributions. “Rather, we are depending on internal source for income generations,” he said.

Sinnatuah also said: “The entire finance for this organization is being generated from the members through voluntary donations and dues.”

The GBA President also informed the In Profile Daily that though they have sent out several letters for support to organizations within the community and its environs, there hasn’t been any reply.

Sinnatuah said the organization is hoping to reduce illiteracy among youth in the community through awareness on the prevention of Human Immune Virus or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs) and its prevention.

He said they are anticipating the help of other organizations to help in buttressing their initiatives and further encouraged other communities to initiate programs that will empower youth for a brighter future.

Meanwhile, youths in the community have expressed satisfaction for the establishment of the organization which they said is fostering unity among them.

US$100m Investment Pinches -APM Terminal “Operations Economy Backlash”

By T. Michael Johnny 0886571899/0775820581

A 25-year concession agreement valued at US$100 million signed by the government and APM Terminal to manage, operate and modernize the National Port Authority (NPA) in February 2011, has been slightly criticized for its high taxes charged and undue bureaucracies in its cargo handling.

During public hearing of the Government-APM Terminal agreement in 2010, former Senators Isaac Nyenabo and Abel Massally of Grand Gedeh and Grand Cape Mount Counties respectively were apprehensive over the agreement both in contest of monetary value and scope of operations relative to the ailing economy.

The “meagre” US$100 million deal, according to the ex-vocal lawmakers was extremely minute in terms of investment for least developed countries like Liberia and doubted the institution’s immediate authority over the aging dilapidated port whose facilities dwarfed its modern counterparts.

Giving their input during deliberations and discussions at plenary session in 2010, the ex-senators argued that the investment capital provided by APM Terminal could have been allocated in government’s budget and continue its operation instead of conceding to US$100 million agreement in which profits accrued by the institution would be used for “snail modernization” as evidenced by ongoing works.

Shuttling through countless APM Terminal offices at the busy NPA facility, a custom officer only identified as Peters frowned that undue bureaucracies and high taxes charged by the company have greatly contributed to the increase in prices of goods on the local market.

“It’s now a little bit difficult since APM Terminal took over operations of the port back in February 2011; taxes previously charged when the government was firmly in control have increased and this is a direct result of the agreement signed by the Unity Party-led government headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government,” Peters claimed.

Informed sources at the Freeport who prefer anonymity confided in the In Profile Daily that the government and APM Terminal agreement is strictly based on alleged mutual consent with authorities in officialdom pocketing “lump sum monies” to protect the business interest of the company.

“Even before the deal was signed and operations formally commenced in 2011, the concession agreement was heavily criticized by a cross-section of citizens who held the opinion that taxes would dismally increase; here we are today,” said one anonymous source.

Under the leadership of suspended Managing Director Matilda Wokie Parker, the APM Terminal agreement was branded as “important partner” in building an infrastructure that would be enviable among ports in Africa, but five years following operations, there are still visible signs of limited improvement, although they have two decades to their credit.

Operating on approximately 600 meters quay, APM Terminal Liberia operates the Freeport of Monrovia, which constitutes the gateway to Liberia’s economy and boasts of “impressive multipurpose facility” composed of equipment to handle cargoes such as rice, cement, latex, unitized or palletized cargo, vehicles, frozen products and timber.

Although importers have increasingly complained about high taxes, however, authorities of APM Terminal said they are committed in creating new jobs, careers and training opportunities for Liberians that will create lives for generations.

The company said in leadership ranks, they are also committed to have local Liberians comprise 50% of its executives by 2016, claiming that they are on track to achieve it with 40% of its leadership team already comprising Liberians following 2014.

 

Busted! -DEA Storms ‘Turtle Base’

By: Lewis K. Glay 886469835/lglay.inprofile@gmail.com

At late morning Tuesday, the premises of the ‘Turtle Base,’ a notorious terrain in Paynesville experienced the wrath of newly recruited officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency under the command of Major William J.S. Sarville assigned in Paynesville.

“Alarm blow, alarm blow,” a travelling bag seller shouted as more than a dozen of drug users forced their way out from a portion of a demolished structure that was still erected and sealed with rumpled tarpaulins.

Like a colony of bees, the drug users, predominantly car loaders, fled their hide-out leaving behind personal effects, leaping helplessly under the influence of substances they appeared to have consumed in the morning hours.

Shortly, scores of DEA officers rushed on the scene from the arrear with knives and other instruments and brought down the tarpaulins as the occupants were in disarray.

In a distance at the arrear, a multitude of young people, supposedly those who are said to be lured into using harmful substances stood agape tweeting into the direction where the DEA raid was taking place near the main Red-light-ELWA route.

In a brief chat with Major Sarville on the scene, he noted that the exercise is a regular routine aimed at discouraging any community to keep drug users to cause insecurity among the populace.

“I’m Major William J. S. Sarville, Deputy Commander of Red-light Detail.  We try to do this exercise for Liberia to be freed from drugs. In Red-light, we demolish all suspected drug selling places.  This is what we are doing today along with the new DEA recruits…,” the officer in command of the operation told the In Profile during the raid on Tuesday, August 4, 2015.

Deputy Commander Sarville used the opportunity to appeal to the Liberian Government to support the efforts of the DEA to demolish all ghettos in Paynesville.

He assured the public that with the breaking down of drug users’ hide-outs at ‘Turtle Base,’ officers of DEA in Paynesville will continue to make their presence felt in the area, emphasizing that the particular area being occupied by those under the influence of unauthorized drugs has remained fearful for ordinary citizens to pass because most people continue to be victims of regular robberies there.

Though onlookers, especially citizens who reside in the midst of the drug users  stood by and appreciated the exercise of the DEA by nodding their heads and whispering their disgusting feelings about the inhumane activities of the young people who find themselves in the use of  harmful substances, a single concern  on the lips of  the residents and officers of the DEA present  remains how the land  being misused can be properly taken care of by the rightful owner to get the drug users out of the community;

Phase One Textbooks’ Distribution Completed?

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.

UNDP Enhances Border Management

In order to support the decentralization of key security services in Liberia in the wake of the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), two specific interventions were identified.

A refresher training for the Liberia National Police- Police Support Unit (LNP/PSU) and the procurement of full sets of uniforms for the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization- Border Patrol Unit (BIN/BPU) required funding.

The LNP/PSU officers who are deployed across the country are helping to prevent and respond to security incidents and concerns in communities while the BIN/BPU officers are ensuring border surveillance along the country’s border posts.

In fulfillment of one of the two areas of interventions for security services decentralization and the enhancement of border management in Liberia, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with funding from the Peace Building Fund (PBF), Tuesday, turned over 167 sets of uniforms and accessories to the BIN for use by the Border Patrol Unit (BPU).

The items include pants, shirts, boots, berets, inner and outer belts, socks, shoulder cords, shoulder patches, whistles, handcuffs, handcuffs cases, expandable batons, whistle chains, whistle hooks, rain gear ponchos, classic crewneck T-shirts, immigration badges and private badges. They were officially handed over by Nessie Golakai- Gould, UNDP Assistant Country Director and Governance Pillar Team Leader.

“On behalf of UNDP through the Justice and Security Program, I am pleased to hand over 167 full sets of uniforms and accessories for BIN/BPU officers and hope that it will be distributed to the Border Patrol Unit (BPU) officers throughout the country,” Madam Gould said.

The UNDP Justice and Security Program (JSP) seeks to support the efforts of the Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary in the consolidation of recovery of the country through a focus on reforms aimed at strengthening security and justice institutions. It also supports Government efforts to revamp rural communities and reduce crime thus, creating a safe and secure environment for conflict prevention and development.

The JSP, through the Peace Building Fund is providing support to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Judiciary, the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for implementation of the regional security Hubs 2 and 3 activities.

Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Deputy Commissioner for Administration, Col. Danny B. Sartee and Director of Border Patrol Unit, Col. Wilson S. Garpeh, separately expressed appreciation to UNDP for the continued support to the BIN.

Col. Sartee assured that the items will be immediately dispatched and distributed amongst BIN officers at the various border posts in Liberia. He hailed BIN officers in the field for their sacrificial services to the State and people despite the numerous challenges being encountered.