The Chief Imam of the Muslim Community in Nimba County, Alhaji Isa Siaway, has called on Muslims across the country to desist from discrimination and be honest and respectful to everybody, especially non- Muslims.Speaking to reporters in Ganta shortly after the breaking of Ramadan, last Friday, Imam Siaway said that the Islamic religion belongs to all races, regardless of ethnicity and location. “Be a God fearing Muslim and stop any form of discrimination because our God who created us is honest and has compassion for everybody, so we shouldn’t discriminate against others for who they are,” Imam Siaway saidImam Siaway who came from a Christian background, cautioned his fellow Muslims to be respectful of others, especially non-Muslims. That is the only way to win them over to the Islamic faith, he said.“This Islamic religion is clear and simple to all races. It doesn’t favor any race, tribe or from which location one comes,” he added.Prior to the civil unrest in Liberia, the Muslim and Christian communities lived together with no form of harassment, intimidation or molestation, several Muslims who talked to the Daily Observer in Ganta, said.They claimed that politicians and others caused divisions between the two communities and it led to the destruction of churches and mosques, especially in Nimba County.“Now the relationship is once again improving greatly,” said another Muslim who did not want to be identified. “But there still remains some bitterness when it comes to ownership of properties or lands,” he added.Even though Imam Siaway did not mention this in his press briefing, it is widely acknowledged that the Islamic religion belongs to a particular tribe, mainly ethnic Mandingoes, who brought the religion or introduced it to Nimba County.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Senate plenary on Tuesday unanimously agreed that all Senators attend the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) Conference scheduled to take place in Gbarnga, Bong County from March 29 to April 2.The Senate reached the decision after the Chairperson of the CRC, Madam Gloria Musu-Scott had presented a summary of the work of the Commission since it started in 2012.Madam Scott said over 500 people have been invited to attend the conference and informed lawmakers that several other equally important issues which were not highlighted in her briefing will be placed on the table for deliberation.The CRC boss started her briefing Tuesday by acknowledging contributions from donors and partners among them USAID, UNDP and the Liberian government, among others.According to Chairperson Scott, the process started in earnest in September, 2012 with the setting up of the administrative structure into various sub-committees.In April, 2013, said Madam Scott, the Commission decided to go public, starting with the outreach process, which she said was intended to tell Liberians about the Constitution. This was followed by the civil education aspect which commenced in February, 2014 and culminated in nation-wide public consultations.She said the Commission gave out forms during visitations to the 73 electoral districts of the country, and in return received a total of 56,729 suggestions. Of that number, she said 34% of the responses came from women.Citizens’ NeedsOn the question of what Liberians stated on those forms as their needs, Madam Scott said the Commission observed that there are things Liberians hold dear, things they believe the country can do for them; and likewise things they think they can do for their country.Reduce political partiesShe said the people are now concerned about social economic values accepting the fact that they have now received political rights, even to the point that they have asked under the section for elections that political parties be reduced to not more than four or not less than two.Elections: Independent board of commissioners and an elections courtFurthermore, she told the lawmakers that Liberians are suggesting that an independent and impartial board of commissioners be set up to guide the electoral process, that the board of commissioners be elected; and that the hearing of contested matters from elections should not be initially heard by the board of commissioners, but by an elections court.Access to justice: return of “sassay wood”In terms of access to justice, Madam Scott said the Liberian people have stated they do not have enough access to the Supreme Court, and to express that, they are asking for the return of “sassay wood,” which is ‘trial by ordeal.’Land ownershipIn the area of social economic rights, she said citizens observed that even though the country is wealthy, the population remains poor. They are therefore suggesting that in order to benefit from the wealth of the country, the customary or traditional people should own the land of their ancestry as a matter of Constitution.CurrencyOn the issue of currency of the country, she said citizens cried that the dual currency was keeping them poor, and suggested that all transactions in Liberia including the payment of salaries should be done in Liberian dollars. Foreign currencies, they said, should be in the banks for business transactions.Citizenship With regard to citizenship, she said the people of Liberia have said that the provisions for citizenship should remain as it is, which is arguably said to be the most racial in the world.Local government officials should be electedThey also suggested that their elected leaders should be accountable to them, especially those in the local government. Superintendents, district commissioners and city mayors should be elected and they as the electorate should have the right to remove them. They however, suggested that paramount chiefs should be elected according to the traditional protocol.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The political leader of the Alternative National Congress, (ANC) Alexander B. Cummings has made good his promise to the people of Bolongoidu, Quardu Gboni District in Lofa County.During his first county tour recently, Mr. Cummings assured the inhabitants in that Muslim community of his willingness to participate in the reconstruction of the area.For his compassion for the people, Mr. Cummings made a cash donation of US$3, 000 to complete a bigger mosque that would serve the surrounding villages in the area.Making the presentation, Mr. Cummings said he remains committed to serving the people of Liberia without any discrimination.He said his donation was an initial fulfillment, and promised to revisit the district during the dedication of the mosque.Receiving the donation, Imam Amara Kamara, Chairman of the Bolongoidu Mosque Project of Quardu Gboni, expressed appreciation for the donation and pledged their support to Mr. Cummings’ quest for the presidency in next year’s legislative and presidential elections.Imam Kamara said the people of Bolongoidu will forever remember the gesture of Mr. Cummings because he is the first political leader in recent times to visit Bolongoidu .Meanwhile, to further appreciate Mr. Cummings’ gesture, the people of Bolongoidu gowned the ANC leader and presented him with a cow to demonstrate their willingness to work with him.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Plenary of the House of Representatives has empowered the Committees on Education and Judiciary to investigate complaints from the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL), including the stalemate between the NTAL and the Ministry of Education. The two committees, chaired by Representatives Dr. Isaac Roland and Worlea Saywah Dunah of Maryland and Nimba, respectively, are expected to jointly probe and report to Plenary, on or before Tuesday, Nov. 15.The decision was reached yesterday, Tuesday, November 8, on the first day of the 2nd Extraordinary Session.The longstanding conflict between the NTAL and the Education Ministry emerged when the Ministry decided to outsource a portion of the country’s Public Primary School system to Bridge International Academies and other private providers.The NTAL accused Education Minister George Werner and other Ministry officials of constant violations of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, the Education Law and human rights by privatizing the education system and dismissing teachers and the leaderships of teachers’ unions in Margibi and Montserrado counties, among others.The Ministry of Education, on the other hand, accused the dismissed teachers and education workers of violating the country’s labor law and the Civil Service Standing Orders.In the NTAL’s formal complaint to the House of Representatives, which was read yesterday, it spoke of provocations and violations of their rights that need urgent intervention in order to maintain the country’s fragile peace.“As a matter of information, the differences between the Education Ministry and the NTAL started when the Ministry decided to outsource portion of our Public Primary School system to profit-making providers such as Bridge International Academies and other private providers including BRAC, an agricultural NGO, Omega, a Ghanaian firm, and many others,” the NTAL noted.The House’s Plenary also mandated the Committees on Rules, Order and Administration and Youth and Sports to investigate the complaints from the ECOWAS Civil Society Movement of Liberia (ECSOMOL) against the Ministry of Youth and Sports for allegedly sabotaging ECOWAS programs and projects in the country. The youth group accused Youth and Sports Minister Saah Charles N’Tow and Deputy Minister for Youth Development Lance Gonyon.The Committee on Rules, Order and Administration is chaired Grand Bassa lawmaker J. Byron Brown, while the Youth and Sports Committee is headed by J. Gabriel Nyenkan. There was no timeline attached for the Committee to report to Plenary. This is the first task by each of the four committees since they were overhauled by the new leadership of Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay and Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchue.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
CENTAL program manager, Gerald D. Yeakula. The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has called on the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to timely and independently verify and publish all declared assets, income and liabilities, including those of President George M. Weah.In a statement issued on Monday, CENTAL said it is glad to acknowledge receipt of reports of declaration of assets, income, and liabilities by President George Manneh Weah, which the General Auditing Commission (GAC) has confirmed.Although it is belated, CENTAL lauded President Weah for declaring his assets in compliance with chapter 10 of the 2014 Code of Conduct for Public officials that requires all public officials to declare their assets.“This is one of several steps that demonstrate concrete commitment and political will to set the necessary condition for a successful fight against corruption in Liberia,” the statement said.CENTAL has also called on the Vice President, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, Justices of the Supreme Court and other officials of government to do likewise.“We maintain that former officials accused of corrupt acts, especially those of the immediate past regime, must be investigated and if found guilty prosecuted in keeping with relevant Liberian Laws,” CENTAL said.CENTAL said former officials who refused to declare their assets while leaving power/government, should be compelled to do so or prosecuted, in keeping with relevant provisions of the Code of Conduct.Finally, “we would like to admonish President Weah against repeating mistakes of former President Sirleaf, when she, among other things, shielded her officials; ignored recommendations from independent committees established to probe corruption scandals as well as appointed persons with tainted records in key government positions.”Any anti-corruption effort that is not built on a strong prosecution and deterrent regime is bound to fail; this is the weak link in Liberia’s current anti-graft efforts, which must be addressed to decisively tackle corruption and bad governance in the country, the statement maintained.The statement further noted that continuous violation of the Code of Conduct does not augur well for the reputation of the government and its professed desire to address graft, arguably the biggest impediment to the success of the pro-poor agenda.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) is calling on the Government to ensure that foreign companies adhere to labour laws and agreements when dealing with the rights of workers.The GTUC made this call after the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) refused to pay workers monies deducted from their overtime payments, even thoughGTUC General Secretary, Lincoln Lewisin October of 2016 a decision was made to cease taxing overtime and all premium hours worked.“The fact that Minister Keith Scott wrote management earlier this month advising mechanisms be put in place to return taxes deducted on overtime and all premium hours worked with effect from 1st October 2016 and management continues to ignore this directive sends a strong signal that BCGI is above Government and the laws of our land,” the GTUC said in a statement.GTUC is calling on Government to honour the Constitution that establishes sovereignty over the nation and its workers and hold BCGI accountable for its deviant industrial relations practices that continue to infringe the laws of the land.“There is something troubling with Guyana’s relationship with BCGI that is allowing successive governments to allow the transgressing of the rights of Guyanese labour and the violating of our laws,” it added.The workers’ representative body said the company refuses to meet with officials, and workers are promising industrial action if they are not paid their monies.
City Hall financial woes…City Hall extends opening hoursJust two weeks after granting a one-month amnesty period to defaulting ratepayers on the accumulated interest on unpaid property rates, the Treasury Department of the Georgetown municipality reported that it has received over $33 million in payments.8Acting Treasurer John Douglas made the disclosure at Monday’s statutory meeting where he related that a decision has been taken to extend the opening of the Treasury office.The office would now be opened on Saturdays from 09:00h to 12:00h.The option of an amnesty was touted so that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) could accumulate monies to pay staff members for the months of October, November and December. The amnesty period began on November 15 and will end on December 15.In order to look at ways to broaden and increase the Council’s revenue base, the M&CC decided to formulate a new committee to brainstorm ways of increasing its revenue stream. The ‘Think-Tank Committee’ is made up of members of the Finance Committee and other Councillors who volunteered to deliberate on various ways the Council can either collect monies owed or embark on new revenue-earning initiatives. Sitting on the committee are Councillors Monica Thomas, Akeem Peter, Jameel Rasul, Phillip Smith and James Samuels.The first meeting of the committee is expected to be on Wednesday.
…as Committee awaits presentation of 2015 reportThe Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly is expected to begin its work on the 2016 Auditor General Report in a matter of weeks, during which time the Government’s latest fiscal indiscretions will be put under the microscope.During an interview with Guyana Times, PAC member and Member of Parliament (MP), Juan Edghill related that work was still being done on the preceding 2015 Report. He noted that another meeting would have to be called at the Committee level to finalise the report.PAC member Juan EdghillEdghill explained that during the last sitting of Parliament, the Committee was able to clear the backlog of reports dating from eight years ago. As such, the Opposition-chaired PAC dispensed of the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Auditor General Reports. Regarding the 2015 Report, Edghill stated that it was close to completion.“That (2015) report is being prepared to send to the Parliament and the 2016 Auditor General Report, which was tabled in Parliament at the end of September, we’ll start examining now. Within weeks, the Public Accounts [Committee] should start moving (on that),” Edghill assured.Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Issacs“But we have to have a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, for them to bring the report to us and approve it. The Committee completed its work on the examination of the 2015 Report and it is now for the Clerk to do the write-up, format the report, and get our approval for it to be sent to the House.”Once the report is submitted, the Finance Ministry will have 90 days to account for the financial anarchy found by the Auditor General to have occurred since 2015 and documented in his report. This includes abuse of Guyana’s Contingency Fund and widespread overpayment of contractors.At the time of the examination, the Committee had been the scene of turmoil with several accounting officers having to be cautioned and evicted from the Parliament’s chambers for being untruthful to the Committee. In the wake of this, there was a major reshuffling of Permanent Secretaries among various Ministries.Efforts to contact Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, were futile.2016 ReportThe 2016 Auditor General report had re-flagged the fact that the consolidated fund of Guyana was in overdraft. At the end of that year, the Fund reflected an overdraft of $67.5 billion and the cash book, $86 billion. In 2015, the Fund was overdrawn by $42.6 billion.According to the Auditor General, the difference of $18.5 billion between the bank and the cash book was due to a deposit of $6.7 billion not being debited to the cash book. There was also some $22.7 billion in unpresented cheques. It was also revealed that deposits totalling $5.3 billion were not credited to the bank account, while debit advances of $1.6 billion were not credited to the cash book.In its response, the Ministry affirmed that the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act 2003 makes provisions for the account to be overdrawn in order to make up for cash shortfalls while implementing the Budget.
Berbice Under-19 Captain and national junior cricketer Kevin Sinclair will be named Cricketer of the Year when Guyana’s leading youth and sports organisation, the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club, MS, hosts its 28th Annual Awards Ceremony at the St. Francis Training Centre today.His national Under-19 team mate Kevlon Anderson would receive the runner-up award in what would be the biggest sports award programme in Guyana.Club Secretary/CEO Hilbert Foster has said all plan are in place for a highly successful event, and has said the planning committee, consisting of himself, Vice President Mark Papannah and Asst Secretary Simon Naidu, is working very hard to make the event a success.VNet Communications CEO Safraz Sheriffudeen makes donation to RHTYSC Secretary/CEO Hilbert FosterPresident David Granger, Patron of the Club, would be unable to attend due to pressing national duties, but would be sending a representative. The President has also donated $1 million towards assisting the Club to fulfill its list of activities for 2018, especially its Patron’s Fund.Under the Patron’s Fund, the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club assists less fortunate youths and clubs with financial grants. Vice President Mark Papannah disclosed that the Club would be honouring a total of 60 members, Police Officers, Teachers, Retired Educators and students, while donations would be made to dozens of schools, cricket clubs, and also to a young cricketer under the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club’s Dare to Dream programme.The Club last Thursday received several donations for the Awards Ceremony. Long time sponsor Kings Jewellery World handed over a West Indian Cricket Medallion towards the player who would receive the Benefit Year Award, while VNet Communication contributed a large amount of souvenir school bags for the club’s Say No/Say Yes Programme. Other donors included De Sinco Trading, Fitness Express, Dr. Phillip Da Silva, Paul Persaud, Jumbo Jet, Impressions, Gizmos & Gadgets, National Sports Commission, Ricky Deonarine of 4R Bearings, and ANSA McAL.Dr. Barton Scotland, Speaker of the National Assembly, has donated trophies for the top two awards and a large quantity of medals. Bakewell donated a quantity of souvenir clocks, while Mr. Patrick Sukhlall of Impressions contributed souvenir cups towards the hosting of the Club’s biggest ever sports awards programme.Foster has hailed the co-operation of corporate Guyana, and has said the membership of the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club deserves to be honoured as they are the ones who worked tireless to make sure that the Club retains its status in Guyana.Among those to be honoured are Shemaine Campbelle, Jeremy Sandia, Jonathan Rampersaud, Mahendra Gopilall, Shabika Gajnabi, Erva Giddings and Mariam Samaroo.
Based on questions posed by the parliamentary Opposition about the Guyana People’s Militia, the National Assembly was told that 1608 persons have been recruited into the resuscitated group. Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said these persons were recruited at various levels, and they were between the ages of 18 and 35, and physically and mentally stable for entry. These persons, he said, are not forced to join the Militia, but do so of their own free will and are paid $2829 per day.Thus far, 36 persons have been recruited from Region One (Barima-Waini); 154 from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); 365 from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); 204 from Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice); 405 from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); 93 from Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); 42 from Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni); 45 from Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and 264 from Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).According to the Minister, recruitment teams are deployed to the various regions to sensitise persons on the programme and to recruit those interested. Special consideration is given to highly-skilled retired military personnel and skilled professionals. Advertisements are also placed on social media, radio, and television and flyers are distributed to attract interest.The officers are required to attend specialised training three times per week in the regions. The training entails personal drills, map reading and navigation, jungle and weapons training, internal security, national policy and more.Eighteen years after it was disbanded, the Guyana People’s Militia was reactivated on December 1, 2015 in keeping with the defence policy of the six-month-old administration.At the relaunching, the then Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Mark Phillips explained the advantage of having the Militia as a separate entity rather than being part of the GDF as the 2nd Infantry Battalion, as since August 1997.The Chief-of-Staff said several drill halls countrywide would be rehabilitated and Regional Companies would be strengthened through recruitment and the provision of more leadership training for officers and senior non-commissioned officers.The Militia was first established in 1976 in accordance with the Defence Act at a time when the country had been facing internal and security threats.An estimated 1000 persons have been recruited in 2014 and 2015. Phillips said a number of the 55 persons who went Absent Without Leave (AWOL) have since been taking steps to return to duty.Government also expects to boost the GDF’s Engineer Corps to be involved in infrastructural development in the hinterland. The GDF plans to acquire more aircraft and patrol vessels during the next few years.