The Central Bank of Liberia has once again taken a major step to enhance its financially inclusive program across the country. The latest move by the Bank is the construction and dedication of credit union banks in Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties, in the southeast of Liberia.The two counties are among the poorest in Liberia, making access to bank loans extremely difficult. If made available, interest rates on bank loans in these counties could be very high. CBL officials, led by Executive Governor J. Mills Jones, drove to the region last weekend to open the two banks, which would be used by registered credit unions and village savings and loan associations to facilitate access to finances for businesses and residents in that part of the country. The idea of this financial inclusion scheme emanated from Dr. Jones, who believes that unless the Liberian people can have access to the national cake and poverty is reduced, the economy will not be where it ought to be, and the suffering of the people would continue. The Board of Governors of the CBL, comprised of former Finance Ministers, former National Bank governors and commercial bank executives, have endorsed this idea, which is making a strong impact in the lives of ordinary Liberians in the countries rural areas. Thousands of citizens, including business owners, government officials, elders, and youth and student groups, lined up along the roadsides in Grand Gedeh, Rivergee, Grand Kru and Maryland counties to show their support to CBL officials as they visited their counties. Governor Jones’ trip to the Southeast was based on an invitation from citizens and officials of these counties, including Maryland County District #3 Rep. Isaac Roland, a man who is desperate to see the people of Maryland County rise from poverty.Mr. Harold K. Chea, head of the Unity Savings Credit Union in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, was also on hand to receive Dr. Jones and his delegation. Chea told reporters that he is proud to welcome and honor Dr. Mills Jones for his “unprecedented, invaluable, committed and dedicated service toward the empowerment of Liberians through the practical demonstration of his indigenous approach to building the Liberian economy.” Mr. Chea noted that the people of Grand Gedeh were overwhelmed by the financial and technical support they have received from the CBL through its unprecedented loan initiative under the leadership of Dr. Mills Jones.“Studies of performance for Liberian businesses after you took over as Governor of the CBL up to present reveal significant transformations in contrast to the past,” he said. “Liberian businesspeople have seen a new day. Access to finance is no longer a major issue; acquisition of skills and knowledge through capacity building is a milestone achievement that is accelerating the growth and expansion of Liberian owned businesses. We must commend you significantly for that,” Governor Jones,” lauded Mr. Chea.Rep. Isaac Roland was among several Liberians who praised the CBL Executive Governor for his loan initiative “that is helping our people significantly”.In response, Dr. Jones expressed his gratitude to the people of Maryland, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Grand Kru Counties for appreciating the work of the CBL. The CBL boss reiterated: “no one, irrespective of his/her geographic location, should see poverty as their destiny or as a badge of honor.” The CBL boss assured rural dwellers that the Bank remains committed to working with the Board of Governors, management and staff for the sustainable transformation of the Liberian economy.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
In support of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, the United States Government, through the U. S. Army Engineers, has completed its third Ebola Treatment Unit in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.Speaking at the tour of the new facility last Friday, Major General Gary Volesky, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, explained that, this is the first Ebola treatment unit built completely by the U.S. Army Engineers to help in caring for Ebola patients.Maj. Gen. Volesky explained that the facility has the capacity of 100 beds. The construction lasted 23 days with the materials being procured both locally and abroad.He expressed gratitude to the Own Your Own community for their collaboration with the U.S. Army and support in the construction of the Ebola treatment unit.According to Maj. Gen. Volesky, “Three of the Ebola treatment units have been completed, including Bomi, Tubmanburg city, Sinje in Grand Cape Mount, and this one in Buchanan, Grand Bassa. A total of 17 Ebola units are expected to be built across Liberia.”Also speaking, the Head of Ebola Disaster Assistant Response Team (DART) from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mia Beers, said they are currently working to ensure the first 15 Ebola treatment units are built across Liberia. She explained that due to the nature of the epidemic in Liberia, the U.S. Government is focusing on building the first 15 units but will make sure that ETUs are in all of the counties to support the fight against Ebola.“We want to make sure that these Ebola treatment units are built in the 15 counties to help access rural areas and make sure that we follow the transmission of the outbreak in all parts of Liberia and be able to fight it.”Ms. Beers said they are working with the Government of Liberia, especially with the new strategies of fighting Ebola with emphasis on rural areas on how to put in place mechanisms to contain the virus.She further explained that the most important thing is to have a rapid team out there working with county officials to ensure that every county can respond as quickly as possible to any outbreak in the area.She continued, “We have different ETU plans in the Southeast, including Fish Town, Greenville, River Cess, most importantly to look at health strategizes in the various counties in the fight against Ebola. Rapid teams can really help us in the process. We are chasing after the suspected cases also in the southeastern areas, because they are hard to reach. “We are getting the rapid team setups from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the various county officials, and other partners as well as air transport to handle these cases.”The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Brig/Gen Daniel Ziankahn, said they are working in collaboration with the U.S. Army in supporting the fight against the Ebola virus, including the construction of Ebola Treatment Units across Liberia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
It has now become officially pronounced that most of the rape cases in the country, especially against teenagers and children are perpetrated by people who call themselves teachers. Others, according to Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell, are people who the victims personally know within their communities. The Liberian Government has categorized this group of people, notably male teachers, “prime molesters of children in the country,” Min. Cassell said.“These are the same people the children usually call fathers, uncles and big brothers in the homes and communities,” the Minister added.But one thing she regretted is that the molesters, many of whom are convicted and jailed, will still surface in the classrooms and communities with many people unaware of what had actually happened and who these people are. “So this is now the time to name and shame these people in their own community. This will also help the communities to know who these people are. They are not just teachers, uncles, fathers or grandpas, but also rapists,” she stressed.Minister Cassell spoke during a two-day Cabinet Retreat held on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s farm in Julijuah, Bomi County. She gave a status update on the new Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Post-Ebola Executive Plan by her ministry.The retreat was held on Tuesday and Wednesday. It brought together all Cabinet Members, Deputy and Assistant Ministers, Heads of State-owned Enterprises, Agencies, Commissions and Board Chairpersons, with government stressing the importance of restarting all projects that were suspended due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus epidemic.The retreat was intended to align the Cabinet with Government’s priorities and develop an agenda to drive the Administration.The Gender and Social Protection boss’ comments come as the crime of rape seems to be persistently on the rise in the country. She said her Ministry is embarking on an information strategy that would help victims get prompt medical attention. She also proposed several measures through which molesters should be brought to their knees.Min. Cassell told President Sirleaf and others present at the retreat that with support from UNICEF and Save the Children, the Ministry is embarking on a program intended to coordinate information relating to rape and other crimes against women and children. She noted that the coordination is especially needed between the police, the Ministry, health facilities and the community.“We have trained community people about how to report cases. The first place to report is the police. Once it is reported to the police, the police will inform us and then we will send social workers there. So the first information we get is from the police. When we get the information from the police, we send in social workers to handle the situation.“Once these people have been charged, I think we can still name and shame them in the communities, but they come out of jail and go back and start teaching again. Most of the perpetrators are teachers, and people the victims know. I’m sorry if you are a teacher and you are out there, but most of the cases we have with the little children are teachers who sat the children on their laps.”Minister Cassell noted that until the country can have more female teachers back in the classrooms, male teachers will continue to carry out these atrocious activities. The Minister also enumerated a several interventions being initiated by her Ministry at various boarding schools, including Ricks Institute, Bromley and others to ensure that girls are adequately protected.President Sirleaf said that the rape situation in the country, especially involving little children, is very alarming and the government and its partners need to take the situation very seriously. She recommended that one of the means through which these molesters could be brought to their knees is by printing images on billboards on the streets.“There should be big posters and billboards with the caption “Wanted for Rape” placed along all the streets of major cities and towns with the photographs and names of the perpetrators of the crime in the country. We have to do something; it is really bad and becoming very serious in our country,” the President lamented.The Minister of Justice suggested that government establish a database for child molesters with their information such as names, photos and all other particulars that are tracked for monitoring. “This is done in other countries to monitor these kinds of people. Whenever they apply for jobs or wherever they go, people or employers will try to trace their records. With this, I think we will help minimize or eradicate this menace in our country,” suggested the Justice Minister.The Liberian leader described this suggestion as very brilliant and said government would look at that critically. “I want to thank you, that is a constructive and very positive suggestion,” she responded.A brutal rape case, which is now under a barrage of public condemnation, recently occurred in the country. On Sunday, January 18, in the Moulton Corner Community of Brewerville, a teenage girl was raped and brutally assaulted by a man she was able to identify before she died. The alleged perpetrator is one Musa Kanneh, a resident of the community. Officers of Liberia National Police (LNP) have also been implicated for denying passage through a checkpoint of the vehicle that was carrying the victim to a health facility for immediate treatment.In another related development the government has announced that Defendant, Foday Kanneh, 39, has been found guilty of Statutory Rape of a 13 year old victimAccording to a communication from the offices of the Solicitor General of Liberia, a petit juror sitting in the case Republic of Liberia V. Foday Kanneh, in Criminal Court E, at the Temple of Justice, on Tuesday January 20th brought down a unanimous guilty verdict against Kanneh. Final judgment and sentence, are however, expected to be announced next week.Narrating how the incident occurred in her communication, the SG said the incident occurred in the Konneh Community, Senjeh District, Tubmanburg, Bomi County, on December 2nd, 2013, when the 13 year old victim was sent by her mother to take food to the wife of the Defendant, but his wife was not home.“The Defendant asked the victim to take the food inside his bedroom but the victim refused to do so. While the victim was trying to leave, he whisked her, put his hand over her mouth, and forcibly pulled her into his children’s room, had sexual intercourse with her, gave her LD50.00, and told her that if she told anyone he would kill her.”The victim went home and did not tell anyone for fear that the defendant would kill her. A few days after when the victim’s father went to use the restroom he realized that there was blood in the commode.When he asked the mother of the victim she said she did not know how the blood got there. When her mother asked the victim, she broke down in tears and told her mother what the Defendant had done to her.She was taken to the police station and then to the hospital where she was examined and it was confirmed that her hymen was broken and torn from the middle in many directions. The victim was treated for over two weeks because she continued to bleed.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
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.