Partial view representatives of 26 African countries n Liberia attending a three-day Capacity Building Workshop of July 26-28 in Monrovia Representatives of 26 African countries are in Liberia attending a three-day Capacity Building Workshop for the third edition of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Tax Outlook Publication.

According to a press release, the three-day workshop, being hosted by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) is highlighting means of improving cross-country comparison and benchmarking comparable data on tax policies and tax administration and related legislations, among others.

The gathering seeks to provide analysis of tax data trends and identify good practices as well as understanding of the Tax Outlook Publication data collection processes. Addressing the opening session on Wednesday, LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba describes the workshop as a critical milestone of the African journey in providing high quality and reliable statistical data on tax administration covering the continent.

She praises ATAF for spearheading such initiative, noting that it will further enhance the collection and compilation of accurate tax data in Africa. The LRA boss also points out that the hosting of the workshop in Liberia demonstrates the importance of statistics in tax administrations and the vital role it plays in informing public policy decision.

She urges participants to dedicate their attentions in acquiring the requisite skills with the aim to improve the level of revenue collection across the Africa region. For her part, the Director of Research of ATAF, Dr. Nara Monkam, indicates that the training is aimed at enhancing revenue administration in the region through knowledge and experience sharing and comparison analysis.

She notes that the event is also a means of preparing for the third African Outlook Publication, which highlights factual and evidence-based statistics on all tax related matters on the African continent. The workshop will climax with the tour of the LRA Headquarters on Friday, January 28, in Paynesville. Press Release

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning or MFDP has strongly rejected a local daily’s report of a potential US$41 million dollars deficit for the just ended fiscal year 2016/2017.

In a press statement issued here Thursday, 20 July the ministry ays its attention has been drawn to the Tuesday, July 18, 2017 Edition of the FrontPage Africa Newspaper in which the paper erroneously reported a potential US$41 million dollars deficit for the just ended 2016/2017 fiscal year, not on the basis of factual reporting, but on account of “reliable or financial experts.”

The release says the paper based its story on an unsubstantiated year-end fiscal reconciliation report of the consolidated account, indicating a wrong year-end revenue collection of US$522million and US$42 million as potential deficit; even though, the year-end expenditure estimate needed for accurately determining deficit or surplus was not mentioned.

The release claims the paper further suggested that the deficit could increase to US$50 million if US$4million payment for the Executive Mansion renovation and US$6million payment to George Haddad’s Prestige Motors were made, which it maintains, are all concoction of a “financial expert’s” imagination.
It explains that the Budget year FY16/17 successfully ended with a surplus of US$1.8 million brought forward to the FY17/18 budget, which has been approved by the Lower House and awaiting concurrence by the Upper House of the National Legislature.

According to the Ministry, Gross Revenue collected at end June 30th, 2017 is estimated at US$550.8 million, saying “This amount net of the ECOWAS Trade Levy of US$3.2 million brings the net revenue available to GoL at US$547.57 million. This fact contradicts FrontPage reported net revenue amount of US$522 million.”

The release further refutes allegation that Finance and Development Planning Minister Boimah Kamara has usurped the allotment functions of the Deputy Minister for Budget and Development Planning, and is not holding weekly Fiscal Management Team meetings with senior technicians regarding the formulation and execution of the national budget.

“In keeping with supervisory oversight of every department to ensure proper and accountable usage of tax payer money; it says, “Minister Kamara has instituted several reforms including the following:

The authorization of allotments to spending entities still remains a function of the Deputy Minister of Budget, but with the expressed approval of the Minister as provided under the PFM Act. The procedures for allotments, which are the first layer for authorizing, spending from the National Budget, have been revised to effectively minimize unauthorized allotments;

In tracking the execution of the national budget with respect to revenue performance and expenditure monitoring, the Minister still holds regular Fiscal Management Team (FMT) meetings with senior technicians of the MFDP and the Liberia Revenue Authority to discuss various fiscal reports and reconcile the financial position of the Government of Liberia. These meetings are in addition to regular Senior Management Team (SMT) meetings and general staff meetings aimed at cultivating a working culture that promotes team spirit and effectiveness.

The MFDP release says in the fight against corruption, the current management team is on record for improving systems and controls within the Ministry and taking punitive action against individuals caught in the act of misuse of entrusted public resources.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning encourages media entities to seek clarifications on news relating to government’s fiscal operations from relevant authorities within the MFDP before publications. The Ministry cautions against spreading false news, especially on fiscal operations of government because it has the propensity to undermine the economic viability of the State by scaring away potential investments and development assistance. Press Release

Hmmm, I wonder this is why Ellen snubs Boakai
-Varney Sherman is cranked on front row

L-R) seen side face is Senator Sherman cranked on front row, follow by Mrs. Sherman, With Joe Boakai and Mrs. Boakai

Ruling Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai did not deliver his well-prepared speech to partisans and supporters trucked from the various counties under the heavy down pour of rain on Saturday September 16 during the launch of the party’s campaign.

To say whether they were disappointed or not is to say the least, after all they were well taken care of for their attendance.

All the ruling party presidential candidate could say was thank you to partisans who had waited under the heavy rain to hear from him. He later referred them to members of the media to whom copies of the long speech were given for broadcast and dissimilation.

The speech mentioned President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who had something else on her agenda that is to break ground for a clinic in her village just once- that is to say thank you.

However, a review of Mr. Boakai’s undelivered speech that was later shared on social media by his partisans and supporters takes up some time to walk voters through achievements of the UP led- government, while pointing to prospects for increase improvement here depending on Liberians’ choice of picking a “novice or an experienced manager” to lead the country further.

“After just 12 years, the budget today stands at 563 million USD. Liberia has emerged from the ashes of war and the prospects for increased improvement are high depending on whose hands you put the country to lead--a novice or an experienced manager,” Mr. Boakai says.

Outlining his priorities when elected president this October, Mr. Boakai names infrastructure and agriculture sectors as the most crucial aspects of transforming Liberia. According to Mr. Boakai, agriculture will be the primary development goal of the UP led- government, side-by-side with roads because of their capacity to bring about growth and employment.

He says if government is going to change the lives of Liberians dramatically and if one thing will move poor people from poverty to the middle class in large numbers, he believes that it will be investment in these two sectors.

“And let me be specific to emphasize roads. Roads will create access to health, agriculture, and education. I intend to utilize our God-given natural resources to connect the county capitals to major commercial cities, district capitals to chiefdoms, by paved roads and then to clans and then to villages and farms,” says Boakai.

The UP presidential candidate tells Liberians that the economic climate that the country is transitioning to will be different from the immediate post war one, noting that all Liberians must prepare for stringent disciplined processes and austerity measures in his government’s financial management.

“There is no success without sacrifice,” he says, adding that the integrity institutions here will be given teeth to help end the culture of corruption and impunity that are immense constraints on building an enabling investment climate.

While arguing that corruption is due to greed and selfishness and it poisons whatever it touches, Mr. Boakai warns that if people steal government money, they will be punished severely and face restitution.

He also seeks a smaller size of government, and a more transparent, accountable, and efficient governance.

He gives credit to Liberians for the peaceful environment the country enjoys during the 12 years, and further gives them hope that Liberia will get much better because Liberians are all in this together.

According to the UP presidential candidate, much of the nation’s capital has access to electricity and running water today under the UP led - government, and there are more functioning universities and community colleges than ever before.

In addition to the unprecedented grade school enrollment that he says is being experienced here, Mr. Boakai observes that greater numbers of Liberians are today receiving higher education than ever before.

“Besides, this Administration has paved 750 kilometers of roads, more kilometers than any of its predecessors. Today, a journey from Monrovia to Buchanan that took more than 5 hours in 2006 can now take you one hour and half,” he says.

Back in 2006, he recalls that Liberia’s national budget was $86 million USD, noting that it now stands at $563 million USD after just 12 years.

In an effort to persuade voters here to vote him to the presidency after incumbent President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf, Mr. Boakai tells partisans and supporters that elections are not just about the past or present, but largely about the future.

“My development agenda is driven by how I got here and the empathy that it gives me. I am an ordinary Liberian. When you elect me as your President, I will be the first janitor and rubber tapper to make it to the highest office in the land,” the Vice President says.

Having recounted his life as a schoolboy who worked as janitor at CWA to pay his school fees back in those days, the UP torch bearer says he remained resilient and strong and eventually made it through high school and college.

“These life struggles were God’s way of teaching me the challenges ordinary people face daily. This will certainly make me quite a different President – the standard bearer for the cook, the taxi driver, the babysitter, the janitor, the motorbike rider, the yana boy, rubber tapper, and the farmer,” he promises in the unread speech.

As the Vice President, he says he learned what worked well and what did not work so well, and which steps “took us forward and which ones kept us from moving forward.”

He boasts that it is clear that he will not have a learning curve about how to govern a failed state, rather noting that he will have an execution, and implementation curve.

He touches on manufacturing, imbedded with value-addition, saying it will also be a fundamental part of his vision so that it enables Liberians to benefit from the country’s God-given natural resources including rubber, iron ore, timber, and other products before they are exported from Liberia.

He sees such methods as useful in creating more and better paying jobs for Liberians, in an effort to get citizens own shares in the country’s mineral ventures.

“I will work to ensure that manufacturing becomes a normal part of our development process supported by investment in solar energy and other sustainable production approaches which will make electrical energy available to our people at the village level,” Boakai promises.

He vows to curb drug use in his administration, addiction and teen pregnancy, which he says increase delinquency and crime, using diverse prevention and treatment programs.

“The name “zogos” must disappear from our life. We cherish all of our people and therefore cannot continue to think that some of us are disposable people called zogos. I consider them as potentially productive citizens who stand in need of our help,” Boakai says.

While promising that nurses, doctors, lab technicians, public health professionals and other healthcare workers will receive similar attention and incentives, Mr. Boakai adds that all of “us” will attend the same hospitals, except in cases beyond the capacity of the medical facilities here.

Businessman-turned Presidential hopeful Benoni Webster Urey clarifies here that two real estates in the United States bearing his name are not actually his, but his daughter’s. Speaking to the New Dawn on Monday, 18 September he further clarifies that the estates, one located at 8500 Goshen View Drive with a current value of $562,400.00 and another in Silver Spring located at 3000 Parker Avenue valued at $268,300 in the State of Maryland, the United States were actually purchased in 1981 by his sister Linda Urey, and subsequently acquired by his daughter, also based in the United States.

This paper did not establish which of his daughter, Mr. Urey said the properties in question were never placed under the UN assets freeze because they were acquired long before the Liberian civil war.

Earlier reports gathered by this paper indicate that the properties were purchased between 1999 and 2000, the same period when Mr. Urey served as Commissioner of the Liberia Bureau of Maritime now Liberia Maritime Authority. But Mr. Urey, who is vying for the presidency in the upcoming elections as standard bearer of his own All Liberian Party (ALP) says the estates were acquired long before the Taylor regime, which spanned from 1997 to 2003.

Mr. Urey was placed on United Nations travel ban along with several other close associates of Mr. Taylor after the ex-president and warlord was indicted and subsequently arrested by the UN-backed Special Court of Sierra Leone for supporting RUF rebels.However, the UN removed his name from travel ban subsequently and declared him a peaceful Liberian who poses no threat to the country’s stability, a declaration that inspires him to run for the presidency.

He clarifies that the properties in the United States were never included on the UN sanction list.The ALP strong man laments that too long Liberia has suffered bad leadership, thereby leaving the citizens to suffer despite the presence of huge natural resources, so he is seeking the presidency to fix the country’s problems.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Thousands of residents in Lofa County have welcomed opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) presidential candidate Senator George M. Weah and his running mate Sen. Jewel Howard-Taylor.

Lofa County is presumed to be ruling Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s political stronghold. "Some have said that this is their stronghold. But today, this huge gathering of people, some of whom have been here since this morning, can attest to you that we love you. We have followed your records for years and we can say here today, that you are the most qualified candidate to succeed President Sirleaf in this election," said Joseph Kollie on behalf of residents in in Salayea District.

The CDC stormed the county last week, visiting some of the major towns and villages during a campaign tour there. The visit extended to Zorzor, Kolahun and Voinjama City where Mr. Weah and Mrs. Taylor were gowned by traditional chiefs and elders for [their contribution to] peace in Liberia.

Earlier, citizens who assembled at the bridge connecting Lofa and Bong in Salayea, told Sen. Weah and his entourage that they strongly believed that the CDC can better lead Liberia after President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf leaves office.

Joseph Kollie, speaking on behalf of residents in Salayea District, lamented that for more than 12 years, the UP - led government has fooled “us.” Mr. Kollie complained to Mr. Weah that the UP government promised residents of Lofa on many days that their roads would be fixed.

Having voted the party with the hope that the UP government would have fulfilled those promises, he claims that the government failed to give its citizens in Lofar better roads and better life for 12 years.

During the meeting with Mr. Weah, residents of Salayea District named the former soccer star "Human Magnet" and “Kolubah” for his ability to command a huge following wherever he goes.

Before arriving in the county, Senator Weah and his running mate Senator Taylor held several community engagements with motorcyclists and marketeers in Gbarnga and other villages in Bong County where he assured them his commitment to better the lives of his people if elected to the Presidency of Liberia.

While in Lofa, Senator Weah continued his message of reconciliation and a lasting peace in every village and town that he visited. He stressed that he is the only candidate that has the charisma to unite the country and better the lives of its citizens.

"I have repeatedly said to my supporters across this country and the media that my singular aim of joining politics is to transform the lives of my people and unite my country. For twelve years, they held you in captivity,” Mr. Weah said.

Under his leadership, he says Liberians will no longer starve, repeatedly promising them better life with abundant opportunities. Senator Weah vows to prioritize road connection in Lofa, stressing that only a better road connection can restore the county's record of being "the food basket" of Liberia.

He also told the citizens of Lofa that his administration will embark on rigorous reforms in the healthcare and education sectors across the country. "This is the time that we must stop the Unity Party (UP). Under our administration, we will promote better education across Liberia. We will pay the WAEC fees for all students across Liberia. My administration will also ensure that our healthcare services are accessible and affordable to every citizen across this country,” he said.

Mr. Weah dreams of a Liberia where government will be footing most of the bills for patients, and a country where people will no longer die as a result of their inability to receive better healthcare service for curable diseases.

Under a CDC administration, Mr. Weah says government will do everything to empower its people and make the country a better place for all. Mr. Weah who has had controversial voting stories in past elections, has used the occasion to educate voters here on how they should cast their votes on 10 October. He encourages Liberians to turn out in their numbers to vote for him at the 17th spot on the ballot paper, in order to stop the UP-led government from succeeding itself.

E.J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was conspicuously absence from the Unity Party campaign rally over the weekend, with a spokesman saying that she had a prior engagement to break ground for a clinic in Suehn Mecca District in Bomi County.

Her absence at the beleaguered ruling party campaign launch which saw thousands of supporters trucked from Bong, Ganta, Capemount, Bomi and Margibi County to showcase its crowd strength left many of Boakai’s sympathizers bemoaning that the president has left their man in the cold.

Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, who recently resigned his post as UP Secretary General told this writer Sunday that Mrs. Sirleaf had earlier announced her prior engagement days before the rally.

Minister Nagbe further argues that Mrs. Sirleaf did not want to steal the show from Vice President Boakai, saying that it was his moment. On Friday Executive Mansion correspondents were told that the President had scheduled a program at her farm in Jule Juah, Bomi County. The reporters were again informed that the program had been re-scheduled for Saturday September 16, the same day of the UP launch. But they were later informed on Saturday that only Executive Mansion photographers were now needed to cover the even.

Earlier in the week, the Executive Mansion issued a release announcing a 2-day International Retreat on the Sustainable Development Goals. The retreat had been scheduled to kick-off from Friday September 15-17, the same weekend the UP had scheduled its rally.

“The Secretariat of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in collaboration with the International Research Forum, from London UK, will this weekend (September 15-17) hold an international retreat on the Sustainable Development Goals on the theme: “Achieving the SDGs’ vision of equity, growth and resilience in Africa through regional cooperation;” A regional retreat for government planning officials and non-governmental partners.

According to a release from the Secretariat, the two-day retreat will bring together government officials from several ministries, academia, civil society organizations, and the private sector. Participants hail from various African countries and institutions including Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Tunisia, Rwanda, South Africa, the Pan African Parliament, ECOWAS, (and) the Africa Center on the SDGs in Kigali among others.” The release said.
The President’s absence from the UP campaign rally comes at a time there are mounting speculations among UP partisans that Mrs. Sirleaf is not in support of Boakai’s presidential bid, something which has been denied over and over by the President’s office and some officials of the party including candidate Boakai himself.

But what remains to be seen is whether President Sirleaf, Boakai and former party chairman Senator Varney Sherman are ready to sit together in public.
Sen. Sherman has insisted that Vice President Joseph Boakai doesn’t need Mrs. Sirleaf’s support to win the 2017 presidential race. Of course, it is left with the conscience of Mr. Boakai to distance himself from Sherman’s rant against the president, something he is yet to publicly denounce.

Boakai who came to his own rally late could not read out his prepared text. He arrived at the Antoinette Tubman Sports Stadium when many of the UP supporters who have braved the heavy down pour of rain on Saturday were already tired of waiting and were now leaving. The unread text was distributed among media houses at the rally for subsequent publications and broadcast.

By Othello B. Garblah


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