Donald Trump’s Federal Reserve

CAMBRIDGE – With the appointment of Jerome Powell as the next Chair of the United States Federal Reserve Board, Donald Trump has made perhaps the most important single decision of his presidency. It is a sane and sober choice that heralds short-term continuity in Fed interest-rate policy, and perhaps a simpler and cleaner approach to regulatory policy.

Although Powell is not a PhD economist like current Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, he has used his years as an “ordinary” governor at the Fed to gain a deep knowledge of the key issues he will face. But make no mistake: the institution Powell will now head rules the global financial system. All other central bankers, finance ministers, and even presidents run a distant second.

If that seems hyperbolic, it is only because most of us don’t really pay attention to the Fed on a day-to-day basis. When the Fed gets it right, price stability reigns, unemployment remains low, and output hums along. But “getting it right” is not always easy, and when the Fed gets it wrong, the results can be pretty ugly.

Famously, the Fed’s efforts to tame a stock-market bubble in the late 1920s sparked the Great Depression of the 1930s. (Fortunately, of the candidates Trump was considering for the Fed post, Powell is the one least likely to repeat this mistake.) And when the Fed printed mountains of money in the 1970s to try to dull the pain of that decade’s oil shocks, it triggered an inflationary surge that took more than a decade to tame.

At times, the rest of the world seems to care more about Fed policy than Americans do. Little wonder: perhaps more than ever, the US dollar lies at the heart of the global financial system. This is partly because much of world trade and finance is indexed to the dollar, leading many countries to try to mimic Fed policies to stabilize their exchange rates.

Powell will face some extraordinary challenges at the outset of his five-year term. By some measures, stock markets look even frothier today than they did in the 1920s. With today’s extraordinarily low interest rates, investors seem ever more willing to assume greater risk in search of return.

At the same time, despite a strongly growing US and global economy, inflation remains mystifyingly low. This has made it extremely difficult for the Fed to normalize policy interest rates (still only 1%) so that it has room to cut them when the next recession hits, which it inevitably will. (The odds of a recession hitting in any given year are around 17%, and that seems like a good guess now.)

If Powell and the Fed cannot normalize interest rates before the next recession, what will they do? Yellen insists that there is nothing to worry about; the Fed has everything under control, because it can turn to alternative instruments. But many economists have come to believe that much of this is smoke and mirrors.

For example, so-called quantitative easing involves having the Fed issue short-term debt to buy up long-term government debt. But the US Treasury owns the Fed, and can carry out such debt purchases perfectly well by itself.

Some argue for “helicopter money,” whereby the Fed prints money and hands it out. But this, too, is smoke and mirrors. The Fed has neither the legal authority nor the political mandate to run fiscal policy; if it tries to do so, it runs the risk of forever losing its independence.

Given that monetary policy is the first and best line of defense against a recession, an urgent task for the new chair is to develop a better approach. Fortunately, good ideas exist, and one can only hope that Powell will quickly move to create a committee to study long-term fixes.

One idea is to raise the Fed’s inflation target. But this would be problematic, not least because it would breach a decades-long promise to keep inflation around 2%. Moreover, higher inflation would induce greater indexation, ultimately undermining the effectiveness of monetary policy. Paving the way for effective negative-interest-rate policy is a more radical – but by far the more elegant – solution.

Bank regulation is also part of the Fed’s mandate. The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-reform legislation, which has spawned 30,000 pages of rules, has been a boon for lawyers. But the massive compliance costs ultimately fall on small and medium-size businesses. It would be far better simply to require banks to raise much more of their resources in equity markets instead of through bonds. That way, shareholders, not taxpayers, would take the big hit in a crisis.

I have not mentioned the elephant in the room: the threat to the Fed’s independence posed by a president seemingly intent on challenging all institutional norms. When President Richard Nixon was intent on being re-elected in 1972, he put heavy pressure on then-Fed Chair Arthur Burns to “juice” the economy. Nixon was re-elected, but inflation soared and growth collapsed. No one should be wishing for a replay – even if Nixon eventually was impeached.

Kenneth Rogoff, a former chief economist of the IMF, is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University.

By Kenneth Rogoff

Cybersecurity Starts at the Top

LONDON – Every time a major corporate cybersecurity breach occurs, the response looks pretty much the same: cry “havoc!” and call in the cyber first responders to close the breach. But by the time an executive or two stands before a few government committees, proffering some explanation and pledging to beef up security protocols, people – including the hackers – have largely moved on. And with each breach, the cycle accelerates: people either dismiss the threat – it probably won’t happen to them – or accept it as an unavoidable pitfall of modern life.

The truth is that the threat posed by cybersecurity breaches is both acute and avoidable. The key to mitigating it is to understand that cybersecurity isn’t simply a technology issue; it is also an urgent strategic issue that should be at the top of the agenda for every board and management team. After all, from Yahoo! to Equifax, data breaches have often been rooted in internal forces of human error, carelessness, or even maliciousness.

Already, the scale and speed of attacks is massive. It has now emerged that the 2013 Yahoo! data breach affected all three billion accounts. In May, the WannaCry ransomworm attack affected dozens of the UK’s National Health Service trusts, and spread globally at lightning speed.

The recently revealed Equifax data breach – which occurred during two months when the company had a patch to a known security vulnerability, but hadn’t applied it – gave the hackers access to 145.5 million consumers’ personal and sensitive data. According to testimony provided by now-former Equifax CEO Richard F. Smith to the US Congress, the breach reflected the negligence of one individual in the IT department.

The risks are only growing. The United Kingdom’s National Cybersecurity Centre, founded last year, has already responded to nearly 600 significant incidents. The department’s director recently predicted that our first “category one cyber-incident” would occur in the next few years.

One problem is that many organizations simply don’t have cyber-security on their radar. They believe they are too small to be a target, or that such breaches are limited to the tech and finance sectors. But, just recently, the US fast-food chain Sonic – not exactly a tech giant – revealed that a malware attack on some of its drive-in outlets may have allowed hackers to secure customers’ credit card information.

The fact is that many types of companies use, if not depend on, technology. And they collect many types of data, about everything from customers and employees to distribution systems and transactions. Consumers often don’t comprehend the extent of companies’ data collection, failing to understand even the basics of the “cookies” being used when they surf the web. According to a March 2017 report by the Pew Research Center, many Americans, for example, “are unclear about some key cybersecurity topics, terms, and concepts.”

Of course, consumers must be informed and vigilant about their own data. But even those who are, find that if they want to engage fully in modern life, they have little choice but to hand over personal data to organizations in both the private and public sectors, from utility and finance companies to hospitals and tax authorities.

With automation, this trend will only accelerate, with people counting on technology to do everything from ordering groceries to turning on the lights and even locking the doors. The power this gives to the likes of Google and Amazon, not to mention an ever-growing array of startups, is obvious. What is not obvious is that consumers can rely on companies’ knowledge and duty of care to protect the information they collect.

No company can afford a laissez faire attitude about cybersecurity. Yet even tech companies took some time to recognize the extent of their technical responsibilities, including the need for a C-level executive to manage their technology needs. Not long ago, such companies often maintained a “helpdesk” mindset: just make sure people could use the product and have someone to call if something went wrong.

But, with data breaches proliferating, often with business-critical consequences, there is no excuse for such inertia. Such breaches can cripple companies both operationally and financially, owing to the direct theft of funds or intellectual property and the cost of plugging the security hole or paying punitive fines. They can also diminish a company’s reputation and credibility among investors, business partners, and communities, even in cases when the breach is minor and doesn’t compromise sensitive information.

While board members do not all have to be technology experts, they do need to keep up with the state of their company’s technology, including how well secured it is. A board’s risk committee can conduct in-depth reviews. But regular status updates to the full board, like those for other crucial issues affecting the business, are also needed.

In today’s world, no organization – public or private, commercial or non-profit – has an excuse not to be supremely vigilant and pro-active about securing their data and systems. It is not enough to meet legal requirements, which don’t keep up with technological change. Instead, those requirements should be viewed as a starting point for a much more robust, closely monitored, and effectively adapted system that truly protects the data on which our societies and economies increasingly depend. Data breaches are not a fact of modern life. They are an artifact of modern indifference.

Lucy P. Marcus is CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting.

By Lucy P. Marcus

The Turn of the Kurds

NEW YORK – Returns show a high percentage of Iraq’s estimated eight million Kurds turned out to vote in a referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region and other areas of the country with a substantial Kurdish population. An even higher proportion of voters – reported to be above 90% – voted yes. Much of the world, though, is unsympathetic, and statehood in today’s world depends on recognition by other states. So what happens now?

To be sure, there is not and should not be any automatic right of self-determination. It was one thing for people in colonies ruled by governments thousands of miles away and deprived of many of their rights to opt for independence in the wake of World War II. It is something else altogether for a region to secede from an existing independent country. A world of frequent secession would be in even greater disarray than the world we already have.

The question then naturally arises: under what circumstances should leaders and populations seeking to leave one country and establish their own be supported? There is no universally accepted set of standards, but let me suggest some that should be applied:

• A history that indicates a clear collective identity for the people in question.

• A compelling rationale, in the sense that the population must be able to demonstrate that the status quo is imposing a large political, physical, and economic price.

• The population makes clear that it strongly favors a new and separate political status.

• The new state is viable (the last thing the world needs are more failed states).

• Secession does not jeopardize the viability of the rump state or the security of neighboring states.

By these standards, there is a persuasive case for Kurdish independence. The Kurds have a strong sense of collective history and national identity, and failed to achieve statehood after WWI through no fault of their own – even though the case for it was as persuasive as those of other groups whose national hopes were satisfied. The Kurds of Iraq suffered greatly (including being attacked with chemical weapons) at the hands of Saddam Hussein’s regime. An independent Kurdistan has the potential to be economically viable, given its energy reserves. And Iraq without Kurdistan would still be viable, as would other neighboring countries.

Nonetheless, the desire of the Kurds in northern Iraq for a country of their own is mostly being resisted. Iraq’s central government, worried about the loss of territory and significant oil reserves, strongly opposes Kurdish secession. Turkey, Iran, and Syria all oppose Kurdish independence anywhere, fearing that their own Kurdish minorities could be “infected” by the “virus” of Kurdish statehood and seek to break away and create a state of their own or join the new Kurdish entity carved from Iraq.

Iraq’s central government has threatened to close its airspace to planes flying to or from the Kurdish region. And Turkey has threatened to cut off the pipeline on which Kurdistan relies to export oil. The danger in such moves is that the viability of the new entity (which would be landlocked) could be jeopardized, not to mention the risk of military clashes.

The United States opposes Kurdish independence, concerned that the opposition of the neighboring states could fuel further turmoil in an already turbulent Middle East. But it is also true that the Kurds meet many of the criteria for statehood, operate a political system with democratic features, and have been a loyal and effective ally against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. And the opposition of an illiberal Turkey, an imperial Iran, an Iraq heavily influenced by Iran, and a Syrian regime that owes its survival to Iranian and Russian military intervention strengthens the geopolitical argument for Kurdish statehood.

One option for the US and the European Union (which has been similarly cool to the idea of Kurdish independence) would be to support or participate in negotiations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government in Baghdad. Such talks could aim for a compromise over how resources and territory might be divided or shared. Parallel talks involving Turkey and the KRG could address both economic and security concerns.

The US and the EU should also make clear that any support on their part for Kurdish separatism is not a precedent for others. There are already more than 190 countries, and the emergence of new ones is neither simple nor straightforward. Each situation needs to be judged on its merits. Groups have every right to participate in the determination of their future, but not to decide it by themselves. The Kurds of Iraq have made their preference known; it is neither fair nor sustainable to refuse to take their goal seriously.

Richard N. Haass is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of A World in Disarray: American Foreign policy and the Crisis of the Old Order.

By Richard N. Haass

Le tour des Kurdes

NEW YORK – Les résultats montrent qu’un pourcentage important des huit millions de Kurdes d’Irak ont participé au référendum sur l’indépendance du Kurdistan autonome et des territoires du pays à forte population kurde. Une proportion plus importante encore d’électeurs – qui serait supérieure à 90 % – ont voté oui. L’hostilité internationale, pourtant, est à peu près générale et, dans le monde d’aujourd’hui, un État ne peut se constituer qu’à condition d’être reconnu par les autres. Que va-t-il donc se passer ?

Il n’existe pas – et il ne saurait bien entendu exister – de droit automatique à l’autodétermination. Ce fut une chose pour les peuples colonisés, gouvernés par des États distants de milliers de kilomètres et privés d’une grande part de leurs droits, d’adopter l’indépendance au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre mondiale ; c’en est une autre pour une région de se séparer d’un pays souverain. Un monde où de telles sécessions se multiplieraient serait plus désemparé encore que celui dans lequel nous vivons déjà.

Une question, dès lors, survient : dans quelles circonstances doit-on soutenir des dirigeants et des populations qui cherchent à se détacher d’un pays pour créer le leur ? S’il n’existe pas de critères universellement acceptés, qu’il me soit permis d’en suggérer quelques-uns :

• Une histoire attestant l’identité collective incontestable du peuple en question ;

• • Un fondement incontournable, à savoir que la population doit être capable de prouver que le prix politique, physique et économique
 du statu quo est trop élevé ;

• Le choix clair de la population en faveur d’un statut politique nouveau et distinct ;

• La viabilité du nouvel État (la prolifération des États faillis est la dernière chose dont le monde a besoin) ;

• Une scission qui ne remette en cause ni la viabilité du reste de l’État partitionné ni la sécurité des États voisins.

À l’aune de ces critères, les arguments en faveur de l’indépendance kurde sont convaincants. Les Kurdes ont une conscience aiguë de leur histoire collective et un fort sentiment d’identité nationale. Leur échec à créer un État après la Première Guerre mondiale ne peut leur être imputé : leurs raisons étaient aussi légitimes que celles d’autres groupes dont les aspirations nationales ont été satisfaites. Les Kurdes d’Irak ont terriblement souffert du régime de Saddam Hussein (qui eut recours contre eux aux armes chimiques). Un Kurdistan indépendant, étant donné ses réserves énergétiques, aurait les capacités de sa viabilité économique. Et l’Irak sans le Kurdistan demeurerait viable, tout comme les pays voisins.

Malgré cela, le souhait des Kurdes du nord de l’Irak d’obtenir leur propre État se heurte à une résistance quasi générale. Le gouvernement central irakien, inquiet de cette perte de territoires et des importantes réserves de pétrole qui y sont attachées, s’oppose fortement à une sécession kurde. La Turquie, l’Iran et la Syrie refusent tous et partout l’indépendance, craignant que leurs propres minorités kurdes ne soient « contaminées » par le « virus » de l’État kurde et ne cherchent elles aussi à faire sécession pour créer leur propre État ou rejoindre la nouvelle entité kurde détachée de l’Irak.

Le gouvernement central irakien a fermé son espace aérien aux vols à destination de la région kurde ou en provenance de celle-ci. Et la Turquie a menacé de couper l’oléoduc indispensable au Kurdistan pour exporter son pétrole. Le danger de telles initiatives est qu’elles peuvent remettre en cause la viabilité de la nouvelle entité (qui se retrouverait ainsi prisonnière), sans compter les risques d’affrontements armés.

Les États-Unis s’opposent à l’indépendance kurde, inquiets que l’opposition des États voisins n’alimente de nouveaux troubles dans un Moyen-Orient déjà très agité. Mais il est aussi vrai que les Kurdes remplissent de nombreux critères parmi ceux qui font un État, qu’ils se sont doté d’un système politique aux attributs démocratiques, et qu’ils se sont montrés, aussi bien en Irak qu’en Syrie, un allié loyal et efficace contre l’État islamique. Quant à l’opposition d’une Turquie illibérale, d’un Iran impérial, d’un Irak lourdement influencé par l’Iran et d’un régime syrien qui ne doit sa survie qu’aux interventions militaires iranienne et russe, elle renforce encore les arguments géopolitiques en faveur d’un État kurde.

Pour les États-Unis et l’Union européenne (qui a reçu tout aussi fraîchement l’idée d’une indépendance kurde), une option pourrait être de soutenir des négociations entre le Gouvernement régional du Kurdistan (GRK) et le gouvernement irakien à Bagdad, voire d’y participer. Ces discussions pourraient rechercher un compromis sur le partage des ressources et des territoires. Des pourparlers parallèles entre la Turquie et le GRK pourraient aborder les questions économiques et de sécurité.

Les États-Unis et l’Union européenne devraient aussi faire comprendre qu’un soutien de leur part au séparatisme kurde ne saurait constituer un précédent. Il existe aujourd’hui plus de 190 pays, et l’émergence de nouveaux pays n’est jamais simple ni facile. Chaque situation est singulière et doit être jugée comme telle. Tous les groupes ont le droit de participer au choix de leur avenir, mais non de le décider seuls. Les Kurdes d’Irak ont fait connaître leur préférence ; refuser de prendre leur but au sérieux n’est ni juste ni soutenable.

Traduction François Boisivon

Richard N. Haass est président du Council on Foreign Relations. Son dernier livre s’intitule A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order (« Un monde désemparé : la politique étrangère américaine et la crise de l’ordre ancien »).

Par Richard N. Haass

Carter Center makes recommendation to NEC

U.S group Carter Center is calling on the National Election Commission (NEC) to uphold and ensure free, fair, and transparent elections come October 10,2017.

The Carter Center in its press release issue over the weekend offers several recommendations on steps to increase public confidence in the election and flags a few issues that could prove problematic, including several that could be addressed prior to Election Day.

According to Carter Center, NEC should consider using all media and telecommunication options to communicate the availability of the SMS voter list verification tool to voters, which would contribute to the public’s confidence in the quality of the list and help familiarize voters with the location of their polling places.

To further its commitment to transparency, the NEC should publicly post the lists of people selected as polling station staff so that the names may be scrutinized by the community.

The NEC should continue its efforts to explain the tabulation process and the provisions for ensuring adequate access for party agents and observers, and any other safeguards it is implementing.

Further, a clear outline of the planned timetable for releasing results would help prepare political parties and the general public for the days following Election Day.
In order to assure voters that they can cast their ballots free from intimidation and that the secrecy of the vote is fully protected, all parties should refrain from gathering voter identification numbers in the time before Election Day.

In addition, the political parties and the NEC should assure voters that it is not possible to determine how a voter cast his or her ballot based on an identification number, and that persons who have collected voter identification numbers will not be able to determine how a voter cast their ballot.

The NEC should prepare itself to respond to questions about the number of voters who were allowed to vote on Election Day when they showed up with a valid voter registration card but were not on the published list.

The NEC should instruct its staff to strictly enforce the law regarding who is authorized to be present in polling places, Political parties should refrain from releasing parallel results prior to the publication of provisional results by the NEC. Further, both the political parties and the NEC should be clear in informing voters that only results reviewed and released by the NEC are official.--Press release

Lonestar Cell MTN subscriber wins 1,000,000LRD By Lewis S. Teh Liberia’s leading GSM Company, Lonestar Cell MTN, has again put smiles on the faces of its valuable subscribers with a resident of Paynesville City, outside Monrovia Cyrus N. Paye, winnin

Liberia’s leading GSM Company, Lonestar Cell MTN, has again put smiles on the faces of its valuable subscribers with a resident of Paynesville City, outside Monrovia Cyrus N. Paye, winning 1000,000 Liberian Dollars, an equivalent of US$8,300 from its a Mobile Money Raffle draw.

Speaking to reporters over the weekend at the start of the draw held at the company head offices in Oldest Congo Town, Lonestar Cell Mobile Money Manager, Massa Dennis, says the draw was meant to identify with subscribers, who have been active in using mobile money account to transact.

“As you may be aware, the mobile money draw here today marks the company six years since this promotion was launched in 2011, and every September is the month to remember, where many subscribers will have the chance to win many of our valuable prices”, narrates Madam Dennis.

She continues that the company remains Liberia’s leading GSM operator because of the many programs and promotions it is engaged into, saying, “Lonestar Cell MTN is not only in the business of mobile activities, but rather we care about the living conditions of our subscribers, and we also give back to where we operate as a means of providing quality service and promotions”, among others.

Massa says the company uses this medium to say thanks to its many subscribers for trusting and using the services over the years. According to her, “September to remember” is a raffle draw that put together to reward customers every week of September, and that so for in the last three weeks, management has been rewarding customers with fantastic prizes, and “we though to climax this with a mobile money star winner.”

She says management has decided to make the exercise an annual celebration of mobile money Liberia, because of its impact on the lives of the public, and as a way of saying thanks to subscribers. Prizes awarded include bags of rice, television sets, generators, blackberry phones and modern, Argo-oil, but the most memorable prize of all is the one million Liberian Dollars, which obviously is the grand prize.

According to the Mobile Money Manager, the September is not for profit making, but a period to express thanks to the thousands of subscribers across the country.

“I am very excited, and proud of the impact that our service has had on the lives of our customers, and we look forward to having more customers”, Madam Dennis says. For his part, the winner of the grand prize, Mr. Cyrus N. Paye, expresses delight over services being offered by Lonestar Cell MTN, saying, I am proud; I just started using mobile money, but all in all, I am grateful to God, and Lone Star Cell for providing this opportunity to our country.”

Cyrus notes that though he had a little doubt when he received call that he has become a lucky winner.  When I received the call that I won, I was in the midst of some colleagues, and I show them the numbers, they couldn’t believe because there are lot of fake guys in town, calling people to inform them that they won, but I look at the number and decided to give it a try, and it’s a reality, so the service is unique. I want to encourage others to see reason to use it.”

The live draw, held on Power FM, a local radio station in Monrovia, was witnessed by officials from the Liberia National Lottery Authority, including staffs and employees of the company.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

New health center opens in Duala

A new health center intended to address the medical needs of over 25,000 inhabitants of the Borough of New Kru Town, a suburb of Monrovia has been formally opened to the public.

Dedicating the six-bedroom health center on Wednesday, 27 September its proprietor, Mr. James Vezzely says that he decided establishing the facility because of the manner in which his late brother died.

Although Mr. Vezzely did not reveal the name of his deceased brother, but he narrates that his brother was sick and taken to hospital in Monrovia where medical practitioners there informed him that they could not cater to the deceased because of lack of required medication.

He laments that while attempting to transfer his brother to another health facility, he reportedly died right in his hands thereby, leaving him to wonder what is happening to the country’s health system.
According to him, the health center was established to contribute meaningfully to the health recovery process of the country in the wake of the shortage of health facilities in some parts of Liberia.

He says the center, which has one medical doctor and several trained nurses, is prepare to cater to critical medical cases arising out of the community and elsewhere on a 24-hour basic.

Mr. Vezzely further discloses that the government-owned Redemption Hospital in the borough cannot cater to all medical cases taken there, because of the size of its facilities, so there should be other health center to buttress its effort.

He calls on residents of New Kru Town and surrounding communities to take advantage of the center by raking their sick relatives there for medication attention and good services.

By Emmanuel Mondaye

LME launches Capacity Development Plan

The Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy or LME has launched a Capacity Development Plan or CDP which aims at strengthening the mining sector here.

Deputy LME Minister for Planning and Resource Development, Stephen B. Dorbor, says the CDP is a document formulated to identify the strength and weaknesses of the ministry in relations to its statutory mandate.

He says the CDP is intended for the ministry to carryout gap analysis on its performance, adding that the idea behind the CDP is to look whether the ministry is executing its mandate as an arm of government that is responsible for lands, energy and natural resources.
The Deputy Minister said every entity of government has its own role, in terms of contributing to efforts towards national development, noting that it’s against that backdrop the exercise is launched.

He names lack of cooperation as one of the challenges encountered while preparing the CDP, explaining that “reform by itself is a challenge whenever you start to carry out some changes, many will not agree with your ideas”, but at the end, they were able to overcome those challenges.

Minister Dorbor says now that the document has been launched, their expectation is how to make sure that some of the recommendations mentioned in the plan are implemented, saying, “We want to find a way to submit it to cabinet, because when you want to do reforms, you must reach to relevant institutions, indicating to them that this is what you want and must do.”

However, he notes that not all of the recommendations therein will be applicable, because some of these are just comparative analysis among ministries and sectoral agencies.

For his part, Deputy Lands, Mines and Energy Minister for Administration, Jenkins .O Atuanya, says the ministry is one step away from where it was in terms of meeting its reforms plan, adding that the transformation agenda of the country requires collective efforts from line ministries and agencies, including the Governance Commission and Civil Service Agency, CSA, among others.

“The process of reforms at any institution takes a whole lot, and what we have done here speaks volume to the fact that we are making progress in terms of meeting the national reforms agenda of the government”, he expresses.

International partner GIZ, and CDP Consultant, Ms. Christina Von Heyden, expresses delight over the launch of the development plan, saying it t will create an enabling environment for the ministry and the government at large.

According to her, the CDP recommendations must be implemented to enable the ministry achieves its mandate as a revenue generation entity of the government.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

U.S/Liberia reaffirms resolution

The United States Congress this week passed a Resolution – calling for free, fair and peaceful elections in Liberia come the October polls. The Resolution was introduced by Senator Christopher Andrew Coons of Delaware and Senator Cory Anthony Booker from New Jersey.

According to a dispatch from Washington, the Resolution states: “Whereas the United States and Liberia share broad and deep bilateral ties over the course of a nearly 200-year relationship; Whereas the United States established diplomatic relations with Liberia in 1864.”

The resolution asserts: “Whereas it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Liberians died in the country’s two interconnected civil wars from 1989 to 2003 and many more fled as refugees; Whereas today the United States is home to an estimated 80,000 people of Liberian ancestry in vibrant communities across the country, many of whom sought refuge from the violence during the civil wars.”

The dispatch continues: Whereas the people and Government of the United States have a deep and abiding interest in Liberia’s democratic stability and post-conflict development; Whereas United States assistance to Liberia since the end of its second civil war in 2003 has supported post-conflict recovery and a subsequent sustained transition toward broad-based economic growth, improved access to high- quality education, health system strengthening, enhanced socioeconomic welfare for the people of Liberia, the professionalization of the country’s military and civilian security forces, efforts to foster the capacities, accountability, and transparency of government institutions, and the consolidation of participatory democracy.”

“Whereas in 2005, and again in 2011, the citizens of Liberia elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as their President, making her the first woman to be elected president of an African nation; Whereas President Sirleaf was awarded the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 5, 2007, for defending and advancing the democratic rights of her fellow citizens, in the face of house arrest, foreign exile, death threats, and imprisonment, and the Noble Peace Prize on October 7, 2011, for contributing to the nonviolent struggle for the security and rights of women; - Resolution noted.”

The Partnership Resolution stressed: “Whereas the Government of Liberia has contributed to efforts to foster peace, stability, democratization, as well as regional economic growth, development, and integration in West Africa, as demonstrated by President Sirleaf’s role in mediating a peaceful transfer of power in the Gambia in January 2017 and her broader leadership as 2016– 2017 Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States.”

“Whereas Liberia will hold presidential and legislative elections on October 10, 2017; Whereas successful 2017 elections are expected to lead to Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power since 1944; and Whereas public confidence in the electoral process is vital to advancing democracy in Liberia and for ensuring the success of the elections:”

“Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate— (1) upholds its commitment to maintain and 2 foster the enduring relationship between the people 3 and the Governments of the United States and Liberia; (2) commends President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 6 for efforts to consolidate post-conflict peace-building and democratic gains, promote social and economic development, and foster ties with the international community, and for her work to advance international gender equality; (3) urges the Government and people of Liberia 12 and all of the country’s political parties to - (A) hold free, fair, credible, and peaceful elections in October 2017 and in the future; (B) adhere to the objectives set out in the Ganta and Farmington River Declarations and promote and ensure peaceful conduct among candidates, their supporters, and Liberian citizens generally; (C) ensure that there is robust civic education and electoral campaign outreach to often politically marginalized groups, including women, urban youth, and rural communities; and (D) raise awareness of and express zero tolerance for violence against women, gender discrimination, or social bias of any nature in the electoral process; (4) supports efforts by the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development to assist in election preparations; (5) calls on Liberian citizens to fully participate in the general elections and to pursue legal avenues to resolve any disputes over the results; (6) encourages Liberian civil society organizations to intensify civic and voter education, particularly among women, youth, and rural communities, and in local languages;”

“(7) condemns any external interference in the elections, including any communication or action by convicted war criminal and former armed faction leader Charles Taylor to influence the elections from prison; (8) encourages President Donald Trump to appoint an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs to bolster diplomatic engagement with the Government of Liberia, electoral stakeholders, and civil society and robustly engage with other sub-Saharan African countries and governments; (9) calls upon the United States Government and international partners, especially election-focused non-governmental organizations, to continue to support successful elections and Liberia’s anticipated historic democratic post-electoral transition of executive power; and (10) welcomes the visit of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the United States Congress for her final address as President of Liberia.”


GoL opens expedited passport service to public

The Deputy Minister for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cllr. Deweh Gray, explaining to passport applicants The Passport Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), on Wednesday, September 27, officially opened the Expedited Service System (ESS) to the public.

Performing the formal opening ceremony, the Deputy Minister for Legal Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Cllr Deweh Gray, stated, “In our quest to ensure efficiency and expeditious service to passport applicants who for some reason or the other have very urgent travel or appointment needs, we have set up this particular service called the Expedited Service System, where applicants can come in based on the urgency of their travel need and make a request, to the Passport Division, which shall, after proper vetting, process the applications and have the passports ready for pickup within at least three hours after the payment has been made and biometrics completed.

She emphasized that the decision to provide this service eliminates the middleman factor, that is individuals who many times will take money from applicants under the guise that they can get their passports processed within a shorter period only to cause serious embarrassment to applicants who have urgent need for a passport.

The ESS allows applicants to walk in and after going through all the formalities, obtain their passports within a few hours. This service comes with a cost of US$50.00 (Fifty United States Dollars) as service charge in addition to the regular US$50.00 cost of the passport. This means that an applicant will be paying US$100.00, once he or she chooses to use the ESS which is optional and voluntary.

The service will be available between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. daily. Applicants can visit the Passport Bureau to get further information on this service which is only available at the Foreign Ministry.

Applicants who come in with naturalization documents at first appearance will not benefit from the system as their supporting documentations have to go through other vetting and authentication processes. The Ministry informs that the regular processing time for a passport is five-working days.-Press release


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