CDC lawmaker mourns

Congress for Democratic Change lawmaker for Montserrado County Electoral district #16 Dr. Edward S. Forh, who lost his party primary recently, says he doesn’t feel betrayed by the CDC for choosing an aspirant against him to contest on the party’s ticket in the upcoming general and presidential elections.

At the recent primaries for Montserrado County held at the CDC headquarters in Congo Town, aspirant Dixon W. Seboe defeated Representative Forh, while Mulbah Morlu, the party’s vice chairman for mobilization, defeated incumbent electoral district#10 Representative Julius Berrian.

However, the CDC lawmaker Dr. Forh says he is disappointed over the fact that the party chose someone, whom he claims, does not reside in district#16.“If you asked me I will tell you no, I don’t feel betrayed, but am disappointed about the way and manner in which I was treated by the CDC; even if they wanted to drop me from the party ticket, they should have chosen somebody, who is residing in this district and not someone who does not reside in this district; I see this as a complete disrespect to me and my people”, Representative Forh laments over his fall from the party ticket.

Addressing thousands of supporters on Friday, 23 June who had gone to petition him at his resident in New Kru Town to contest for a third term in the district, Dr. Forh protests that it was unfair for someone like him who is a founding member, and signatory to the party protocol to be treated with so much disrespect.

Supporters from 30 communities in electoral district#16 dressed in T-shirts with the portrait of Rep. Forh and carrying placards with inscription: “30 men cannot decide the fate of our district”, sang, danced and chanted slogans saying, “Your leave us ohhh - Da Hat trick we want and nobody else can redeem this district besides Rep. Forh.”

According to him, the fact that he lost the primary to an outsider, does not stop his chances of contesting for the district seat, optimistically saying “once my supporters stand with me, once they believe in my developmental agenda and all others things I have done in this district, absolutely nothing can stop me from serving my people.”

He continues that though the post is not is personal property, but once his people are willing to support him, he will listen to them. “I have heard you my people and I want to accept your petition that I will contest, but what I want is your support, because where ever I go, and the decision I will make, you must follow and agree with me.”

Speaking on behalf of the various communities, the overall chair of all community chairs, Mr. Ebenezer Borbor told the crowd that it was important that the people of New Kru Town elect somebody that understands the inner working of the legislature, not someone that will find it difficult to grab.

According to him, Dr. Forh has been an outstanding member of the 53rd Legislature, and has committed himself to the people of district#16, so they are unanimous in carrying him for a third term to redeem the district from individuals who are incompetent.

“We want to state very clearly here that Rep. Edward Forh is the only man that we believe can transform the living condition of our people, we think the 30 men that went for the primary are bunch of failures and unserious minded people.”

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Conflict, Ebola intensify Mental Disorder in Liberia

The Vice President and Chairman of the Liberia Chapter of the West African College of Physicians, Dr. Rose Jallah Macualey, says mental disorder is a global problem, particularly in Liberia, where the situation has been exacerbated by prolonged armed conflict and the Ebola epidemic.

Speaking on Friday, 23 June at the first Annual General and Scientific Meeting (AGSM) and the 10th Edition of the Dr. Joseph Nagbe Togbah Memorial Lecture Series of the home chapter under the Theme, “Mental Health - An unrecognized Emergency in Liberia”, Dr. Macualey notes that mental health has become an emergency because it has been neglected over the years.

According to her, the AGSM provides an opportunity to highlight the problem and elevate advocacy so that government and development partners would treat mental disorders here as an emergency by prioritizing it in their policies, programs and budgets.

She recalls that the West African College of Physicians was formally inaugurated in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 23, 1973 with Liberia as a founding member, adding that unfortunately, the Liberian Chapter has remained a small chapter in terms of number of fellows.

Dr. Macualey however points out that though Liberia is a small chapter, fellows and members here continue to work hard to perform as well or even better than some of the bigger chapters, noting “Our chapter hosted a very successful 40th AGSM of the College in Liberia last November.”

“Our colleagues from other countries tell us that each time Liberia hosts the AGSM, we raise the bar, the Liberia Chapter is grateful to the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health for the support we continue to receive”, she expresses.

She explains that the Dr. Joseph Nagbe Togbah Memorial Lecture Series has be held by the Liberia Chapter of the West African College of Physicians for nine consecutive years in recognition of his numerous contributions to medical education in Liberia.

Speaking also, an official of the West African Postgraduate College Pharmacies Dr. Hasipha C. Tarpeh, lauds the West African College of Physicians for highlighting the plight of people with mental disorder.

He notes that mental health the world over is a challenge and needs serious attention, noting that Liberia as a country walking out of the ashes of the Ebola epidemic with the task to building a resilient health system is no exception to the world’s challenge.

Dr. Tarpeh furthered that research has proven that mental health is a serious concern in Liberia as evidenced by the increased number of cases, needless to overemphasize the emergency nature of current situation.“The fight against this emergency requires joint effort with the support of the potential partners and well-wishers alike”, he concludes.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Dr. Jones announces running mate

Presidential hopeful Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, Standard Bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment party or MOVEE, is determined to be on the ballot for the October elections despite being faced with the controversial Code of Conduct Section 5.1 and 2, respectively.

Dr. Jones announces his running mate or vice standard bearer today, Tuesday, 27 June at his party headquarters at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital Junction in Monrovia.

Apparently copying from the late William V. S. Tubman, the longest serving President in Liberian history, who chose Dr. William R. Tolbert, Sr., a baptist preacher and president of the World Baptist Alliance as his vice president, Dr. Jones is set to announce another Baptist prelate, Rev. Dr. Samuel Reeves, as running mate.

Reports reaching this paper late last evening from the MOVEE camp, indicates that Dr. Jones has, in fact, selected the Resident Pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia, Dr. Samuel Reeves as his vice standard bearer to vie for the Presidency.

The program, which is expected to feature several local musical artists, will also bring together partisans, sympathizers and members from the Baptist denomination. If all goes well, Dr. Jones will be first party standard bearer in these impending elections to have a senior clergy as his running mate.

Since the passage into law of the Code of Conduct, some politicians have been trying very hard to tie the controversial Code of Conduct that requires public officials seeking elective posts to resign two years prior to elections, around the neck of the former Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia.

The MOVEE Standard Bearer did not resign accordingly, as he ended his tenure at the CBL before coming to active politics, and subsequent formation of his Movement for Economic Empowerment party.

The Code of Conduct says anyone, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two (2) years prior to the date of such public elections; b) Any other official appointed by the President, who holds a tenured position and desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post three (3) years prior to the date of such public election.

Reverend Dr. Samuel Reeves, Jr., is the 23rd Pastor of the historic Providence Baptist Church, where the Declaration of Independence of Liberia was signed in 1847. 

He holds a Master’s of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary in the United States of America.

Prior to accepting his call to Liberia, Rev. Reeves was co-pastor at Madison Square Church, a multi-racial Christian Reformed church that he helped grew from approximately 800 members when he arrived in 1997 to approximately 3,500 members in Grand Rapids, MI, according to research by this paper.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Senate cites fiscal and monetary institutions

The Liberian Senate has mandated its Committee on Banking and Currency to invite government’s fiscal and monetary institutions to explain reasons for the skyrocketing exchange rate that is affecting businesses in the country.

Plenary session’s decision on Thursday, 22 June followed a communication from Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyounblee Karnga-Lawrence that craved the indulgence of the senate to invite both the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Central Bank of Liberia respectively to provide reasons for the high exchange rate in the Liberian market.

In her letter addressed to Senate Pro-temp Armah Jallah, Senator Karnga-Lawrence expressed resentment over the lack of control by fiscal and monetary institutions to regulate the exchange rate between the Liberian dollars and the U.S. dollars, which is currently at 117LRD or 118 LRD to US$1.00.

-The lawmaker said as of June 21, 2017, appallingly, the buying rate in some parts of the country was U$1: 120LRD while the selling rate was U$1: 125LRD. “Even though on the same date, the Central Bank of Liberia mandated US$1:112.75LRD and US$1:113.46LRD for buying and selling rates.”

“This may inform the senate to take appropriate action as is in our purview in order to curb these unprecedented circumstances,” she requested. The senator argued that the strength of the United States dollar against the Liberian dollar is causing small Liberian businesses or business owners to go out of business while some in the medium seize category are being strained to the point where they are no more profiting.

“This is largely due to the fact that they are compelled to buy the US dollar with the weak Liberian dollar before they can purchase their goods.” Skyrocketing of the rate has caused local commodities price to swell and has brought unbearable hardship on Liberians, especially those who are unable to afford one United States dollar a day.

By Bridget Milton

MFDP submits audit report to Ellen, Justice Ministry

Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Boimah Kamara discloses here on Monday, 26 June in news conference that report by the Internal Audit Agency or IAA on the private sector development initiatives has been finalized and submitted to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

He says the report is being subsequently forwarded to the Ministry of Justice to commence probe of all individuals associated with the fund for appropriate measures to be taken thereafter.

Addressing reporters at his Ministry, he cautions Liberians to work with sincere spirit of love, and avoid getting into things that will undermine the growth of the country.
Boimah also encourages Liberians to always carry love in their hearts for all men and let no seed of bitterness cloud their judgment, which could lead them to undermine, hate, malign, witch-hunt, and spew lies.

“I can boldly say that no one is perfect, I Boima Minister of Finance commit and enjoin all Liberians especially, the young people to press forward the mark for the prize of high calling of God by being truthful, faithful, honest, and saying no to all forms of evils, immorality, injustice, corruption in our homes, communities and public offices”, he continues.

He further calls on every leader in both the private and public sectors to transfer the people’s alliance to the vision for Liberia, saying “We all have the vision to change this country, because the visionary or implementer of the vision will outlive us as citizens, we must stand with our President for the upliftment of our country.”

Turning to his colleagues in government, he urges them to execute love for country by executing their God-giving responsibilities in determining what kind of change lies ahead for the country, as every citizen endeavors to become the change envisioned for Liberia. “I say to every Liberian, change has arrived, and it is a new Liberia after 170 years.”But Minister Kamara stresses that this change must be characterized by better quality of life for all Liberians through strong instructions occupied by credible people, who have fear of God and love for fellow man.

The Finance boss, who sounded very philosophical and spoke generally, presided over a recent audit within the Finance Ministry that links former Deputy Finance Minister for Expenditure and Debt Management, Dr. James Kollie, to alleged improprieties over his handling of funds allotted by the Government of Liberia for private sector development initiatives, but Dr. Kollie has challenged the audit.

Editing by Jonathan Browne

11 men arrested in attempted bank robbery

The Liberia National Police (LNP) say it is investigating 11 men who were arrested early Sunday morning, 25 June in Grand Bassa County, while allegedly attempting to arm rob a branch of Global Bank in Buchanan City.

A statement issued in Monrovia Monday, 27 June says the men who were held in police custody at the time of the issuance of the press release were caught with various instruments that were intended to be used in their operation to rob the bank.

Police claim that guns and rounds of ammunitions were also seized from the suspected robbers. The arrest of the suspect came as a result of a tip off alerting police of a planned attack on the bank’s facility in Buchanan.

A police press statement says preliminary investigation indicates that most of those arrested have served sentences at various prisons around the country for various offenses. At the same time police investigators are probing a June 16, 2017 robbery incident at the Freeport of Monrovia. The probe is said to have established that unspecified amount of cash was stolen from the port and other valuables.

Police say the robbers also hit an Ecobank window at the port, allegedly damaging the bank’s CCTV equipment. An attempt to open the bank’s vault failed, police say.--Press release

Bong Technical College shut down

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has shut down the Bong County Technical College (BCTC) that has been rocked by students protest since June against the running of the college by an interim management team.

“We decided the college remains closed for now”, President Sirleaf said Thursday, 22 June outside the college in Gbarnga, Bong County amidst loud hands of applause and cheers from protesting students.

But she has asked the students to refrain from violence and any action that could put the college in a worse situation.She says everything decided at the meeting in Gbarnga with the Bong Legislative Caucus, the college’s board members, interim management team and government officials will be put before the full legislative caucus in Monrovia.

By bringing the matter to Monrovia, President Sirleaf intends to have other relevant government institutions come around the table with the legislative caucus to fix the problem by the time the school opens in September this year.

Members of the college advisory board, including Dr. Wiles, Bishop Kula and the interim management team, including Dr. Massaquoi and the three other assistants were present at the meeting.

But the President clarifies that it is not the students that closed the college, noting that it is a decision of government while investigation is being conducted.
She says before government opens the school in September, there will be a new management, though she notes that it does not imply that she will fire everybody that is now serving.

Rather, she says the new management will be guided by new rules, new qualification and everything, and promises that the money problem that the college faces will be looked at because the construction of the building should have been finished long time.

While the college remains close, she says security will be placed there to protect the facility.The Bong Technical College has been plagued by series of problems, including administrative and poor implementation of construction plan by a Chinese contracted firm despite payment of funds by the government.

By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne

GoL announces support for Kuwait

The Liberian Government announced Monday that it has welcome efforts by the Amir of the State of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah aimed at resolving the ongoing diplomatic dispute between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, as a bloc, and the State of Qatar which, could potentially pose grave threat to the peace and stability in the Middle Eastern region.

A Foreign Ministry release said the Liberian Government applauds the positive mediation of His Highness the Amir to ease tension among the Gulf Cooperation Countries, on his own volition, with a view to appeasing the situation and finding a definite solution to the underlying causes of the conflict.

In this regard, the Government of Liberia assures the Government of the State of Kuwait of its resolute support to the mediation efforts, which encourages dialogue in the resolution of the conflict between the Gulf Cooperation Countries.-Press release

New book examines property tax in Africa

Africa’s rapid growth and urbanization will require stable local governments to deliver goods and services to billions of people, and the continent can look to an underutilized source of revenue, the property tax, write the authors of a book published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

In Property Tax in Africa: Status, Challenges, and Prospects (Paperback $40.00, 625 pages: ISBN: 978-1-55844-363-1), Riël Franzsen and William McCluskey of the African Tax Institute at the University of Pretoria provide the first comprehensive study of the property tax in Africa, laying out challenges, opportunities, and pathways to improvement. They analyze property tax systems in 29 countries and offer four regional overviews, highlighting the key political, administrative, and technical issues that affect how these systems function.

The book comes at a critical time for Africa. The world’s fastest growing continent, Africa has added more than 500 million people since 1990, and by 2050 it will hold a quarter of the world’s population. The continent is rapidly urbanizing, and together with Asia will absorb most of the world’s urban growth in the coming decades.

“Nowhere are the fiscal challenges of urbanization more pronounced than in Africa,” Lincoln Institute President and CEO George W. “Mac” McCarthy writes in the book’s forward. “Establishing high-functioning systems capable of delivering reliable annual revenue flows to help cities make ends meet will require a lot of work. But there is plenty of room for optimism.”

The property tax contributes relatively little revenue in most African countries, representing only 0.38 percent of gross domestic product, on average, compared to more than 2 percent the mostly developed countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Property Tax in Africa identifies many common challenges, including poor tax collection and enforcement, weak administration, and inadequate systems for assessing property values.

Despite the relatively low utilization of the property tax in most African countries, some cities generate significant revenues from the tax. The property tax represents 42 percent of all locally generated revenue in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 23 percent in Nairobi, Kenya, and 21 percent in Accra, Ghana, for example.

The book also highlights some successes in cities that have been able to bolster their property tax systems. The city of Kitwe, Zambia undertakes supplementary valuations, which have increased the number of properties on the tax rolls and increased assessed values, leading to greater revenue. In Kampala, Uganda, officials from the national Uganda Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance collaborated with the local government to set up a new office for revenue collection, which more than doubled the collection of property tax in four years.

A resource for property tax scholars as well as public officials and practitioners on the ground, the book makes recommendations for improving the performance of the property tax in Africa, including the following:

• Thoroughly analyze the property tax system and decide how it relates to national economic development goals. 

• Audit the legal underpinnings of the property tax and redraft laws, as needed, to lay the groundwork for more effective systems.

• In most countries, concentrate reform in the largest cities.
• Focus on collection and enforcement systems first.
• Plan gradual transitions that allows the tax administration to catch up and taxpayers to get used to the new system.

In addition to continent-wide and regional overviews, the book includes detailed analyses of the 29 countries: Benin, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.-Press release

Boakai too old for President

The National Chairman of the Liberia National Union or LINU says Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, who is seeking the Liberian presidency, is too old for the nation’s highest office.

Mr. Nathaniel Blamah made the observation over the weekend in Kakata, Margibi County, noting that the 74-year-old Vice President is not in touch with the youthful generation of today, so electing him President in such contemporary time, would be adding burden to the already overburdened country.

He continues that VP Boakai, who is Standard Bearer for the ruling Unity Party, has been in government for about 34 years without making any significant change, which is a clear indication that the Presidency under his leadership will bring only old ideas and outdated methods to the country, which has suffered 14 years of civil unrest.

Blamah, a kinsman of Boakai, says Liberia needs a youthful leader, who understands today’s realities, noting that France, being one of the well developed countries in the world, just elected 39 years Emmanuel Marcon as President, further arguing that old age these days bring nothing but old ideas and weakness to the Presidency.

Under the watch of the Vice President, who closely works with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the economy is in shamble, health and educational sectors of the country are still in ruin. Vice President Boakai has failed to provide any useful suggestions to the current administration, despite being the second in command of the country.

The LINU, which conducted its 4th national primary, produced 38 aspirants to contest on the party’s ticket for representative seats in the 2017 Representatives and Presidential elections. Blamah, who is not contesting the polls himself, explains that the party does not need crowd to take elective seats, adding that crowds are being rented, and actual people, who are qualified to vote in an electoral district, are far from the scene.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Editing by Jonathan Browne

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