Politics

Gender Coordinator laments SGBV cases in Bassa

Grand Bassa County Gender Coordinator Madam Nattie Doepoe says statistics have shown that more needs to be done to succeed in the fight against sexual gender based violence in Grand Bassa County.


Madam Doepoe told reporters recently that her office continues to work with other stakeholders to ensure a significant reduction in sexual gender based violence cases, but observes that more needs to be done.

According to Madam Doepoe, from January to July 2018 alone, there have been a total of 41 cases reported, out of which five are rape cases. She says other cases are domestic violence and persistent non-support cases.

As part of efforts to reduce Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), the Gender Coordinator reveals that there have been school gender clubs set up in 16 public schools to create awareness.

According to her, the awareness on campuses in the county is aiding her work greatly because members of the clubs are engaged in regular campus sensitization about issues involving SGBV and dangers associated with them.


She notes that for the past 12 years, her office has made significant strides with the help of the clubs in fighting SGBV issues across Grand Bassa County. Despite these efforts, she says the lack of a save home in the county to cater to survivors is a serious challenge in the fight against SGBV cases.

Madam Dopoe underscores the need for the reopening of the save home in Bassa, though she says [Gender] Ministry is doing everything possible to ensure this is done.

For her part, Bassa Women Development Association Chairlady Martha F. Karnga says the main focus of her group is to build the capacity of the women in Grand Bassa County to speak out against issues affecting them in the society.

Madam Karnga notes that though Association does not have leadership in the various districts of the county, it has succeeded over the years due to collaboration with other organizations which share similar vision about issues affecting women.

According to Madam Karnga, violence against women is not only about rape, persistent non - support and domestic violence, but denial to own land as well as allowing women to play leadership role and participation in decision making at all levels.

“You men need to sit and really concentrate about some of the treatment you give women and put yourselves in their shoes if it were you who were being treated in such manner,” she says.

Madam Karnga urges men to women if Liberia must succeed in fighting violence against women in all forms. Also speaking Ma Klubo Tutay, a business woman in Buchanan General Market frowned on men who are in the habit of beating on women, abandoning their responsibilities and raping women and girls.

“We don’t know why men have become very wicked to us despite all the cares for them,” Madam Tutay says. Also adding her voice 45 - year- old Rebecca S. King called on the Government of Liberia to make stronger laws on violence against women and girls that will serve as deterrence to would be violators.

She says one way to make progress in fighting sexual gender based violence is for women in Liberia to desist from compromising cases of SGBV. She challenges women to stand up and compete with their male counterparts, adding that what men do, women can do the same and even better. She says she does not have a husband, but she is doing her business and catering to her children.

By Bridgett Milton & George K. Momo--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Supreme Court wants Maritime organizational chart

Liberia’s Supreme Court has requested the organizational chart of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), amidst disputes against claims that Atty. Isaac Jackson’s appointment as Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is legally a Deputy Commissioner of Maritime position tenured for five years.


Atty. Jackson is challenging his removal from the position by President George Manneh Weah at the Supreme Court, arguing through his lawyers that former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf appointed him as Permanent Representative to the IMO on 13 September 2016 and commissioned 28 October 2016.

Justice in Chambers Jamesetta Howard - Wolokolie on Wednesday, 11 July instructed Supreme Court Clerk Atty. Sam Mamulu to request the LMA to forward to her the institution’s organizational chart consistent with the LMA Act of 2010.

“Her Honor Jamesetta H. Wolokolie, Associate Justice presiding in Chambers, directs that I request you to kindly forward to her, the Organizational Chart of the Liberia Maritime Authority, consistent with the Act establishing the Liberia Maritime Authority, approved on September 6, 2010, relative to the above captioned case,” the communication reads.

During a follow up with the Clerk of Court Atty. Mamulu on Thursday, 12 July to ascertain if the entity had responded, he referred journalists directly to Justice Wolokolie’s office.

But an office staff said the instrument had not yet been forwarded to the Justice at the time of journalists’ visit there.

The organizational chart appears to be a key instrument that may help in addressing concerns if Atty. Jackson’s position is also legally a Deputy Commissioner of LMA as claimed by his counsels.

Atty. Jackson says he has spent one year and nine months on the job as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO as of the date of filling the position.He claims that the only reason for his replacement by President Weah is purely on political grounds.

Earlier in similar case decided this week, Cllr. Stanley S. Kparklin said Justice Wolokolie ruled that his client Ms. Agnes Effiong should return to work to end her tenure as Deputy Director General at the National Lottery Authority (NLA), after challenging her replacement by President Weah.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

Lonestar Cell MTN rolls out ‘Switch!’ Campaign

Telecoms giant demonstrates its commitment to meeting the demands for increased data usage by launching a unique data reward incentive scheme.


Lonestar Cell MTN, Liberia’s largest telecommunications service provider, has rolled out the ‘Switch!’ Campaign to meet the growing needs of data usage amongst consumers. This new incentive offers customers a faster, smarter data experience on the company’s recently upgraded network.

The ‘Switch!’ Campaign rewards anyone who uses their smartphone on the Lonestar network for the first time and purchases a data package for $1 and above using the *352# code with Double Data for 6 months. This innovative service offers great value by doubling the data purchased at the same affordable data bundle price. It also gives customers an added reason to upgrade to smartphones to experience the online world at fast internet speeds.

According to Manu Rajan, Chief Marketing Officer, and “The Switch’! Campaign is a welcome call for change in the digital lives of Liberians. We urge them to join Liberia’s largest family to experience our new improved data network. We will welcome all our new data users on our network with double data on all data packages for $1 and above for the next 6 months to enjoy the things they love on the internet. Our existing customers can continue to enjoy the great offers they get on *352# or on the Discount Store when they call 500 or *500#.”

Lonestar Cell MTN is proud of its commitment of ensuring every single Liberian benefit from a modern connected life and we are continuously working towards this goal of taking everyone to a bold new digital world.-Press release

MoE conducts early childhood development training in Bong

The Ministry of Education (MoE) in Collaboration with UNICEF has begun conducting a one - week training workshop on Early Childhood Development (ECD) for elementary teachers in Gbarnga, Bong County.


Speaking in an interview with this paper, the Director for Region Two at the Bureau of Early Childhood, Ministry of Education, Heanneah Farwenee said the training is intended to inform teachers on the importance of the early childhood development curriculum at their various schools in the country.

She says the educational sector plan for 2010 -2020 committed the ministry to lead the holistic and cross sectoral coordination efforts around early childhood development.

She says Liberia’s 2010 Global Partnership for Education Grants earmarked funds to expand access to pre-primary education through class room construction, furnishing, materials [and] development.

In 2011, the MOE set up a special unit, the Bureau for Early Childhood Education to focus specifically on young children.In the same year, Liberia approved its national inter- sectoral policy on early childhood development and a new Education Reform Act was promulgated, which commits the government to providing the primary education.With support from external experts, the government has been developing early childhood framework with four aims.

They include raising community awareness about intervention on early childhood, developing skills of service providers, creating a professional development program in teachers training institutions and developing capacity within higher education institutions to deliver degree program and conduct research in child development.

Madam Farwenee says participants of the one week teachers’ workshop have been drawn from five counties, namely Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, River Cess and Bong Counties.

The Director of Region Two for Early Childhood Development at the Ministry says she is hoping that after the training, participants will be able effectively utilize the early childhood curriculum beginning academic 2018-2019 and pay attention to the learning needs of children between ages of 3 to 5 years.

By Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong --Edited by Winston W. Parley

Man complains wife to police for company money

A Mauritanian national here Hamadou Fou has complained his wife Evelyn Lurzeh to the Liberia National Police (LNP) for allegedly taking away US$7,100.00 which he says belongs to his company Ecoma Mauritania.


When contacted Thursday, 12 July via mobile phone on the allegation, Ms. Lurzeh, a Liberian, said she took an unspecified amount of money from her husband Mr. Fou because he has become secretive in his business after she allegedly struggled with him for years.

But in a statement written by Mr. Fou on 9 July to police, he says he withdrew US$7,100.00 from Ecoma Mauritania’s account as a Director with the purpose of shipping the company’s container.

He told police that he did the withdrawal because he could not complete the payment process at the shipping line due to increased shipping fees.

“While the cash was kept in my room, my wife in person of Evelyn Lurzeh broke in my grape and stole the seven thousand and one hundred United States (US$7,100.00) and got away on Friday morning July 6, 2018,” Mr. Fou complains.

He says since Ms. Lurzeh walked out that morning, she has not returned. Mr. Fou notes that he has communicated with his wife and confronted her about the money and she confirmed taking it away.

He claims that Ms. Lurzeh also confirmed to police that she took away the money, but she allegedly refused to return the money despite his effort in persuading her.

For her part, Ms. Lurzeh says she is taking the money for her benefit because she has suffered with Mr. Fou when he was struggling, accusing him of no longer telling her anything about his earnings.

She says her action is also due to her husband’s family’s alleged pressure on him to get a Muslim wife, adding that Mr. Fou does not send her to school. Ms. Lurzeh accuses Mr. Fou of allegedly taking away their four children, adding that she has told her husband that she will not return until she is satisfied. When also contacted on Ms. Lurzeh’s claims, Mr. Fou denied being pressured by his family to marry a Muslim woman.

He notes that he has their five children with him at home, instead of four children mentioned by his wife Ms. Lurzeh. Mr. Fou says he supports the family without discrimination, lamenting that the money she took away is a company money.

By Winston W. Parley

IREDD petitions House on tax reform

The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) with support from the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) has petitioned the House of Representatives against a strenuous and unconventional assessment of imports by revenues authorities here.


IREDD has launched an advocacy campaign for domestic resource mobilization through Fairer Tax Governance and Reforms.According to the petition presented to the Committee on Petition and Claims, the strenuous impact of the Tax Amendments Act of 2016 constrained Liberian owned businesses to stage a protest resisting trade facilitation with the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) at the Freeport of Monrovia.

IREDD and its partners have identified some compelling tax governance issues including increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7% to 10%; the huge bottleneck associated with trade facilitations at port of entries across the country, particularly the Freeport of Monrovia and the uncoordinated processes of Liberia Revenue Agency, BIVAC and Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

They also cite the APM Terminals’ undefined time interval in processing of containers from the Freeport of Monrovia to consignee, and the undue delay by LRA system to process tax payment across the country in real time.

The group further names LRA’s continued use of administrative regulations and unconventional methods to assess customs duties on imported goods instead of the CIF values (use of normal market value or selling price to reevaluate imported goods).

It says revenue authorities here ignore BIVAC’s assessment regime or clean report of findings (CRF); uses excessive penalty regime on imported used vehicles of more than 10 years; and unstable and unregulated foreign exchange rate regime.

They further cite the wrongful application of 4% tax on gross sales quarterly instead of annual turnover required by Section 200 (c)(1) of the Liberia Revenue Code, and the unrestricted system of doing business in Liberia.

They complain that foreigners are serving in dual or triple capacities in the commerce of Liberia by doing import, distribution, wholesale and retails at the same time.

They observe that these actions leave Liberian owned businesses with limited financial capacity, vulnerable and mere spectators.

IREDD says the primary purpose of the advocacy campaign is to engender wider public discussions on the Liberia Tax Amendments Act of 2016 which imposed additional tax burden on all taxpayers, especially Liberian owned businesses that are already challenged financially to compete with foreign counterparts.

--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Too soon for judgment

The National Chairman of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change cautions opposition here that it is too soon to render guilty verdict against the leader ability of President George Manneh Weah.


Addressing a news press conference Wednesday, July 11, in Monrovia, Chairman Mulbah Morlu says recent criticisms by opposition political parties and critics are needless as the Weah administration is still in its formative stage.

According to Morlu, despite the government being about six months old on the national scene, it has achieved a lot as compared to previous administrations.
He notes the CDC-led administration inherited ‘massive corruption mess’ that President Weah and his team are struggling to clean and the current economic hardship that engulfs the country is a making of the former ruling Unity Party.

“It is very early for guilty verdict to be rendered against a president, who inherited a massively corrupt administration. This government in less than five months has attracted huge investment valued at about US$1billon. This is the only administration that insists civil servants should be paid ahead of officials of government. This has never happened in our governance process. The CDC government has achieved in the shortest possible much than expected,” he argued.

He says the reason investors have taken keen interest in investing their monies here is based on the President’s track record, adding, the President is corruption-free and a commoner who has come to the presidency to serve and give back to the people who voted for him. Their votes were clear message of change and that change is what President Weah is doing.

He franticly defends that President Weah is not responsible for the high cost of living, noting that the governance system has been total untidiness prior to Weah coming to the presidency.

Morlu continues that the President Weah will not work in the tune of the media and opposition who only criticize without providing strategic recommendation to the administration for onward reformation.

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

LACC questions 5 officials

Five top officials are listed to face investigation, following General Auditing Commission (GAC’s) audit report, which claims that Gender Ministry’s activities and payroll transactions from 1 July 2014 through 31 January 2018 were not in compliance in all material respects.


Signed by Auditor General Yusador S. Gaye, a copy of which is in the possession of this paper accuses the Ministry of allegedly making salary payments totaling US$282,746.00 to 25 persons whose names were not reflected in the personnel listing from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2016.

An LACC communication authorized by Baba M. Borkai and Charles Gibson, III, says Gender Ministry employees including Procurement Director Lanfia Waritay and Human Resource Director Benson Whea are scheduled to face LACC inquiry on Friday, 13 July, while Comptroller Emmanuel Davis is scheduled for Monday, 16 July.

It also says the Assistant Dispatcher in the office of the Deputy Minister for Administration Varney Gataweh and the Assistant Human Resource Director Barcolleh Poronpyea were scheduled to appear for inquiry at the Commission on Wednesday, 11 July.

“Hon. Minister, please be assured that the LACC has already begun preliminary investigation into the matter and will shortly [begin] inviting concerned staff of the MGCSP [Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection] who are of interest to this investigation,” the communication dated 10 June and addressed to Minister Williametta E. Saydee - Tarr says.

The report reveals that between 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, allowance payments in the aggregate amount of US$26,899.78 for multiple employees were allegedly disbursed to a single Ecobank account owned by Mr. Thomas Gbukpa who appears not to be on the Ministry’s personnel listing.

It notes that the base salary of the Assistant Human Resource was changed from US$1,000 to US$1,500 in July 2017 and later changed to US$2,000 in August that same year.

The report further alleges that the same salary was again changed to US$3,100.00 in November 2017 without any written approval of senior management or a valid reason to support the changes.

The Audit report adds that Gender Ministry made net payments to employees in excess of their gross pay, and management allegedly allowed a frequent increase in an employee’s gross pay without adequate approval of the requisite supporting documentation.

GAC indicates in its audit report that the former Gender Minister and the Assistant Human Resource Director responded that Mr. Gbukpa was in the employ of the Ministry at the time the disbursements were made.


Further GAC says Gender Ministry indicated that the money disbursed to Mr. Gbukpa were intended for Gender Ministry’s employees in the counties for whom Mr. Gbukpa served as a liaison officer.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

Lonestar Cell MTN launches Switch Promotion

Liberia’s leading mobile telecommunication company Lonestar Cell MTN raises many internet users’ hopes with the launch of its newest promotion, “Switch” in which the company will give customers double data.


“Switch’ is a campaign designed by Lonestar Cell MTN to give students and customers the opportunity to experience the new bold digital world, only by dialing *352# to purchase a bundle and automatically receive a double data that will solve their internet problems.

The company on Wednesday, 11 July told students in a surprise program at the Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia outside Monrovia that its visit to the campus was to fulfill a promise made to provide them the best solution to their technology problems.

Lonestar Cell MTN Senior Marketing Manager Ibrahim Daramie at the start of the program notes the launch will provide students and customers’ opportunity to carry on their various works while using their mobile phones.

He says Lonestar Cell MTN is one of the companies that are so much concerned about hardship facing students in terms of using the internet.According to him, with the launch of the Switch Promotion LoneStar Cell MTN thinks customers would see the great need to switch to have double data.

He explains that no change is possible without technology, saying “You asked for a budget network, more data and the company has listened to the people”.“We want you to have a change from sitting in the laboratory doing assignment, but rather using your laptop and mobile phones. It is against this backdrop that we decided to launch and call this change Switch,” he says.

He encourages consumers to switch to a better network that will serve them at schools, homes, and everywhere they go on the Lonestar Cell MTN network.The Telecommunication giant took the UL Fendell students by surprise with the presence of their Brand Ambassador CIC who took the stage to perform along with a huge dance crew performing on the school campus.

“We have switched and you need to switch. A switch to a better network that will serve you at schools, homes, and everywhere you go on the Lonestar Cell MTN network,” Mr. Daramie said.

Meanwhile, Student Marcus Doe expressed delight over the new campaign being launched by Lonestar Cell MTN, saying such will help in their quest of getting affordable service and doing their school work at all times.“I’m excited” he said, adding that even the public will be excited as well.

By Lewis S. Teh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Liberia, EU sign Aide Memoire of Joint Implementation Committee

The signature of the Aide Memoire of the sixth meeting of the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC), which oversees implementation of the Forestry Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Program through the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Liberia and the European Union, has taken place on 10 July at the Monrovia City Hall.


European Union Ambassador Hélène Cavé and Chairman of the FDA Board of Directors Harrison Karnwea have agreed on the final version of the document that informs on progress towards implementation of the VPA.

It aims to improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Liberia to the EU.
The JIC meeting took place in Monrovia from 13-14 June 2018, and it was the first since the new government took office earlier this year, including the new Forest Development Authority Managing Director C. Mike Doryen.

The technical and preparatory discussions were co-chaired by Mr. Alberto Menghini of the EU Delegation and C. Mike Doryen of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).Ambassador Hélène Cavé of the EU Delegation to Liberia and FDA Board Chair Mr. Harrison S. Karnwea co-chaired the formal session and signed the Aide Memoire.

Several partners including the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), European Forest Institute (EFI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank were invited to attend the meeting.

Participating stakeholders from the Liberian side included nine ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, the Liberia Timber Association and the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC).

The meeting focused on discussing progress in VPA implementation milestones and improving the capacities of government agencies, the private sector, civil society and communities.

An open stakeholder session for raising additional topics also took place. Discussions needed to be prolonged beyond the first session, so further dialogue and joint efforts allowed for an agreement that translates into the Aide Memoire document.

Further to this, both parties will renew their commitment to the VPA through the signature of a new financing agreement for EUR 4M that will ensure additional support to the process.

Liberia’s Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah will sign the new financing agreement officially during the EU Liberia Political Dialogue later this week.A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU.

A VPA aims to ensure that all timber and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country comply with the laws of that country.In addition to promoting trade in legal timber, VPAs address the causes of illegality by improving forest governance and law enforcement.

A major strength of VPAs is that they look beyond trade to consider development and environmental issues.Liberia and the EU negotiated their VPA between 2009 and 2011. The negotiations involved representatives of Liberian civil society organisations, community organisations, the private sector, and government ministries and agencies.

As a result, significant national ownership and stakeholder engagement were achieved and the VPA reflects a broad consensus among stakeholders.--Press release

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