Dear Editor,With a forecasted price of manganese (Mn) at US$3.2 per dry metric tonne unit and given that recent prices for some quality Mn could stay around the US$6 mark, the overall Government earnings could be substantial for the 26 million tonnes available over the projected 12-year period.However, Bosai’s business only makes approximately 10 per cent profit and taxes. How much does the Guyanese Government get and the structure of the contract is worth better understanding.Taking a small percentage from a business partner that also makes a small percentage is not a good long-term strategy to pursue, especially given the inherent damage to the environment associated with such an industry. Our preference should be towards investing in businesses that target above 15 per cent net income and that are also bringing value added products in its portfolio while being in alignment with our sustainable green strategy.The health risks of manganese mining have been shown to have negative neurological effects on adults with exposure levels being dependent on the mining methodology used. Both airborne and waterborne exposure also has a negative impact on children in mining areas. Resulting farming produce in the area after mining may also be negatively impacted and deemed unhealthy.Referencing such case studies as the one on Molango in Mexico (one of the manganese mines in the world of similar potential as that found in Matthews Ridge) should be reviewed before final approval of this project is given.In addition, given the company’s history in Guyana, when one remembers the death of their employees in 2013, a close review of planned operations should be undertaken with the necessary safeguards put in place. The risk vs the reward to the Government raises many questions on the long-term plan for Region One and how to make the best long-term use of the proposed 45 thousand plus acres to be utilised. This plan must also go beyond the 13 years proposed for the project and clearly show a strong linkage to our country’s sustainable environmental plan.Best regards,Jamil Changlee
Newly elected Mayor of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) Patricia Chase-Green has said she welcomes with open arms any attempt by the Auditor General to carry out an audit of City Hall.New City MayorPatricia Chase-GreenA recently elected People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councillor, Bishram Kuppen, just two days ago, joined the list of voices which previously called for an independent probe into the operations of City Hall. He said with the completion of Local Government Elections (LGE) and the appointment of a new Council, it was time that they get down with serious business of managing the affairs of the city.Kuppen said many citizens have expressed grave concern about transparency and accountability at City Hall, especially with the election of past members of the City Council, including the Mayor-elect and Chairman of the Finance Committee and some of its members who have been part of the administration at City Hall for many years.But even with these claims, the new Mayor said she has nothing to hide. She related that even before she became Deputy Mayor, serving under former Mayor Hamilton Greene, she had always been calling for an audit to be held.“Before I became Mayor or Deputy Mayor, I supported audits. I had also written to the Auditor General for him to come to City Hall to carry out an audit”, she told Guyana Times on Friday. She said back in 2012, she had written more than three letters for the then Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker for him to intervene and have the audits done, particularly because of the excessive spending and abuse of funds by then acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba. She said nothing to that effect has taken place.“So, I will not object to an audit. The Auditor General is free to come,” she told this publication. “I have nothing to hide,” she reiterated.The call for an audit was also made by newly elected Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan. He had said, following his swearing in last Friday, that a forensic audit is very much needed at City Hall, which has seen the presence and operation of a single Council for some 23 years. Duncan stated that an audit should be entered into in good faith.Following its ascension to office in May 2015, controversy began over the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change’s (APNU/AFC) decision to launch forensic audits into almost every State agency in the country, but failed to carry out one into the affairs of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council – an agency said to be plagued by repeated accusations of financial impropriety, which had been backed by several investigations.The City Council for years had failed to address the many issues facing the capital city of Georgetown. While the Council continuously blamed its inability to deal with the problems confronting the capital on the lack of financial resources, then Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker contended otherwise.Whittaker had previously declared that the Council lacked the political will under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government to actually commit to responding to the changing dynamics of the city and to provide improved services to residents.More specifically, Whittaker had pointed out that the Council has no serious debt recovery programme to capture the billions of dollars owed in taxes by businesses and residents. Instead, he explained, the Council continuously cried out that the Central Government did not provide adequate funds for it to effectively conduct its operations.
A 26-year-old Brazilian woman was remanded to prison when she appeared before Magistrate Fabayo Azore at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts charged for illegal possession of ammunition.Mikanny Meres pleaded not guilty to the charge which stated that on August 11, 2016, at Aishalton Village, South Rupununi, she had one live .32 round of ammunition without being the holder of a firearm licence.The prosecution’s case stated that on the day in question, the defendant was intercepted at the Aishalton check point where she was attempting to enter Marudi Backdam. The ammunition was concealed in a black handbag belonging to the defendant.In court on Tuesday, the Magistrate spoke to the defendant through an immigration translator who experienced much difficulties communicating with her as she was crying uncontrollably.Meres was refused bail and will return to court on September 8, before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
A meeting of Chief Justices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ended in the capital city of Benin, Cotonou.According to the Supreme Court of Liberia, the delegates at the meeting, which included the Chief Justices of the 12 of the 15 West African States, agreed on mechanisms for improving the enforcement by National Courts of laws that strengthens integration.At the meeting, the Chief Justices also discussed the need for more resources to promote cooperation among national judiciaries, with the goal of streamlining the judicial systems of member states to in turn facilitate intra community enforcement of courts processes, affective integration and decisions.The West African Chief Justices proposed to ensure greater respect for the rule of law in the Economic Community of West African (ECOWAS) member states, as well as to improve judicial services and relations with other arms of government to ensure greater independence for their judiciaries.The conference was addressed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission Vice President, Dr. Toga McIntosh, the Host Chief Justice of Benin and his counterpart from the Ivory Coast, who is also the Chairman of the Counsel of the West African Chief Justices.The High Court Justices who attended the meeting were his honor Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., of Liberia, and his colleagues from Benin, Ivory Coast, Cape –Verde, Togo, Senegal, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina –Faso and Ghana among others.The meeting of the Chief Justices of the economic community of West African states usually involves activities that highlight issues of national justice and how they can be addressed.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
What really happened to the National Elections Commission’s recent voter registration exercise?Is it true that they had mobile registration stations? Is it true that they spent US$9 million on vehicle rental to take the registrars from place to place registering people?Is it true that they did not advertise in any newspaper the various registration sites around the country?To what extent did they engage in voter registration education? If NEC is unable to give cogent answers to these questions, then no wonder NEC achieved little over 26 percent or 104,710 of their projected goal of 400,000 registrants.But let us examine each of the questions separately–the first, mobile registration stations. We recall that in 2005 and 2011 NEC had fixed voter registration stations throughout the country. This was as it should have been given the transportation difficulties people encounter traveling from one place to another all over Liberia, the greater Monrovia area included. How much more the interior parts of the country? All voter registration stations should have been STATIONARY, so that people knew exactly where they were expected to be registered.On what basis did they make this decision? That seemed to have been the most fatal mistake of all. And it was a very costly one, causing NEC to spend US$9 million on RENTED vehicles. Who ever heard of such a thing? So in the end they spent money driving the registration teams from the people; so by the time would-be registrants arrived, the teams had gotten into their rented vehicles and gone!How much advertising did NEC do to let people know where they were to report to register? We remember distinctly that in 2005 NEC under Frances Johnson Morris advertised in a few newspapers the long lists of voter registration stations around the country. So people knew long in advance where they were expected to go to be registered.NEC may contend they did not have the money to advertise. But they could have approached the newspapers and appealed for concessions, to make sure that people knew where to go to register. Some of the money use on rented vehicles could have gone into newspaper and radio advertising.How much voter registration education did NEC do? We understand that there were posters pasted on light poles and walls. But clearly they were not enough. How effectively did NEC use the community radio stations scattered throughout the country? It is a known fact that most of these stations are financially strapped. Here was an opportunity for NEC to empower them to render a vital, patriotic service by helping them with a little fuel and something to subsist on, in return for mobilizing the people to go out and register to vote.NEC attempted a valid excuse when it blamed the poor turn out on voter apathy. It is a fact that many people, especially the young, including first time registrants, have become apathetic given the dismal performance of our legislators–people have failed to do the people’s business but spent most of the time attending to their own affairs, and where they perform the work they are paid to do, they often demand special favors–mainly financial.That is why NEC should have risen to the challenge of voter education by launching a massive publicity campaign explaining to 18 year-olds the critical importance of participating in the electoral process. By registering to vote, they would prepare themselves, as they say in America, to “THROW OUT THE RASCALS!” and elect new leaders to do the people’s business.Alas! NEC missed that opportunity. We did not expect them to be as blunt as that and thereby incur the wrath of the legislators. But NEC could have engaged some of the young leaders, from the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) and other youth organizations, as well as some of the country’s vocal young people, to crisscross the country encouraging their kind to go register to vote.We hope and pray that NEC will have another opportunity to repeat the voter registration for the forthcoming elections. But from where will they get the money for a repeat exercise, with the government in such serious financial straits?The NEC Commissioners are challenged to be creative in determining their next move to correct their fatal registration fiasco.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Nimba County’s stolen Ebola rice case, which was thrown out of court recently over the prosecution’s failure to present evidence, is said to have resurfaced and the suspects are expected back in court today.The case resurfaced after the Nimba Legislative Caucus mounted pressure on the Ministry of Justice to re-file the case for prosecution without delay. Senator Thomas S. Grupee, Chairman of the Nimba Legislative Caucus, told the Radio Saclepea Morning Show last Tuesday that the Nimba County Attorney had been ordered to gather all evidence on the case for immediate prosecution.He said the act of stealing rice intended for Ebola victims was a very bad thing, and should be considered as “a crime against humanity”. He demanded that those involved in stealing food intended for the sick or people in quarantine, should not go unpunished.Senator Grupee added that the caucus will not rest until all those involved are brought to justice to serve as a deterrent against such a shameful crime.On 31st October 2014 the Ganta Magisterial Court threw out the stolen Ebola Rice case involving four Nimba Health Workers and a business woman indefinitely, because the prosecution filed in a motion to have the case “Nulleprosequi” due to insufficient evidence.The prosecution, represented by Attorney James Boayou, said he could not prosecute the case in the absence of the plaintiff, who is the County Health Services Director Ramsey Leesala.Ganta City Solicitor, Attorney Boayou, said “I declared the case Nulleprosequi until the complainer can come and explain the details of the case to me.”But Senator Grupee said they are making sure that the plaintiff, the Health Officer under whose custody the items were stolen, will be present at the court to back the case.Since the case was thrown out of court, nothing has been heard from the Nimba County Health Team from whose warehouse the items were stolen and who did not turn up for the hearing.There has been administrative wrangling between the leadership of Nimba and the county caucus over the handling of funds intended for the fight against Ebola.The tussle led to the subsequent dismissal of Teeko Yorlay from the post of Assistant Superintendent for Development after the case reached the plenary of the parliament where a vote of no confidence was imposed on him and Supt. Fong Zuagele.The County Health Team has come under criticism recently for what was alleged as single handedly managing the budget allotted by the government for the Bahn Health Center.The issue of the single handed management of the budget led the Bahn Health Board, headed by one Joseph Menlor, to resign because of what it claimed as non compliance, undermining and ostracizing.Even though, the County Health Authority said the money had been used to undertake some development projects for the Bahn Health Center, using the funds in the absence of the board with the accountant based in Sanniquellie, still created serious concern and suspicion among the citizens. The stolen Ebola rice case began on 1st October 2014 when the LNP Ganta Detail arrested a vehicle marked TP. 766 with about 200 bags of 25kg rice, 15 five- gallon containers of vegetable oil and 10 bags of beans. These items were part of the food consignment donated to Nimba by the World Food Program (WFP) for those under quarantine from Ebola.The bags of rice were loaded on a mini truck headed for Saclepea from Sanniquellie when it was arrested by police in Ganta. It was believed to be without a way bill.However, those accused of involvement in the alleged illegal removal of the rice, namely C. Paul Nyanzee of County Community Health Service, Director Var Bleh, Ware House Manager, Sarah Lawehyee, Kou Yelibor, County Mental Health Officer and businesswoman Kou Kouh of Saclepea, had all been exonerated by the court and freed to resume their normal activities.They were arrested by the Liberian National Police on charges including criminal facilitation, criminal conspiracy and theft of property and sent to court.In the same development, the Karnplay City Mayor was linked to another stolen Ebola food case involving bulgur wheat distributed by the ADRA in Karnplay. She denied any link with the crime, but the stolen food items were discovered outside the ware house.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Liberia Limited has been named as the “Humanitarian Bank of the year 2014” for the role it continues to play in the fight against the Ebola virus disease (EVD).The honor was bestowed upon UBA by the International Learning Institute (ILI) and its subsidiary, Gender International Magazine Publication and Resource Center, at the Champions of the Year Annual Award 2014. The ceremony was held last Saturday at a local resort in Monrovia.Several personalities, institutions and groups were also honored for their outstanding contribution to the fight against the virus.“We are very grateful to be awarding UBA as the Humanitarian Bank of the Year, for standing by the Liberian people. This bank donated over US$400,000 to the national taskforce through the President, and also provided some logistics to enhance government’s efforts.”We have nothing to give you, UBA, but to recognize you in this public manner for your contributions. Only our good Lord will repay you for this generosity,” Chief organizer Mildred Dean said.UBA’s head of corporate communication and Services, Douglas M. V Jones, who received the award, noted that all of their contributions were not intended to win an award, but to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility to the government and the Liberian people.Mr. Jones said Ebola, like other natural disasters and pestilences, has no boundary, and as such, it was of more necessity for everyone, including UBA, to rally around government to defeat the virus.He noted that the bank began to get involved in the fight when its chairman, Tony Elumelu, decided to make donations to the three Ebola hot-spots, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, during the heat of the outbreak.“That was the time for us to do something to save the lives of our brothers and sisters that were dying on a daily basis,” he said.Mr. Jones noted that the bank was compelled to act because it was not only after banking profits but also the responsibility to look after humanity.“When the bank flourishes in good times, it should also be able to stand up in bad times and this is exactly what UBA was doing.”He also disclosed that UBA and the government have reached an agreement known as, ‘Social Corporate Compact.’ The agreement is to help in the post Ebola reconstruction process. The bank is wholeheartedly waiting to help in whatever way it is needed, he declared.UBA in November 2014 made an additional donation of US$300,000 to the Government of Liberia to help in the Ebola fight. This came after the UBA and its chairman had previously made several donations to the government and the National Taskforce.In September 2014, the bank also made an initial donation of a pick-up truck as logistical support to government’s efforts and promised to keep observing the situation and make additional donations when it became expedient.In her response, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf termed the donation as reinforcement of good partnership between Liberia, the UBA and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which she further described as “long standing partnership benefiting all sides.”She praised UBA’s strong commitment to Liberia’s recovery and assured the bank that its interventions in Liberia, especially in the Ebola fight, had had a great impact on Liberians.She reminded UBA’s top management of the post-Ebola reconstruction era as financial institutions partnering with Liberia will greatly be needed in this direction.UBA Liberia, which is a subsidiary of UBA Plc in Nigeria, was incorporated as a private limited liability company in October 10, 2006. Upon the formal launch of its first branch on Bushrod Island, the bank promised quality and professional services as well as a robust roll-out of branches throughout the country.UBA obtained its banking license from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in July 2008. The chairman of the group is Tony Elumelu, who runs the group from its headquarters in Nigeria.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Liberia National Olympics Committee (LNOC) has continued its fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) with the donation of 288 bottles of bleach to the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL).The local governing body of Olympics, through its Vice President for Technical Affairs, Malcolm Joseph made the donation over the weekend at the headquarters of the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), located on Benson Street. The donation was made possible through the support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), he said.The gift was in extension of the LNOC’s gesture in an effort to wipe out the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) from Ebola hit countries, under the theme: “Do Not Stigmatize Ebola Survivors. They Are Our People, Embrace Them.”The president of SWAL, Roland Mulbah, thanked the LNOC for the donation and said it would be used for its intended purpose.It may be recalled that the LNOC donated similar items to the Liberia Football Association and the Alpha Oldtimers and Fraternity Association.The LNOC also donated anti-Ebola materials to seven counties of which 80% went to schools, and 20% for sporting associations and/or athletes.The counties included Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Nimba. Each county received 200 large anti-Ebola buckets with pumps, 40 cartons of Bleach Chlora, five pieces of thermometers and dozens of detergents (soaps) and antiseptic soaps amongst others. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The re-appointed Commissioner of Caldwell, Madam Alexine Mendscole-Howard, has assured the residents of her vigor (strength) to develop the township.In an interview with the Daily Observer yesterday, April 21, at her office in Caldwell, Commissioner Howard indicated that her leadership will not go after residents who are engaged in spreading falsehood just to gain political relevance, but will work around the clock and develop every community in Caldwell.Her statement was in direct reaction to what she termed “misinformation” that residents in the township recently spread indicating that she abandoned her job during the height of the Ebola crisis.Based on the rumor, some of the residents reportedly recommended someone else to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to head the township.“I don’t have a problem with that because the President has the political power to hire anybody of her choice in government; but my being away was to seek further medical check-up, and I ask God to vindicate me from those lies against,” she explained.She maintains that why in the US undergoing medical treatment, she wrote a formal letter to the Superintendent of Montserrado County, and copied the Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA), informing authorities there that she was undergoing a serious surgery in the United States.She said being reinstated as Commissioner of Caldwell did not surprise her because her bosses were informed appropriately about everything she did.“All the propaganda they ran against me did not move me at all because on April 6, I received a letter from President Sirleaf stating that I had been reinstated.”Comm. Howard said it was another political plus for her and the people of Caldwell, “because I’m back with vigor to move the township forward.”“The idea crafted by some unscrupulous residents to steal and sell land that does not belong to them since they are tricky and crooked is not going to work with me and my staff,” she warned.Comm. Howard said she has announced to the residents that she is back so that the people in Caldwell will know that somebody has their interest at heart and that her administration will work with them to achieve their development objectives.Additionally, she said that her administration does not only have the interest of the residents at heart, but she has personally advocated for the Land Commissioner to establish a sub office in Caldwell to settle some of the land related disputes.She then called on residents to rally around her administration to ensure that the township is on par with other developing townships.At the same, Comm. Howard has declared that her administration will be more robust in dealing with issues of the township nowadays rather than being lenient administratively.She expressed gratitude to the President for affording her another opportunity to serve her people in the township.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
A former minister of Finance, David Farhat, has been appointed as director of the Graduate Program of Business and Public Administration (MBA/MPA) of the University of Liberia (UL).He replaces Assistant Professor Sunny Nyemah who resigned recently, a UL statement issued yesterday said. According to Mr. Farhat’s letter of appointment from UL president Emmet A. Dennis, his assignment took effect March 1, 2015.The new graduate director comes to the nation’s highest institute of learning with considerable academic credentials and years of experience.From 1988-1990, Mr. Farhat served as Minister of Finance, and earlier as Minister of Commerce, Industry and Transportation between 1987 and 1988. His curriculum vitae records four academic degrees including three Masters’ Degrees in Economics, Finance and Accounting from Syracuse University, New York, USA from 1972 to 1979. In 1966, Mr. Farhat graduated from the UL with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics.Mr. Farhat previously served as Assistant Professor and chairman of the Department of Accounting (1981-1986) teaching advanced courses in Accounting and Taxation, and performed general administration of the department. In 1990, he became professor of Accounting in the College of Business and Public Administration.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)